Learning about myself by learning about others May 31, 2018

By (Marywood University) - abroad from 01/24/2018 to 05/10/2018 with

Global Semesters: Florence - Semester in Florence

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I found studying abroad to be very worthwhile. It was one of the first times I was truly on my own from my parents, having to feed myself and budget my lifestyle. I did some solo travel which made me feel that I could be responsible for myself. I know what kind of person I am, what I like about my living environment, and who I want as friends. I gained confidence from living abroad.

Review Photos

Global Semesters: Florence - Semester in Florence Photo Global Semesters: Florence - Semester in Florence Photo Global Semesters: Florence - Semester in Florence Photo Global Semesters: Florence - Semester in Florence Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

On average, the classes were not difficult. The work load was fairly low which I believe was intentional to allow students to focus on other things. I had few assignments for each class, and when I did have them they weren't too difficult. I would have liked to feel slightly more challenged with some of the course material as it was part of my educational experience, however I am glad that it was light enough to allow me to travel and explore while being abroad.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

FUA administration provided numerous activities for students as well as resources for students with mental health issues that might need a counselor. There was someone available at each building during hours of operation. They gave plenty of resources to me for things like taxis, doctors, and other people I might need to contact. However, I did not like the add/drop policy for courses as it was very limiting and made me feel like I had no options in case I struggled in a certain class.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The location and accessibility of my apartment was amazing and I loved the apartment itself. However, there were some problems with power and WiFi multiple times throughout the semester that were not always easily resolved. As well, I struggled to get along with my other roommates. I felt that there should have been some roommate contract drawn up by my program at the start to be able to have some insurance on certain behaviors and expectations from these people we live with and whom we've never met before.

* Food:

I cooked for myself a decent amount. I love Conad! I went to the market to buy a lot of fresh produce. The food in the city was also very good, which we tried to go out to different places. I ate way too much gelato.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I had high expectations with integration based on my sister's experience studying abroad in Argentina. However, I did not meet them in Florence. I failed to realize how touristic the city was, and I did not feel challenged to speak the language. Everything felt very geared toward tourists and so I did not feel like I blended in very well with the locals. I tried my best to speak Italian, to go to local food places like bars or the market, and I avoided American stereotypes whenever possible. Overall, I found it hard to integrate myself because of the mass tourism in the city itself.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I did not have any health issues addressed during my program. I got sick, but I dealt with it using medication from home. FUA provided us with doctor names and numbers, but I did not want to go through the hassle of calling. A school nurse would have been a good addition to the school and program.

* Safety:

I feel that Florence is a very safe city! Besides the driving that seems more reckless than at home, I did not feel unsafe walking through the city. Only at one time did I feel a little unease, but I was farther from city center later in the evening. I would recommend Florence to anyone looking for a safe place to be.

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

I had a very good experience with the University of Nicosia Global Semesters, and I loved Florence. What I would change, however, is the location. A much as i loved Florence, I did not like the touristic environment and would have preferred to be in a city that involved more effort on my part to use the language or integrate into the culture. I would be open to exploring the other locations the University of Nicosia Global Semesters offers.

Finances

* 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)

I found it difficult to live on a student budget because there were so many things I wanted to do, see, and eat. If I had unlimited resources, I would have liked to eat every meal out to appreciate the cuisine of the area. I did not do much shopping, but again I would have if I had an unlimited budget.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? On average I spent 30-40 euro each week.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Make sure you are comfortable with how much of your own personal money you have. If you want your own money, be sure to save up via a job or savings. Have a clear understanding from your parents how much they are willing to let you spend of their money and what they intend for you to pay back.

Language

* 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

The language class was not mandatory. Though FUA had activities, the use of language was not heavily encouraged at any time.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Honors French 4
How many hours per day did you use the language? 0
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Learn vocabulary and phrases that you can actually use during your stay. Be sure to choose a place that isn't very touristic so that you can use your language skills. Even if you try to speak the language, the person will often reply in English. Fight the urge to speak English when possible. Don't be ignorant and don't assume everyone will speak your language.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Beautiful city
  • Easy to travel to other places
  • Lots to do in Florence
* What could be improved?
  • Increased emphasis on language and overall education
  • More selective with applicants
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had known what kind of city Florence was and how I would not feel challenged to use my language skills. I also did not realized the type of people that would also be studying abroad. I met dozens of students that weren't there for the right reasons and it upset me to know that they did not care for their education nor for engaging in true Italian culture. I would have chosen a city (Italy or not) that had fewer American students and tourists so that I could focus on myself and advancing my education and career.