The Best Four Months of My Life October 01, 2018

By (University of Missouri - Columbia) - abroad from 01/22/2018 to 05/10/2018 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned a lot about myself and what I want with my life after college. I also learned how to be independent by traveling and booking trips. It was an incredible semester and I would do it all over again if I could.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I took 5 classes while abroad and I thoroughly enjoyed each one. I took a digital marketing and international marketing class and I loved the way the classes were designed. We presented to local business owners and created a marketing plan to improve international visibility. We also created a digital presence for a company we created by creating a website, Instagram, and social media plan. I also took a psychology course which taught about the differences of American society to the Italian society. We used our own experiences to understand why Italians live how they do. I took a cultural class about the Italian culture and history. It was very interesting to learn about the history of the city I was living in. My last class I took was a yoga class were each week we learned different yoga positions and the benefits. One week, we attended an actual yoga studio taught in all Italian and with the Italian locals.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The SAI staff was extremely helpful and kind. They knew how to answer every question I had and genuinely wanted to help. SAI provides weekly cooking classes, day trips, book making, and some weekend trips where the staff attends and leads. They were all so nice and excited to be with us along for the trip too. They helped me when my wallet was stolen and wanted to make sure I had everything I needed to get a new passport and debit card.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I LOVED my apartment. It was right by Santa Croce so it was prime location to restaurants, the school, grocery stores, and practically anything. It was beautiful inside since it had just been redecorated. The kitchen had everything we needed. We had a TV and our rooms were a good size for all of us.

* Food:

The food was incredible. I was never disappointed by any restaurant or meal I got. Being abroad is a little pricey, but it really is the best food I've ever had. The grocery stores sell in less quantities than America so it was easy to cook for just one person especially when I was gone every weekend.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Florence is a touristy place so there were always Americans and other tourists around the city. In the winter, it was less crowded and I felt like I was not integrated with the locals and the Italian culture. As the summer approached, the city had more life and tourists visiting. SAI had a program to meet with Italian people and families which was a great way to meet more people and hear about their lives living in Florence. I also loved meeting the locals by going to the same restaurants frequently and they would begin to recognize me.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I got sick twice when I was in Florence and each time I got into the doctors and had medicine within hours. They were so good about making sure we were all healthy. It's included in the SAI pricing so it made going to the doctor extremely easy and affordable.

* Safety:

I thought that Florence was extremely safe to live in. It is constantly busy outside which made it easy to walk even at late hours because the city was still awake with bars, restaurants, tourists, and locals. People stay out later so it made walking home alone very easy. There was never a time I felt unsafe.

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)

Being abroad can be very expensive so I had to make sure to save up prior to going to Italy. It is possible to live on a tight budget, but it makes it a lot more exciting and do-able with a bigger budget. When traveling, there are a lot of restaurants that are on the cheaper end, but usually they do not have that country's traditional food. I think getting was the locals like to eat, makes traveling a little more exciting and culturally integrated.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $300
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? SAVE as much as you can! It is way better to go abroad with more than you expect to spend then leave in debt.

Language

* 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

SAI had classes to help understand the language a little more.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Beginner
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? Listen and try to understand when locals talk to each other.

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?
  • Location
  • Classes
  • Staff
* What could be improved?
  • Language Learning
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? It is more expensive than I expected.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.