Too short!! November 25, 2019

By (University of Connecticut) - abroad from 08/28/2019 to 12/13/2019 with

International Studies Institute / ISI Florence

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned so much from my experience. To live in the moment, to embrace new experiences, to be adaptable, to be independent, and the benefit of going out of your way to connect with new people.

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 courses offered at ISI offered the perfect load work for the semester. The work was relevant and the teachers rarely offered busy work. Additionally, many of the courses offer hands on learning through field trips with Florence and Italy.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The on-site administration was phenomenal! The staff is so friendly and truly makes you feel like family! All staff have an open door policy as well and are always so helpful.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The apartments are really spacious and even with 8 people to an apartment it never felt too crowded. While appliances in the apartment did require repair from time to time they housing staff was always very quick to answer our emails and have someone come in to the apartment to address any problems! While furniture is provided I found there to be overall limited storage for clothes, toiletries, or other belongings.

* Food:

ISI students are responsible for their own meals.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

ISI does a good job of offering optional activities that was immersive to the Italian culture. The orientation offered by ISI also gave a lot of knowledge on the Italian culture and what to expect while being in Italy.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

ISI provided all students information on where to go for all healthcare needs including emergencies. The healthcare was really accessible - there is even a doctor that you can call to come to your apartment if you are really sick. There is little notice needed for this service as you can have the doctor there within a couple hours of calling. This service is completely free to ISI students as long as you have the medical card on you that is provided by ISI.

* Safety:

Florence is safe as long as you are smart and are aware of your surroundings. Near more tourist-y areas there is a higher threat of pickpocketing so you should just be more vigilant in those areas. ISI has mandatory travel forms you fill out each week just in case of an emergency they always know where you are which definitely made me feel more safe while traveling.

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

First, I really enjoyed Florence as a host city. It was the perfect size to feel familiar with the city pretty quickly and I loved how accessible everything was! The city is also so beautiful and the history is so amazingly preserved. I also was so happy with the ISI staff and the courses offered at the school.

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)

It was a little more expensive to study abroad than I first expected. If you cook in you are able to save more money then if you go out to eat regularly during the week. I would say I spent an average of about 70 Euros a week on groceries alone. Traveling is probably the next biggest expensive. While you can plan many day trips in Italy for pretty cheap (less than 50 euros), an average weekend long trip could cost anywhere between 200-600 Euros depending on where you go.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 80 euros
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Cook food opposed to going out if you can. Apperitivos are also a pretty cheap food option. For about 7-10 euros you can pay for an unlimited buffet meal that includes one drink. Use airlines that offer cheap flights such as RyanAir or Vueling when looking to travel long distances. If you travel by train on Saturdays they offer a two for one discount where you and one other person can travel for the price of one train ticket (requires booking at least 2 days in advance).

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

There is a mandatory Italian class that all students have to take. The beginner class meets 4 times a week. In this class you have frequent writing and oral assignments in Italian to complete. Additionally, there are also immersive activities you will complete such as speaking with Italian students, interviewing locals in a Piazza, and attending a dinner with Italian natives in order to practice language skills in real world settings.

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? Beginner
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? I hadn't completed any Italian language courses prior to departure.
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? Definitely do some research ahead of time and get yourself familiar with some basic phrases prior to your departure. The Italian locals will really appreciate the effort to speak the language!

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

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

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?
  • Enjoying the city of Florence
  • Meeting new people and making new friends
  • Traveling Europe
* What could be improved?
  • More school lead activities
  • Offer more flexibility with class absences
  • Possibly offer stipend or meal plans to help reduce living costs.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? How fast it was all going to go!! I was worried about being away from home and in a foreign country for a whole semester but it honestly goes by so fast so you really have to take advantage of every moment. Also, wish I learned a little Italian before arriving as I think it would have made the transition easier and would have made me feel more comfortable interacting with locals when I first got here.

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 Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.