Veramente Indimenticabile Past Review

By (Political Science and Government., Brandeis University) - abroad from 01/13/2012 to 05/13/2012 with

Sarah Lawrence in Florence

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
This question is hard to answer because there is no way I can truly verbalize what I have gained from my experience abroad. But I will try. Because of my semester at Sarah Florence, I have a different outlook on life and a nostalgia for a place that seems like a dream. I have learned so much about myself and others and the world. I don't even think I fully understand all the effects of my semester in Florence yet. It was the most worthwhile thing I have ever done. If I could, I would pay for every college junior to go abroad. It is truly something that everyone should experience in their lifetime.

Review Photos

Sarah Lawrence in Florence Photo Sarah Lawrence in Florence Photo

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 academic aspect of the program was extremely feasible, compared to the demands of my home institution. However, I do think that my professors often assigned a lot of work (mostly readings) and forgot that we also need time to explore and experience the city. Managing both was a whole new kind of challenge.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Administration = four fashionable ladies who worked in the office. They were all very sweet women but many of the students on the program did not think they did enough. I felt comfortable going to them for help, but I wish they had been more present. However, they knew what they were doing and were a wealth of information and assistance to those who reached out.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

This is a tricky question for me. The actual house where I was placed was lovely! It was a large apartment that sat on a large boulevard (or viale in Italian) in safe neighborhood. My sheets and towels were always clean and the food always delicious. However, the actual family was rather disappointing. A mom, dad, and two sons - they were too busy with their own lives to take much of an interest in me. They hosted MANY students before me and I could tell that they thought we were all the same. I had really been looking for that lasting bond with a friendly host family, and unfortunately I did not find it there. Eating dinner with four people who don't speak to you at all for the whole hour is a rather depressing situation indeed. I will say that my host-mom's mother (my host grandma) was lovely and she always liked to ask me questions and we had many a nice conversation.

* Food:


* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Florentinians are inherently rather cold and hard to get to know. If I had not joined the University of Florence choir I probably would not have gotten the chance to befriend any native people. But once you've gained their trust they are very nice and I got rather close with several individuals in my choir. That being said, if a panini maker or cashier thinks you are American they will speak to you in English. You have to be persistent in that. It is a tourist town and unless you say otherwise, you are considered a tourist.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I never had any healthcare issues. But a boy on my program did and it seemed that he was very well taken care of.

* Safety:

Florence is generally a safe city, but students need to be smart. It is not like a college campus. One should really not walk around by themselves very late at night. I rarely felt unsafe walking back at 11pm or 12am, but anytime after that I would make sure I had a buddy.

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


* 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)

Buying myself lunch everyday was not that cost-effective. Florence is an expensive city. I would have loved to been able to do more shopping (especially for leather goods!). But, the prices were very high (and the exchange rate even higher). Also, packing all that stuff to go home again would have been nearly impossible. Budgeting properly is possible in Florence. You shouldn't have to deprive yourself of gelato or eat crap for lunch because you want to save money. Many students on my program did this. I did not, but didn't over spend nor go shopping for non-food too often. Therefore, I did not find it too difficult to manage my expenses and I came home with some money still in my bank account.

* Was housing included in your program cost? Yes
* Was food included in your program cost? Yes
Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Around 45 euro a week
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Don't be too frugal. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and in order to make the absolute most of it, you are going to have to spend quite a bit of dough. But you won't regret it in the long run.


* 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

In classes where the professor taught in Italian it was highly encouraged. And on school sponsored field trips it was also encouraged. However, in the lounge, around the school, at school social functions the students did not feel the slightest bit motivated to speak in Italian. This was very frustrating for me. I really wanted to be using Italian all the time.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Advanced
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Fluent
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Italian 134
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? SPEAK SPEAK SPEAK. Try and force your friends to speak only that language with you when you just hanging out. Listen to music in that language and watch movies in that language.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* 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?
  • The city - Florence
  • The courses/professors
  • The people
* What could be improved?
  • Usage of Italian
  • Longer hours for the school to be open
  • Host Family's Atitude
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? It goes by SO fast. You really must constantly remind yourself to savor each moment.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Advanced Italian Language

Course Department: Italian
Instructor: Lorenzo Pubblicci
Instruction Language: Italian
Comments: Lorenzo was with out a doubt a life-changing professor. Never again will I have such a charismatic, engaging, and extremely intelligent professor who cares so much about his students and never stops teaching them. His (and this class's) only flaw is that he showed one too many movies. I would much prefer his lectures to movies. The time at Sarah Florence goes by so fast, and every class meeting is sacred.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Italy, Europe, and the European Union

Course Department: Political Science/International Relations
Instructor: Davide Lombardo
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Davide was also an incredible professor. Class discussions were never in short supply and that is because he would facilitate them by bringing up all sorts of important and relevant information by way of videos or articles or anything! We went to special lectures and visited former socialist community centers. But Davide's greatest strength was in guiding me in my independent research/conference project (a 10-20 page research paper on a topic i choose). My paper about the EU turned out to be so much more than I could have hoped and that is because of him. His intelligence and caring about his students was always evident.
Credit Transfer Issues: