Non-stop Amazing Adventure March 13, 2019

By (Saint Mary's College of California) - abroad from 08/28/2018 to 12/13/2018 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 as a person, which I was not expecting because I thought I was pretty in touch with who I was. But, it was cool to learn new things about myself. I also feel like I gained a lot of cultural capital as well because I've visited, seen, and learned about all these amazing things, like art and culture, that I had only ever dreamed of. I would study abroad again in a heartbeat.

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.

My educational experience was amazing during my time abroad. I attend Florence University of the Arts. All of my peers were other study abroad students and the classes were taught in English by Italian professors. It was the best of both worlds because we got to speak English but be taught by an Italian professor and learn about their culture and education in Italy. The courses weren't overwhelmingly difficult at all. The professors were really understanding in knowing that student's want to travel so they don't assign a lot of homework. Despite not having a lot of work, I did learn a lot in my classes and enjoyed the opportunity to learn about things that I would have never had the opportunity to learn. The professors were extremely accessible and welcomed any student to contact them for whatever reason, which I utilized a few times regarding questions that I had for some assignments. Overall, my educational experience added to my study abroad experience.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

SAI Programs was the best!!! They were such a great help and amazing resource while I was there. The first week, which was orientation, they gave us so much helpful information and tips that made the transition to living in Italy easier. They were all super friendly and knowledgeable about Florence and utilized that all the time. I would go into their office just to say hello, work on a puzzle, or even ask them for recommendations for places to eat or where to buy certain things from. I never had to go to the doctors for any reason, but my roommate did, and one of the SAI staff members went along with her to translate and make her feel more comfortable. They also planned incredible trips and activities for us that I would never have done otherwise. I cannot sing enough praises for the Florence SAI staff.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in an apartment in the exact middle of the city with four other girls and I absolutely loved it! I got along great with my roommates, we're still in contact even after we went home. The apartment was furnished with everything we could possibly need, and if something was wrong, we could put a work order in and they would come and fix it. The apartment itself was really big and spacious so we never felt like we were living on top of each other. It was really nice to have that independence that comes from living on your own.

* Food:

Since we lived by ourselves in an apartment we had to cook for ourselves, which was something that I actually enjoyed. Since Italian food is very carb heavy, cooking on my own allowed me to get my protein and vegetables in my diet. Also, the grocery store was right around the corner from my apartment so I would usually buy food almost everyday to make dinner with. Or I would go to a produce stand to get food as well, which was really fresh. Typically, I would cook on the weekdays and eat out on thew weekends which I found to work out really well for my budget and a well-rounded diet.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I feel like I definitely integrated some aspects of Italian culture into my lifestyle, but still kept some American qualities as well. For example, we would eat later, at around 8, which was normal for Italian, and we would go buy fresh food everyday which was also typical for Italian. I didn't know the language prior to coming and I did learn a little while I was there, just enough to ask for basic things, which was one of the biggest ways I didn't feel connected to their culture while I was there.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I never had any health problems during my time abroad. I did have health insurance that was provided by my program that was really great. One of my roommates did have to go to the doctors and an SAI staff member accompanied her to translates and make her feel more comfortable. She said that everything went well, but the doctor didn't have the same bedside manners that she was accustomed to back in the states.

* Safety:

I never felt unsafe once! Granted I did take precautions like keeping a hand on my purse, not going out by myself late at night, and talking to strange people and telling them where I live. However, Italy does have a reputation for petty crime, specifically thievery, which I didn't experience once. None of my friends had any mishaps either. My advice is to just be aware of your surroundings at all times.

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

I loved SAI as a program and all of the opporutnies they offered. I especially loved the staff in Florence because they were so friendly, knowledgeable, and just great people. I would find any excuse to go to the office just to see them and say hi. They made my experience as smooth as they possibly could.

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)

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Don't impulsively buy things, especially expensive things. Don't eat out everyday because that get's expensive! Your money has to last you an entire semester and you can't work either. Instead of buying material things, I found that I preferred to spend my money on trips rather than other things.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

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?
  • They were extremely accessible
  • Had plenty of opportunities for activities and trips
  • A great resources to make your life easier
* What could be improved?
  • another trip at the end of the semester to bring it full circle
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Don't be nervous or scared! SAI is there to help you every step of the way and want to see you do well and succeed during your time there. They will do everything in their power to make your life easier and help you however they can.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.