The best opportunity ever! Past Review

By (International Relations And Global Studies, Florida State University) - abroad from 06/21/2010 to 08/12/2011 with

Florida State University: First Year Abroad

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Too much to put into words. I am now applying to law schools and my time abroad is the emphasize of my personal statement and resume. I know that I changed for the better and I saw my classmates change drastically.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

FSU offers such a wide range of courses abroad that students never have to worry about falling behind in their majors. Most of the courses are taught by local professors, so one really gets an authentic experience. The courses make great use of your surroundings, in Florence art history was taught around the entire city, Italian class met at a senior citizen home, and in Italian cinema we watched films in historical theaters rather than sitting in a classroom. In China we practiced speaking chinese through scavenger hunts in local parks. In Panama my international development course was taught by a Panama Peace Corps Alumni and we even got to meet with many international development volunteers in the region. The courses meet the academic rigor of on-campus courses, but you always find yourself well prepared for exams and papers.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

In Florence and Panama FSU has their own campus with classrooms and offices in one area and a library nearby. The administration staff are always welcoming and although they meet hundreds of students throughout the year, they really take the time to know each students individually and will remember you for years to come.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Living arrangements are well taken care of and students never need to fend for themselves. Programs provide clean bedding, kitchen access, laundry access, and cleaning service. Accommodations are authentic to the local culture, but meet the needs of American students. The living arrangements are always near the study center and near the center of the city.

* Food:

If you like food then Florence is the place to go! The program gives students "Meal Tickets" every couple of weeks that can can be used at a variety of restaurants. The tickets are great because you don't have to worry about spending too much money, but you can eat out at amazing places every single night. Students do large group dinners at Anita's Trattoria almost every night and sometimes go to Aperitivo for drinks and appetizers. The China program also has good food and provides all meals for students. The food is more authentic Chinese and can be interesting at times, however there is always enough to eat and the 'interesting' food is a necessary part of understanding local culture.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The Panama program is part of FSU's campus in Panama where local students take courses before going to Tallahassee to finish a degree. So students who study abroad take courses with local students and quickly become friends. The other programs also do a good job integrating students with the local culture through dinners, trips, seminars, and just meeting locals in general.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

While in China I sprained my foot while I was out at night and the next morning I could tell it needed medical attention. Our program leader took me to a local doctor, where I was very apprehensive at first...Chinese medical facilities are nothing like Europe or America. However, I was able to get an X-ray quickly and have my foot bandaged properly. The entire procedure cost about 3 USD so I did not bother with insurance. While in Italy I broke my permanent retainer on the back of teeth and had metal wires sticking out everywhere! Orthodontics are not as common in Europe as they are in America so I was worried about finding a proper doctor. However, my program leader quickly made an appointment for me and I was able to have my problem solved immediately. I even decided to go on my own and try out my Italian by myself, so it was definitely a growing experience. The procedure was more costly than in China, so I made sure to do the necessary insurance paper work.

* Safety:

I had no safety concerns in my entire 14 months abroad.

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)

The programs are all-inclusive so students just need to budget money for going out and for travel.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 200$
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? You will buy a lot of clothes abroad regardless of what you think. My advice is to avoid shopping for your trip in America, even though it is so much fun, and wait until you get abroad.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

In Italy our program leaders always wanted us to use Italian whenever possible, sometimes they would jokingly not answer if you used English. The local restaurants and stores knew that we needed to practice and always made us order in Italian. They took the time to correct us and teach us something new.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? none
How many hours per day did you use the language?
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Learn the basics perfectly. Spend too much time studying at the beginning of you language courses. Really understand the easy conjugations, endings, and tenses. The basics never go away and if you know them well you don't need to do as much work later on.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 10+

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Trips
  • Classes
  • Friends
* What could be improved?
  • More field research options
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I now know much more about myself and my interests, I wish I had known a this better before leaving because I would have taken some different courses or taken advantage of different opportunities.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!