Secondary Education major
Book Arts in Europe, Italy, Belgium & Germany
Summer I short-term faculty-led program
Daily life in Venice offered some interesting challenges as well as many familiar concepts from home.
First, the apartment that I was staying in was modern, even though the exterior of the buildings in Venice still carry a cracked, crumbling, aged appearance (picture to left; we were on the third story). Our two-bedroom apartment was split between three girls, and we had a sort of ‘sitting room’ as well as a kitchen and bathroom–with our bathroom being even bigger than the
Our kitchen offered a small refrigerator (much smaller than anything found at home), a gas-powered stove, and a toaster oven. Microwaves and freezers are rare in Venice because they use a lot of power and are often seen as unnecessary. There is also no automatic coffee maker; coffee had to be made by boiling water in a special pot. Our apartment had plenty of plates, silverware, and pans already waiting for us, as well as towels and bed sheets.
Our bathroom offered a shower (where I am standing to take the picture), a washer (which was smaller than any American washer and extremely hard to figure out how to use), a sink, a toilet, and a bidet (the tiny-looking toilet that housed our soaked shower rug). The toilets in Italy are also economical, as there are two options for flushing based upon the contents. Driers for laundry were not very common in Venice, so after washing my clothes, I hung them up on our balcony in the afternoon sun to allow them to air dry. Our washer was not a typical front-loading washer that I have at home (and all of the buttons were in Italian) so after spending several minutes trying to translate it using Google translate and reading an English version of the manual online, I gave up and decided to hand wash my clothes.
Our ‘sitting room’. Beside me, there is a small chair (housing the person whose foot that is) and behind me is the doorway to our small balcony that overlooked the side alleyway. Our apartment overlooked one of the main streets in Venice, so there were often people passing and talking at all times of the day. At the bottom of the steps was a Co-op, which was their version of a supermarket, although the store had only two aisles that were two-people wide. Overall, the entire store was about half the size of a Sangren lecture hall. As such, it was easy and convenient to find a store, but it was important to not be picky, because while there was a wide range of foods, there was often only brand that offered it. There was a larger supermarket similar to a Hardings that was near the train station and took about 25 minutes to walk to get to, but I was able to find enough food at the Co-op.
There were also many small shops and restaurants on our street or easily within walking distance, which was one of the conveniences of Venice; everything can easily be walked to! Or, you can take a bus boat (pictured to right) to traverse the large canal that cuts through the city. The bus boats operated similar to how the bus routes work on campus; there were designated pick up spots on the canal that were clearly marked, and buses arrived usually every 15 minutes, and there were bus boats that traveled both ways on the canal.
The view from the bus boat stop. In Venice, when eating at restaurants, it is not expected for one to tip; instead, the tip is automatically put on the bill as a “service charge” and a “cover charge”, which usually was about 1.50 euro each. Most places in Venice will also not split the bill like restaurants often do in Venice; if eating out as a big group, it’s important to have small amounts of cash to be able to cover your own meal because the bill cannot be broken up so that several people can pay by card. Sometimes, one person would but the bill on their credit card, and the rest of group would pay that person back cash to save them a trip to the ATM. This especially helped one student whose debit card was frozen two days into the trip and he could not draw cash from the ATM. Most places also had a menu in English, which made ordering much easier.