I loved it so much that I decided to do it again. Past Review

By (Arts, Entertainment,and Media Management., SUNY Purchase) for

Lorenzo de' Medici – Florence: Direct Enrollment

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My study abroad experience was totally worthwhile. I had actually done this exact same program back in the Fall of 2008 and loved it so much that I decided to do it again. Studying abroad enriches your life in so many ways that you would have never even dreamed of. I have such a greater appreciation for cultures and other people than I would have if I had only stayed in America. I have much more confidence in myself and feel like I can achieve anything after living in a country where I knew no one going into it. I have made some amazing relationships with people that I know will stay with me for the rest of my life. This is an experience I would never, ever give up and hope everyone else gets to have a similar opportunity as well.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months
The term and year this program took place: Spring 2010

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The academics were fun and interesting, but not particularly challenging. The facilities of the school were really lacking, making it difficult to do in-depth research for papers. The instruction was good, and the teachers were enthusiastic and knowledgeable about their subjects. Generally, the lessons were somewhat disorganized compare to the American style of teaching, but I feel that the objectives of the courses were still obtained. The student-teacher relationship was very personal, as each teacher tried to make a personal connection with his or her students.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Since the last time I attended this program, the school has improved greatly in terms of organization and preparedness. Administrators and advisers were easy to get a hold of and generally quick to solve problems or other issues.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The apartment was wonderful except that it was quite small for six people living in there. My room was not an actual room but a loft above the kitchen. I had very little privacy, but it was not too much of a problem since I got along with my roommates. We did have problems with hot water and the water not working, but usually it was manageable. We had a terrific landlord, and I believe that is one of the main reasons why our stay was so wonderful. Our apartment was well supplied with everything we could need and all in good condition. There was no need to buy any additional items. We lived in a beautiful part of town (The Oltrarno neighborhood) and were never too far to walk to most stores and places we needed or wanted to go to.

* Food:

The food was amazing and usually quite reasonable in price. It takes a while to understand what are the tourist-y spots to eat and what are the places that locals dine at. Once I figured out how to tell, it was much easier to select a restaurant. Generally, if a restaurant has greeters calling you in to eat or menus with five languages on it, they will not be the authentic food of the country or city. It's important to get recommendations from people (your schoolmates, landlords, shop owners you are friendly with) and follow their suggestions. I saw some people struggling to be vegans in Italy, but the kitchen was always willing to comply with dietary restrictions or preferences. Being a vegetarian in Italy is not impossible, but one might become bored quickly with the options at restaurants.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I found it very challenging to interact with the Florentines. They tend to be quite cold towards foreigners. However, once if you return to the same shop or stall often they will warm up to you and treat you as a regular customer. The more Italian you know, the more likely they are to be friendly towards you. There are always events and festivals going on. The Florentine newspaper is a great resource for connecting English speakers with events and culture in Florence. Florence is a great city to travel from by train, but difficult to travel to and from by airplane. The most memorable cultural events were the ones when it was something that the entire city participates in like "La Notte Bianca" and Easter Sunday at the Duomo. The museums of Florence are spectacular, and I was lucky enough to take a course where we visited a new museum every week. This is one of the most special things about Florence in my opinion.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Women need to be particularly careful at bars and clubs at night because many men (Italian or otherwise) will be very persistent and make unwanted advances. It's best to travel with a small group of people you trust (large groups can be obnoxious to others and attract even more unwanted attention to yourself). Aside from that, I always felt very safe in Florence. General good safety habits are of course important (locking doors, closing windows, being aware of your surroundings, etc.). I never felt threatened or scared.

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)

Language

Language acquisition improvement?

Florence is a particularly hard city to try to improve in Italian because the majority of the people speak English as their preferred means of communication with foreigners. It was difficult to find people that would take the time to listen to you try to form sentences with broken and poor Italian, but in those rare cases they were all very sweet and patient. I generally used Italian when interacting outside of my school, but most people responded in English. It was only if you were persistent about using Italian that they would then speak it back to you. I feel like my Italian could have improved much more if so many people didn't speak English there.

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? Florence is the perfect city if you like Renaissance art and good food. The pace of life is slower here, and you need to have patience. Remember that this is an experience - not a comfort zone. You will be pushed by little things that you never realized bother you before, but that is part of the fun. The more you try to immerse yourself in the culture and speak the language, the more you will gain from your experience. It is not essential to know Italian to study in Florence, but it is important to be willing to try your best to use it once you get there and start learning it. The city is small and easy to get around by foot making it very accessible to everyone. At this program, it is important for you to plan your own activities and agendas for things that you want to do or accomplish while you are here.