I am so grateful for this program Past Review

By (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?
I learned so much every single day. Even though Florence has so many tourists/american students that it may seem like it could get boring or annoying, I was never bored or annoyed. I saw something new every day. I learned to truly savor each moment of life, and to trust in myself. I gained the confidence to go wherever I wanted and meet new people all the time. The classes I took changed my life, and I feel so enriched by the academic side of the program. I also ate some of the most amazing food I'm sure I will ever eat in my life.

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? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Like the Sarah Lawrence home campus in Bronxville, there is a lot of work that you are responsible for. But because of the academic rigor of the Florence program, the experience is infinitely more meaningful than simply a vacation in Italy.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The women who run the school, Cristina, Paola, and Irene are some of the most devoted and creative people I have ever met. They know how to create unforgettable experiences and have so many connections and resources throughout the city, and even beyond Florence. There are so many opportunities that the administration provides, as well as basically anything you could need. They are always there for you, with smiles and genuine care! So patient and giving. I am in awe!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I think that a crucial element of this program is the fact that we were all given our own room. With the intense workload and the amount of walking (because florence is so small you walk EVERYWHERE and its awesome) it was very important to have your own space to go back to at the end of the day, or at any time of day. Getting enough sleep is important in this kind of environment, because staying healthy is the key to enjoying the city and getting as much as possible out of the limited time an abroad experience can provide in a new country. Living with a host family with your own room is the ideal way to go abroad because it is the only way to learn the language, and is the unique balance of independence and security.

* Food:

Breakfast and dinner are part of the program, and it is a good opportunity to practice speaking Italian and learning about the regional food of Tuscany. There were a lot of vegetables, which was great. Italy has really amazing quality of food, so I stayed healthy and in shape with all the walking (even though I ate a lot of gelato).

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Florence is notorious among Italians for being a more closed culture, meaning they don't open up as easily to Americans or foreigners in general, but I think the Sarah Lawrence program is set up in a way that gives you such an advantage with the language that it is possible to break through that barrier. I stayed for a whole year, and really feel able to navigate the city easily. I have explored all over, and feel really comfortable knowing where I am and where I'm going, and I can communicate in a way that usually impresses Florentines, who normally encounter american students who are basically ignorant of the language. I owe this cultural advantage to living in a home stay where my Italian was used all the time.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The administration helps so much if you need anything, including a trip to the doctor, or even knowing which pharmacy is closest to your house.

* Safety:

The only thing that is difficult about living in a home stay is potentially not having someone to walk with, as you're normally meeting up with friends out, instead of leaving or coming back together. However, Florence is a relatively safe city, compared to other metropolitan cities at night. As long as you know where you are, which absolutely takes time, because Florence can be confusing at first, you are safe. I would say the only incidents I have had have been interacting with men constantly giving unwanted attention. But the city is small enough and there are busses and bikes and other ways to get from place to place quickly, so I would feel comfortable walking anywhere at night.

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)

It is very easy to find affordable food in Florence. But it will be tempting to go for drinks, which gets expensive, and traveling around Europe definitely adds up, even with budget airlines, trains etc. Overall, it is easy to have an amazing time for not very much money. Definitely not excessive extra costs than you would have at home. Also being able to walk makes a huge money saving difference.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? about $100 maximum I would say. Some weeks I could get by with $30.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Don't eat out that much! Buy as much as you can at the markets instead of at the grocery stores. Always take the bus or walk. Walk everywhere! Book flights and trains in advance if you want to get them for affordable prices.


* 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

The administration only spoke to us in Italian, and all the teachers and host families are very patient when communicating.

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? Beginning Italian
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? Just try not to be afraid of messing up. Most italians don't speak with perfect grammar and will understand you better than you think. Also a glass of wine with dinner helps the conversation!

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Host Family
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
  • 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 size. Having a small community was really important when living in a city.
  • The school itself was such an amazing environment.
* What could be improved?
  • More time spent with the Italian classes walking around the city.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had known more about the history of Florence before I came, especially art history. But even coming in with almost no knowledge of Florentine art history, I feel like I was able to appreciate everything fully.

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.'

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Intermediate Italian

Course Department:
Instructor: Edoardo Tacchi
Instruction Language: Italian/english
Comments: My first semester in Florence, I was placed in the intermediate class after having taken 1 year of beginning Italian in bronxville. This helped me grow in ways that many other classes have not. I switched into the advanced class 2nd semester, but without this strong foundation I wouldn't be near the level of conversational Italian that I am today--so comfortable speaking to anyone. Not only was it a truly free space for questioning and participating, but also a space where we learned so much about Italian culture. We listened to music, talked about life, food, wine, and each other's interests. It was a privilege to begin each morning with this class. Also there's a cappuccino break, which doesn't hurt!! I love Edoardo!
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Art on Paper

Course Department:
Instructor: Swietlan Kraczyna
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This is maybe the best decision I have ever made in my life. I had never taken an art class before, and after my year in Art on Paper I will never look at life the same way. I highly reccommend taking art while in Florence, because it gives new meaning to seeing all of the gorgeous art that the city is famous for. Also in traveling Europe throughout the year, I was able to continue the skills that I gained from the class. Unbelievably supportive teacher, and the community of people working at the printmaking school is inspiring.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Italy, Europe, and the European Union

Course Department:
Instructor: Davide Lombardo
Instruction Language: English
Comments: I have never felt so comfortable learning and asking questions than in this class. When talking about a difficult subject such as political history as well as current events, it is important to have a teacher who is not afraid to get into all sides of the argument. I am unable to express fully how much I have learned about myself and the world after choosing to take this comprehensive class.
Credit Transfer Issues: