Florence Study Abroad: a Life Changing Experience Past Review

By (Marketing, Bryant University) for

API (Academic Programs International): Florence - Lorenzo de’ Medici – The Italian International Institute (LDM)

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Before you go abroad, most people tell you that it is going to be a life changing experience. Although this is true, you may not realize this change until you are well into your semester abroad, or perhaps not even until you come home. During my time abroad, I did a lot of traveling throughout Italy and to many of the surrounding countries. It is a mixture of the people you meet along the way and the experiences that you have with them, and by yourself. I learned to become more independent, but at the same time I learned not to judge people that aren't exactly like you. I made many lasting friends who I would have never met if I never had this opportunity. Studying abroad really does open your mind to new perspectives, and you slowly begin to realize that the world is a lot bigger, and has a lot more to offer, than what you originally thought. I think after studying abroad I have developed a new thirst for travel and adventure. Before I had even came home I was already planning the next trip I would be able to take. I've also even begun to consider maybe attending graduate school overseas. There is no possible way to put into words the way that studying abroad builds character and no way to sum up the incredible experiences I had. I can not encourage other students enough to take a leap out of their comfort zone and see the world!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The classes that I took were classes I needed to fill my core requirements and had nothing to do with my major. I felt sometimes the assignments were nothing but busy work. At times the language barrier affected the professor's abilities to communicate assignments to the students and would result in confusion among the class. However, the classes I took were not classes I would ever have the opportunity to take at my home university and most of the time were extremely interesting!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Our advisers were in constant contact with us throughout the semester. They were always sending us emails updating us on news and events happening around us. They made it well known that we could come to them for anything and encouraged all students to do so! The program did such a good job at making sure all students were settled in properly and did whatever they could to make us feel comfortable with all of the changes we were going through. I would recommend them to any student who was going abroad, they were awesome in every aspect!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Our apartment was located right in the central market (Piazza del Mercato Centrale). I think we lucked out on our location. The apartment itself was extremely nice, and consisted of 4 bedrooms for 7 students, 2 bathrooms, a kitchen, and a living room. Our apartment was at the very top of the building, about 100 steps up, however there is an elevator that isn't too sketchy. Our apartment came with mostly everything we needed, including wireless internet that we each had to pay for separately. I was expecting to have to buy a lot of things for the apartment when we got there, however we all found collections of things past students had left over the years and it was soo helpful. Our land lady was a cute old woman named Ann who would stop by whenever we needed something fixed. Our apartment was in walking distance to mostly anything we needed in Florence, I never once took a bus and took a taxi one time only because it was late at night.

* Food:

The food in Italy is AMAZING, which I'm sure no one would doubt. I particularly liked ZaZa the best, which was conveniently located right below our apartment. Also, for lunch I would highly suggest Mario's, which was ALSO conveniently located in Mercato Centrale, and is delicious! Restaurants are very easy to come by all around Florence, but I would suggest to avoid the ones that are located right on the main streets/piazzas, they are often overpriced and don't always have good food. As for gelato, avoid places that have huge piles, and don't be afraid to ask around!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Our program took us on 4 excursions through the semester: Rome, Venice, Sienna, and Lucca. I highly suggest to go on all of these excursions, everything is already paid for except a meal or two. There are also many cultural events that will be offered throughout the semester that you can sign up for ranging from craft shows to soccer games.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Florence is an extremely safe city, but obviously there are precautions that every student should take no matter where they are. I never ran into any problems, but I do know people who had things stolen from them at clubs or while they were out late at night not paying attention to their things. There was only one time where I needed to seek medical attention, and the doctor I saw was very prompt and helpful.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
Language acquisition improvement?

In Florence, a very touristy city in Italy, most people speak English. Eeven when I would attempt to speak Italian to the locals, they would usually answer me in English anyways. When traveling outside of the city to less well-known towns, knowing Italian becomes more useful. In my Italian language class, we mostly spoke Italian. Although we learned a lot of grammar, verbs, and vocab, I wish we had spent more time on conversational Italian - however they do have seminars you can attend on the side to practice conversations (wish I had participated in more of these!)

If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? This program was great, I really have no complaints. They are there for you no matter what, whether it be helping you find a place for a haircut or helping you cope with culture shock. They made themselves readily available in all cases. API understands that it is inevitable that students will have trouble adjusting. Although there is no way to fully prepare a student for the culture change and the experience they are going to have, API comes very close. I highly suggest using this program, any type of student!!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Organized Crime: Sociology and History of Italian Mafia

Course Department: SOC 260
Instructor: Stefano Gidari
Instruction Language: English
Comments: The course itself is extremely interesting and the professor obviously knew what he was talking about and had a passion for it. He communicated to the class very well for the most part and was always open for questions and discussion. The course consists of a two essay quizzes on two short books, a midterm exam, a paper/presentation, and a final exam. The midterm and final exams are all essays, however he provides you with the essay topics ahead of time. The final paper/presentation can be done on any topic and can be made into a group project if desired.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

The Venice Film Festival

Course Department: COM 315
Instructor: Grassini Paolo
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Every class consisted of a PowerPoint lesson followed by several movie excerpts. This professor understand that not everyone is a film major, and is sensitive to the fact that not everyone knows the ins and outs of film production. His English is great and he communicates with the class very well. Some of the movies may seem odd but for the most part they are interesting. There is a midterm exam, a paper for a movie review, and a final exam. The exams are all essay questions, and he doesn't always tell the class what those essays will be. However you'll find that they end up being the big topics discussed in class, he's not trying to trick anyone.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Environmental Issues

Course Department: ENV 180
Instructor: Casaglia Luca
Instruction Language: English
Comments: The material taught during the course itself was actually very interesting and enlightening. However this particular professor often had a hard time communicating with the class and we were often left extremely confused about assignments. He encourages students to discuss topics in class and is always open for questions although he does not always understand them. He also encourages students to correct him and does not want you to be shy if you can't understand him, which was great. All classes consisted of PowerPoint time and then usually a film documentary. We had a midterm exam, a final paper with a presentation, and a final exam. The midterm and finals were a mixture of multiple choice and short essay questions. Exams were fair, although he doesn't tell you exactly what to study. The final paper/presentation can be done on any topic and can be made into a group project if desired.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

3-Credit Italian Language Elementary 1

Course Department: ITL 101
Instructor: Mariangelo
Instruction Language: English/Italian
Comments: This was my favorite course of the semester. The professor was upbeat and class was actually quite enjoyable. These classes are always really small, giving students a lot of personal attention and comfort when asking questions. The course consisted of a few quizzes, a few short presentations/compositions, a midterm and a final exam. The professor told us the exact requirements and was very clear about what would be included on the quizzes and exams. I always enjoyed coming to this class!
Credit Transfer Issues: