September 2022 – On a late summer day, under the warm Tuscan sun and its tropical-like humidity that comes with a good number of mosquitoes, students landed at the itsy-bitsy Florence airport of Peretola.
ISI Florence staff welcomed them all with big smiles and reassuring words for those in need (lost luggage is often slightly concerning). A short taxi ride and the newcomers were delivered to their assigned apartment front door, to be met by another member of the ISI staff.
After lugging huge pieces of luggage up the narrow stairways of the typical Florentine home, the door opened up onto their to-be home. A kitchen, equipped with pots and pans, waiting to be used to cook up a beautiful Italian meal, shared bedrooms, and personal wardrobes to hold their beloved items, shared bathrooms, and a living space that will be the silent listener of laughter, smiles & joy, frustration, tears, love and friendship, adventures, dreams, food, and stories that will become life memories of an incredible journey, the one of studying abroad in Florence, in the Fall of 2022, after a world-wide pandemic and in the middle of an energy supply crisis.
Lights on, we said, the Fall 2022 semester has started! Or should we say, switch everything off, use as little electricity and gas as possible, don’t waste water, nor food, and consume responsibly.
Europe is heading towards a possibly cold winter due to its little gas supplies. We relied on Russia for almost 50% of our gas – industries and privates alike will be hit by the rising costs of gas, forcing everyone to think twice before turning up the heating a bit more.
The 2021 Nobel Prize winner for Physics, Giorgio Parisi, has suggested that we, the Italians – with our passion for food, our strict rules on how things are cooked, what type of ingredients must be used and around 300 different shapes of pasta (and each goes with a specific condiment), with a schedule at hand for the time of day when certain things should be drunk or eaten – we, should bring the water to boil, pour in the raw pasta, and then switch the gas off and let the pasta cook in a pot of slowing un-boiling water.
The internet has of course gone crazy with memes about this suggestion.
We will learn to live with a little less. But we will of course keep the gas on while boiling our pasta.
Hasn’t the pandemic already taught us that — in fact — we need so little to be happy? We have come so far in making the most of our time. We are now ready to take a further step.
So, switch off those lights! Wear an extra sweater and warm up with a brisk walk on the streets of an amazing city!
Florence lies ahead of you.