Can I go back please?! Forever? Past Review

By (Biology, General., University of Arkansas - Fayetteville) - abroad from 05/14/2012 to 06/22/2012 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I loved becoming more and more like a local and speaking the language was amazing. The people there are so sweet and interesting. I learned that the world is a big place full of different people and cultures who will change you forever. Every person I spoke to impacted me, the culture changed me and I don't think about things blindly anymore. I consider other factors and people that as far as I knew didn't exist 3 months ago and now I never want to forget them. Stepping outside of my comfort zone and trying to become part of something bigger than myself was amazing. It was eye-opening to learn the differences between the US and other countries. I also felt like I was on a different side of the table than I am in the US where we tend to be the comfortable ones with the new people all around trying to adjust to our ways. I understand what it probably feels like to stick out and do things backwards, and be corrected for it by total strangers. I had no idea what it was like to be different. It was an amazing, eye-opening, life changing experience that everyone should find a way to do and I can't even explain it half as well as I know it was.

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: FUA Intermediate Italian II, FUA Food and Culture of Tuscany, FUA Renaissance Artists Workshop
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 academic rigor was appropriate for 6 week courses in a foreign country. Any of the professors would tell you that you learn so much more from experiencing Italy, Italian, food, and culture by actually seeing, hearing, speaking, and tasting. Which is why many of the assignments revolved around doing just that. It was perfect for a summer course.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

If you wanted to drop a course without receiving a W in your home institution you had to drop before the first class ever met. I found that to be really big problem. I didn't drop any courses but I would have liked to at least have had the opportunity.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Our apartment was very small and most people came with their roommates from their home institutions which was fine. But myself and my two roommates seemed to be the only ones that did not know each other before and we made it work, but it seemed like the personal profiles weren't really considered. It seemed as if we were the three leftovers that got thrown in together.

* Food:

Its Italy... The food is amazing everywhere

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Although I loved Florence for ease of travel to other places, the city is overrun with Americans during the summertime and if it weren't for one of my classes I wouldn't have explored far enough to meet any Italians within the city.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

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)

Italy is expensive but it is very easy to eat cheaply. My roommates and I would get a pizza and a cheap bottle of wine and have a picnic once a week to watch the sunset, not bad for 5 euro each. Also we kept salami, fresh bread, and cheese stocked for lunch which cut back on a lot of extra costs.

* Was housing included in your program cost? Yes
* Was food included in your program cost? No
Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? approximately $200-$250 a week depending on excursions I took over the weekends.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Find the grocery stores and shop for souvenirs away from the central piazzas (squares) and train stations. Everything around where tourists are is way too expensive and chances are you can ask around to find where the locals shop and where goods are sold from Italy, not from China. There are no laws really against saying something is "Made in Italy" and something that doesn't so don't always trust what you read. Chances are if it looks cheap and manufactured, you're getting ripped off.


* 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? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Beginning Italian II
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? Just speak it as much as you can. Most Italians will love it when you at least attempt their language and if they get frustrated with you speaking Italian, just tell them you have to speak it for a class and keep pushing it. The best way to find out restaurants and shops is by asking an Italian in Italian.

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?
  • The courses I took
  • Four day weekends to travel
  • Location, Location, Location
* What could be improved?
  • Housing
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That I would want to move there and stay forever, so I wish I would have signed up for a longer trip!