Just Go August 06, 2014

By (Accounting, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee) - abroad from 09/05/2011 to 04/27/2012 with

Santa Reparata International School of Art: Fine Art, Design, Liberal Arts, Italian Language + Internships in Florence

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained an awareness of those around me. I'm a white suburban middle class girl, and so I have never been in a situation that took me really outside of my comfort zone. This experience did that. I did not speak the same language as the majority, and so it taught me patience with those learning English. I also learned the true meaning of confidence. The ability to do things that I wouldn't think I could do. I may fail, in fact I got my first A- in my drawing class, but I tried and I got better. I will never forget what I learned and I swear, everyone should go. I didn't plan it well, and so It ended up adding an extra year to my overall education, but honesty, it was still worthwhile. It is the best thing I have ever done so far.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The professors are incredible. They challenged me to re-evaluate my assumptions about education, and life in general. I'm a business major (accounting) and I took my first drawing class in years. The most exceptional thing that happened, was the history and culture professor brought in the art professor. It was the first time I saw two different disciplines work together like that, and it was amazing because hearing about the art really solidified how the culture of the time was evolving. Also I loved all of the optional field trips but the one to Naples, Pompeii and Sorrento was a do not miss.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

It's a smaller school so the administration is really responsive to any issues that come up.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The apartments they arranged were centrally located and close to the school, but pretty far from the big grocery store (il centro was close). I also shared an apartment with 4 other girls. That's right, four, so there were five of us and only one shower the first semester. Also the wifi in the apartment was crazy expensive and not everyone thought we needed it so two of us paid the fee, I think it was like 100 euro for the spring semester, it was cheaper for the fall because everyone helped pay.

* Food:

The best Chinese food is just around the corner (though I don't recommend the wontons) and a sandwich shop two blocks down ( Li X Li) that was unbelievable.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Even though Florence is a touristy city, English is not very commonly spoken, so it was very much an immersion experience. I do know other students that didn't feel as connected for one reason or another, but for me, my Italian may have been horrible, but the only way to improve is to practice, so I would talk to random strangers on the train and anywhere I went. I spent spring break in Sicily, and I toured the ruins at Agrigento with a woman who spoke German and Italian, but no English. I never had a better time in my life.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Bring cold medications, you will probably get sick and cough drops are crazy expensive. other than that there weren't any health issues that I was aware of.

* Safety:

It's a major city, so as long as you take common sense precautions (if you party make sure you don't go out by yourself, act like you know where you're going even if you don't), you'll be fine

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)

The food and personal expenses weren't that bad, easily less than 100 euro a week, but the biggest expense came from traveling.

Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? When you travel on your own, price out the trip on your own and compare it to the student travel agencies ( my best luck was with bus2alps and florenceforfun)

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

from the second semester the Italian class was all in Italian. Beyond that all of the classes were in English, though the professors and staff did encourage us to interact with those around us and helped with any translation questions we would have.

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? Intermediate
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Spanish 2
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? Talk to random people. Anyone you meet. Italians are very friendly.

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Direct Enrollment

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
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?
  • Professors
  • Classes
  • Ability to travel
* What could be improved?
  • 8 am is no time to have a cooking class
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Sometimes using a student travel agency is cheaper than going on your own and sometimes it isn't do research.

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 Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!