Best experience of my life! March 28, 2023

By (Media and Communications and English, Muhlenberg College) - abroad from 09/27/2022 to 12/15/2022 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Independence, self-trust and confidence, cultural immersion, etc and absolutely! Would 100% recommend SAI to anyone who wants to venture outside of their comfort zone.

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 loved SAI! The classes were engaging and enjoyable, and many of them including field learning and trips around the city. SAI offered ample opportunities to travel outside of class as well, which I thought was awesome. The program also provided a list of resources we could utilize and always was in communication with us.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I loved the administration members for the most part, they were very enthusiastic and attentive about the program and to our needs. My only reason for not giving the full five stars is because my roommates and I were having a bad roommate problem that I do not feel like was dealt with in an appropriate way.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in a beautiful, clean apartment on the residential side of the river, which I adored. Many of my friends wish they had lived on my side of the river because they did feel like they were only exposed to the touristy, busy areas. My side felt more authentically Florentine and I feel like living there gave me an easier ability to explore and be exposed to a new place.

* Food:

I wish there had been some sort of a meal plan or even meal vouchers at businesses around the city as SAI students because food got expensive, and it was hard to have a balanced diet.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Living on the more residential side, I did feel like I was more integrated into the local culture. However, I also participated in a SPEL Program which required me to go into the city and interview/interact with locals. Many students I was friends with did not feel as integrated and since I really made the effort and also came with extensive Italian language experience, I felt integrated but it is easy to stay in the "study abroad bubble."

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

N/A because I never had a health issue, but my roommates did and it was dealt with swiftly.

* Safety:

Personally, I felt safe but I also did not consume any alcohol abroad and did not go out late. Friends who went out at night had different opinions but I never felt unsafe myself

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

SAI genuinely makes an effort to serve as not only a support system for students, but also in encouraging them to try new things! SAI frequently holds Viva experiences which offers students with trips outside of Florence as well as classes that expose students to Florentine culture and community (ex: cooking classes, gold leafing, bookmaking, etc) Very kind and supportive staff who want to see you succeed and check in frequently, would 100% recommend SAI Florence!


* 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)

While Florence groceries are not very expensive, not having a meal plan or voucher was tough. I rarely ate three meals a day because it got too pricy.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 100
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Create a budget prior to arriving!


* 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

I do feel like SAI wanted to integrate us with Italians. They held the survival workshop during orientation but it would have been awesome if there could have been Italian conversation practice sessions or something.

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? Italian 4 Honors
How many hours per day did you use the language? 0
Do you have any tips/advice on the best ways to practice the language for future study abroad participants? Go to local shops and familiarize yourself with them and with speaking Italian. Repetition and using the language with the same people shows that you are making an effort to integrate, as well as makes it less daunting since you are building familiar relationships.

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

  • Local Students
  • 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?
  • SAI Viva Experiences and Engagement with Community
  • Constant communication
  • Enthusiasm of staff members
* What could be improved?
  • Housing conflicts could be dealt with better
  • Meal plan
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Don't be afraid to be assertive