Destination: Firenze Past Review

By (Communication and Media Studies., Trinity University) for

SAI Study Abroad: Florence - Florence University of the Arts (FUA)

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Over the course of 3.5 months, I understand more about the world around me more than I ever could have possibly imagined. Although there were some things that I wasn’t necessarily a fan of, I left Florence in December with no regrets. Culturally, I gained so many experiences interacting and adjusting that I feel comfortable trying the unthinkable, whether in a social or educational business setting. I think that everyone should study abroad at least once in their life. There is no greater opportunity than spending time living and learning.

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.

For a study abroad program and university, Florence University of the Arts provided an average workload for students. Depending on the classes enrolled in, time spent on a particular class could range anywhere from in class work to out of class, on your own time. The grading system more or less “understood” and how well you could restate teaching objectives. My home institution, Trinity University is more complex and students are held to a higher standard for understanding strict education objectives rather than out on the real world work.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Study Abroad Italy was always available to assist students. I really enjoyed those in charge of the program. Very eager to make sure students were comfortable. My program size was fairly large, but I never truly knew how many or who was a part of Study Abroad Italy. A majority of my time abroad was getting to know those at Florence University of the Arts. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much exposure to the Study Abroad Italy program over the course of the semester. But on the few occasions, was met with some disorganization, etc. Between the program and the school, it was Florence University of the Arts met all of my expectations of what a study abroad program should be.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

To my surprise, Study Abroad Italy placed me with another student from my home institution (without our requesting). It turned out to be a great decision on their part. I lived in the Oltrano, near Santo Spirito and can honestly say that it was one of the best living spots in Florence. Very close to shopping, nightlife, museums, etc. I never once felt threatened or unsafe walking around at all times of the day and night, even alone. Our apartment was located on the top story of a building and was furnished with just about everything. As a personal preference, I did choose to purchase additional items from Ikea (sponsored trip by Study Abroad Italy) just to make my living area more home-like. Otherwise, we were provided with bedding, kitchen appliances, cookware, and even hair styling tools. Everything was pretty much taken care of.

* Food:

As a native of Texas, I do enjoy my hamburger, steak and fajita meals. Florence is not very accommodating for these types of foods, but study abroad is all about the experience and getting out of your comfort zone. With that said, it is possible to find these things, but your options are very limited. Everything in the city though, is fresh and wonderful wherever you get it. Definitely a different taste from what you would expect. Again, some of my favorite places were: Osteria Santo Spirito, Amore Mio Pizza, Gusta Pizza and Ganzo. For desert, try Gelateria La Carraria… one euro gelato that is to die for. Can’t beat that.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

My most memorable experiences stemmed from trips taken with Florence University of the Arts. I particularly enjoyed the Ferragamo Museum and Tuscan Vineyard that I toured with one of my classes, as well as the Tutto Spossi Wedding Exhibition. With Study Abroad Italy, I had a wonderful time spending the day at the beach… something that truly opened my eyes to Italian leisure.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I never experienced any type of feeling that I was unsafe or threatened while in Florence. This includes walking around at all times during the day, whether 9AM or 1AM, alone. With that said, I would still advise students to go out in small groups because (1) you can share your experience (2) if a problem does ever arise, there’s always someone else with you. There are a lot of tourists in Florence, so unless you venture into a less populated area, there are always people around. Police are also very public, so if you ever need anything, they can be found walking or stationed within the city.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No


* 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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? On average, I spent about 100-150 euro per week on personal expenses: groceries, activities, etc. However, I did not experience the nightlife aspect of Florence, which could very easily cost you 50-75 more based on how frequently you are.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? My one word of advice would be to budget your money. During the first few weeks of living in Florence, my apartment mates and I chose to eat out for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and blew through money very quickly. Go out and buy groceries as soon as you get there and then figure in times when you want to go out and eat. Also, travel is very expensive. Even before you leave the U.S. make a list of places you want to go and start making travel plans ahead of time! The one thing I regret is having an agenda before I arrived in Italy.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
Language acquisition improvement?

Overall, the language barrier in Florence was the least of my worries. I was never concerned with not being able to communicate with those I encountered on a daily basis. And although I came into study abroad with some knowledge of Spanish, picking up conversational Italian was fairly simple. Participating in Italian Family Club (or some program of the like) would be the best way to jumpstart language proficiency.

If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

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

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Independent
  • Helpful
  • Easy-going
* What could be improved?
  • Organization
  • Events
  • Communication
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Study Abroad Italy is a wonderful program for a student who likes to be independent. But regardless, Florence University of the Arts is a fantastic education institution that truly wants the best for their students, making the most out of their time for the semester.