I'll Be Back November 22, 2019

By (Saint Mary's College of California) - abroad from 08/28/2018 to 12/14/2018 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. 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. It's changed my perspective in life and made me look more at the big picture instead of stressing about small details

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.

I had an amazing educational experience while abroad. 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.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

SAI made my study abroad experience incredible. They were extremely helpful and an amazing resource while I was there. I would go in all the time just to talk or even get recommendations. They were so friendly and welcoming, willing to do so much for you. They also planned incredible trips and activities for us that I would never have done otherwise like pizza making, book making, and tours of the city. I cannot sing enough praises for the SAI.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My living accommodations were surreal. I lived in an apartment with four other girls in the center of the city. It was relatively large, had a washer, and was furnished. I never felt like I was too crowded or small. It was perfect for us.

* Food:

Italy has some of the best food in the world so it's hard to go wrong. You could literally walk into almost any restaurant and find out of this world food. I think the small whole in the wall places were the best and most authentic. The gelato was insane too, which I had almost every day. I also cooked at the my apartment too to and it was easy because the produce stands had really fresh food and we had a grocery store across the street from our house.

* 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 Italians, and we would go buy fresh food everyday which was also typical. However, 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. Luckily, knowing Italian isn't a necessity so you can definitely get by without having to know it, but it 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 related issues but my roommate had to go to the doctor. One of the SAI staff members went along with her to translate and make her feel more comfortable. She said that the doctors were very nice.

* Safety:

I never felt unsafe once! I did take precautions like keeping a hand on my purse, not going out by myself late at night, and not making myself a target. However, Italy does have a reputation for petty crime, specifically thievery. I was never a victim of this, but I do know of some people who were. My advice is to just be aware of your surroundings at all times and don't look like a target.

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

SAI was amazing and extremely helpful with whatever I needed. They prioritized my needs.

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)

It was definitely manageable to budget, which some of my friends did. For me, I saved a lot of money before I went so I wouldn't have to do that necessarily, but it's definitely possible

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 125
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Know what you want to prioritize when you study abroad whether that's traveling, food, shopping, or whatever and make sacrifices in the other parts.

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? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • great resource
  • fun activities
  • friendly staff
* What could be improved?
  • more time
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Don't be nervous or scared! Step outside the box and try new things. You will not regret it!

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 Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'