Thanks SAI for the best summer and semester of my life Past Review

By (University of South Carolina - Columbia) - abroad from 01/23/2012 to 05/12/2012 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I could speak forever about how worthwhile my two trips abroad have been. I wish I could've stayed forever, and it's only a matter of time before I figure out the next way I can get back there. I have gained life-long friends from all over Europe and all over America that I made wonderful memories with. I gained knowledge about the world and other cultures that I couldn't have understood had I just read about it in a book. I have grown as a person in so many ways. I have become a more open-minded, patient, appreciative person. I would not take back a second that I spent in Italy, and if I had one wish it would be to go back there forever. All of that wouldn't have been possible without SAI.

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: Florence University of the Arts Apicius: International School of Hospitality Squola
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.

All of the classes abroad are very hands-on. Instead of sitting in a history lecture for hours, we would walk around the city and see the things we were learning about. In wine class, we were able to taste the wines and look at the bottles we were learning about. In Italian class, we were matched up with Italian college students that we met with during class hours and outside of class hours. Learning information this way made it much easier to retain and more enjoyable to learn.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

SAI staff was so helpful- both the on-site staff and the staff back in California. They responded quickly to emails, and always had the student's best interest in mind. The on-site staff was very helpful in many different ways- from helping a sick student, showing us where to buy groceries, to giving us traveling advice outside of Florence.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

All of the apartments were so different from each other, but each apartment had everything the students needed. It was really cool to live next to Italian neighbors. We made friends with ours and had dinner with them on occasion.

* Food:

It's won't find better food anywhere in the world.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

SAI & FUA gave the students lots of opportunities to interact with the Florentine culture. Personally, I loved being matched up with an Italian student in my Italian class. We hung out a lot outside of class. She took me to her home in Sesto Fiorentino and introduced me to local places I wouldn't have known about without her.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Luckily, I did not have any health problems abroad. However, friends that needed to go to the doctor were helped by SAI staff and HTH covered the cost of her prescriptions.

* Safety:

In my apartment and at school I felt very safe. The only time I ever felt slightly uncomfortable was walking around late at night, however that can happen in any city, American or European.

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


* 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)

If you buy groceries from the market, and aren't shopping/eating out all the time- living is very affordable. The problem I had was traveling costs: flights, buses, trains, and taxi costs add up.

* Was housing included in your program cost? Yes
* Was food included in your program cost? No
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Make a budget before you go!


* 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 were always opportunities to be a part of the Florence community.

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

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
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?
  • I am lucky enough to have studied abroad with SAI twice: once in Sicily, and once in Florence. If that doesn't speak for how much I liked the program then I'll write some more.... SAI is very flexible and willing to do as much as they can to meet the student's needs. They are also very organized which makes the process before going abroad and the time spent over there go very smoothly. I felt fully prepared to go abroad after all the pre-departure information they gave us. They also offer great excursions to go on, throughout and outside of Italy. Some of my favorite memories are from those trips.
* What could be improved?
  • I am totally satisfied with my program choice.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That there was an interactive map on the SAI website with the locations of the schools/restaurants/etc. It would've been helpful in those first couple weeks.