By (Foreign Languages and Literatures, Sarah Lawrence College) - abroad from 09/09/2014 to 05/15/2015 with

Sarah Lawrence in Florence

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
This program was worth every second.

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.

This program is amazing, especially if you have a love for art and foreign language. They ensure that you will exceed your expectations in Italian fluency; in comparison to many other American students studying abroad there, the locals were constantly amazed by how well we spoke Italian. I began with no knowledge of Italian and thanks to some amazing professors, consistent exposure through daily courses and conversations with host families, by the end of the program I was able to speak not only with them, but Florentines themselves. The program is great in that they truly evaluate your abilities throughout the year and track your improvement in more ways than just tests. Not only that, but they offer many resources to help with language acquisition, which includes the very many trips to places all over Italy!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I adored the women that I lived with, the apartment was beautiful in a quiet neighborhood and only 20 minutes walking to school.

* Food:

If anything, go to Florence for the FOOD. Nobody does food like the Italians.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Living with a host family really helped to practice the language and integrate ourselves within local culture, but it does take a while to get to the level of comfort with the language to really start talking to people outside the home and school. Being persistent is key.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

If I ever had a problem, my program would help in an instant, all I had to do was ask.

* Safety:

Florence is a very safe city, but it is still a city so be aware and alert just like you would any other place.

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)

I was very frugal the first semester because my biggest concern was traveling for the entirety of winter and spring break, which I was able to do successfully. With this program, you are fed breakfast and dinner 6 days a week, which leaves you responsible only for lunch. I didn't splurge on restaurants every day like some students but rather went to the grocery store on a weekly basis, and usually brought lunch. I spent, on average, under $30.00 per week on groceries, which includes my daily cappuccino fix.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Average was less than $30
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Don't spend your money shopping the instant you get there, you will have enough time. Space it out so that you don't end up with $0 at the end.


* 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

Encouragement everyday, this program wants you to become fluent and really succeeds. 2 hour language courses 4 times a week, a bi-weekly meeting with your professor to go over your homework, tests, essays, etc, traveling and the host family, the goal is to learn Italian, and you will.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Beginner
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? I had never taken Italian, but was at an advanced level of Spanish.
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? Get a basic grammar book, and start learning daily phrases.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • 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?
  • Food
  • Learning about a culture from a local perspective
  • Traveling
* What could be improved?
  • More publicity on the program
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The amount of trips that we go on. The program wants you to see Italy, and encourages you to do your own traveling as well. We went to many cities over the year outside of Florence with the entire program, as well as with separate classes.

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!