Past Review

By (Communication and Drama, 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?
It's definitely made me more conscientious of how other cultures perceive us as Americans, and sensitive to not reinforcing that stereotype. It gave me a glimpse into the Italian way of life and what they value. My experience has also made me consider going abroad again after I graduate from college, if I can find a way to do so.

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: Florence University of the Arts (primarily) and Apicius International School of Hospitality (one course)
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.

As I mentioned before, my professors were great resources both academically and socially. They knew their subjects well and were eager to help; they also gave pointers about places to see and restaurants to eat at, etc. Also, as aforementioned, their teaching methods were unimaginative compared to Trinity and relied solely on lectures sometimes complimented by video. My World Religions class was an exception since it also functioned heavily off of class discussion, much like courses at Trinity. The grading system is easier than Trinity with less qualitative feedback on assignments. The assignments were less demanding than those given at Trinity.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program itself, SAI, was present and approachable, but could have been more involved in our lives and in getting us acclimated to Florence. They did a good job being involved the first week of our arrival, but took a backseat after that. If you had a question they were there to answer it, but were not constantly updating you about places to go, things to do, etc. while there. This lack, however, was fulfilled by the university FUA and Squola (the center of Italian language studies). Faculty and staff at these institutions did an incredible job of informing us of what was going on in the community, planning field trips to different parts of Florence and nearby towns, and offering social clubs and events related to our interests and that would put us in touch with the community (e.g. - The Italian Family Club that I was a part of). The program size itself was fine. My classes were anywhere from 8 people (in Sewing) to 25 in a typical lecture course. I felt comfortable with the size of my classes and appreciated the close interaction it allowed with other students and professors.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Near the Santa Croce. <br /><br /> We had a great, spacious apartment located very close to school and within 12 minute walking distance to the center of the city. Everything we needed was close by. I also felt very safe. We arrived at the apartment with all necessary amenities provided for. We did, however, experience finicky plumbing and heating at times, but it's be expected. We adapted and SAI readily responded to any maintenance issues we may have had.

* Food:

The food in Italy is absolutely incredible. I either cooked meals at home or ate out.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Wow. So many moments--watching over 500 Italians stand on the steps of the Florence Cathedral and recite an excerpt from Dante's Inferno in unison, having dinner with the family of and in the home of an Italian woman from the grocery store, watching a play in Italian and having very little clue what was going on (they spoke so quickly!), our program's wine tasting field trip to Castello di Verazzano where we ate, drank wine, and learned the winemaker's life philosophy, and watching the Explosion of the Cart on Easter Day in front of the Duomo....just to name a few.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I thankfully had no health issues while there. Our program was very attentive to safety issues and informing us of how best to stay safe.

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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? It depended on if--and how much--I ate out, shopped,or traveled that week...Anywhere from $80 to over $200.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Create a budget and also try to plan trips ahead of time to get better deals on flights and lodging.


* 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?

I didn't know any Italian beyond a few phrases when I arrived in Italy. Through coursework and interacting with locals in the city my Italian vocabulary improved substantially, but my grammar still needed work. While many people speak English in Florence, they appreciate it when you make an attempt to speak their language. You could function off of English alone, but would only reconfirm their idea of the arrogant American. I did my best to use Italian as much as possible. I also had a neat opportunity;I applied and got into a program administered through Squola (the school that gave us our Italian language lessons). The program paired me up with an Italian family that I could spend time with throughout the semester. It was a truly wonderful experience that I will never forget. I ate in their home, learned new recipes, joined their family at functions, and practiced my Italian with them. They were truly generous and warm people.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

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  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

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  • Americans

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Someone who's independent and isn't searching for the exotic. Florence is a lovely place. I am so happy I studied abroad there and hope to return soon. But the truth is...there are tons of American students in Florence, many of whom aren't taking the time and making an effort to learn about the Italians. If you love art, history, walkable cities, and food this is a great place to study.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

World Religions

Course Department:
Instructor: Simonetta Ferrini
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Simonetta is an amazing instructor. She's very sharp, extremely knowledgeable, and open-minded. She did a good job in providing a detailed survey-course for us about the different religions,and asked thought-provoking questions to stimulate class discussions. We also had a trip to the Jewish Synagogue in Florence, which was very interesting.
Credit Transfer Issues: Currently I'm still waiting for my transcript to arrive at my home institution.
Course Name/Rating:

Food, Culture, and Society in Italy

Course Department:
Instruction Language: English
Comments: A class that is meant to be an anthropology course complemented by cooking/"lab tastings." The academic component of the class wasn't strong enough in terms of providing historical and cultural information about the different regions and dishes. The instructor also did not make clear his expectations about assignments or explain information in an easy-to-follow manner.
Credit Transfer Issues: