Most Rewarding Four Months of my Life November 24, 2019

By (Roger Williams University / RWU) - abroad from 08/27/2019 to 12/14/2019 with

International Studies Institute / ISI Florence

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a new sense of independence that I’ve never had before. Moving across the world for four months allows you to make mistakes and learn from them, and overcome challenges of living abroad. I noticed that I became more self-aware, and even developed a clearer sense of self. I was able to meet people from all over the world, which broadened my worldview and allowed me to gain new perspectives other than my own. I gained a greater appreciation for different cultures and traditions.

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.

The workload for some of my classes were relatively easier than in the U.S. Many of the classes cover interesting subject-matter, and are enjoyable to learn about. I didn’t get homework very often, and tests were not difficult or intense. The professors will provide you with any resources you may need in order to complete assignments or study.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administration was easily accessible, reliable, and great with communication. Whenever we experienced any kind of problem, ISI staff was always quick to respond and find a solution.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was extremely satisfied with my living arrangements in Florence. I lived in an eight person apartment that was still very spacious and open. A few maintenance problems should be expected, it’s inevitable when you’re living in a building that’s over 600 years old.

* Food:

There’s no meal plan, but this allows you to do your own grocery shopping and cook in your apartment. The city is full of restaurants, which is a great opportunity to try new food and eat authentic Italian cuisine.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I lived in the Santo Spirito neighborhood, so I considered myself to be in a more local area of Florence. I always felt immersed in the local culture and enjoyed the restaurants, cafes, and small businesses. I learned enough Italian to hold conversations with the locals, and it gave me a sense of belonging.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

ISI was very helpful through any problems regarding healthcare. There is form that can be filled out to specify any side-effects or doctor requests. The administration would follow-up and guide you through the process of getting a doctor for a house-visit, or directions to the nearest walk-in clinic.

* Safety:

Florence is a relatively safe city. I rarely experienced any problems where I felt unsafe or uncomfortable. At night, it’s best to walk with a group of people, rather than walking alone.

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

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)

Depending on your eating, travel, and shopping habits, the amount of money you spend will vary. If you eat out at restaurant or cafe every day, your food expenses will add up. I bought groceries every week, and was able to portion out my food to last the week and save me money. I also didn’t travel every weekend, so I saved money on flights, taxis, hotels, etc.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $90
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Be cautious of how much you’re spending. Your expenses and spending will add up over the course of the semester.

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

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? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Spanish 3
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? Pay attention in class, you’ll learn valuable information. Also try your best to speak the language in conversations with the locals. This will give you real world experience and you might be able to pick up on the language quicker.

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Exchange

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?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Class visits to churches and museums
  • Student services and information
  • Ability to immerse ourselves into the culture
* What could be improved?
  • Opportunities to meet the locals
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I came into the program with very few expectations, and the entire semester has gone very smoothly. I stand by the fact that you should not create expectations for your study abroad semester, because you might be disappointed if things don’t happen according to plan.