Truly Life-Changing - Even on a Budget February 02, 2021

By (University of Michigan - Ann Arbor) - abroad from 07/03/2013 to 07/31/2013 with

Studio Arts College International (SACI): Florence - SACI in Florence, Summer

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My time abroad was my first international experience, and it was such a joy from start to finish. I believe my continued passion for drawing and printmaking is in-part thanks to the courses I took in Florence. Experiencing life in a new part of the world, not just as a tourist but through really living there, was so eye-opening and inspiring. Learning about the local history and culture was fascinating and contributed to my love of international travel.

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.

My drawing class was formative for my skills and perspective as an artist. The serigraphy course deepened my passion for printmaking and taught me not only technical skills, but how to find joy in the print process.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The apartment I shared with several classmates was perfect. It gave me a true Florence experience with its close proximity to local markets, and a well-equipped kitchen for cooking traditional meals.

* Food:

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Weekend trips were so enriching and truly made my abroad experience immersive. Each course encouraged students to experience local culture and explore the city.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

At no point did I feel unsafe during my experience. I often took walks alone during the day to travel to and from class, and to explore the area. At night, I would walk with classmates to get dinner and experience the night life, and we always felt safe.

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

8 years later, I still look back on my time in Florence so fondly. As an artist, it was a time of great inspiration and finding joy in making. The setting could not have been more perfect, and every day felt like an adventure. I will carry this month of experiences with me for the rest of my life.


* 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)

As a first generation college student from a lower middle class family, I didn’t have a large budget for my time abroad. Including art supplies, food, and minimal shopping, I spent about $100/week. This budget precluded me from experiencing as much local cuisine as I wanted as well as overnight weekend trips to other cities. However, my budget did not stop me from having a meaningful, varied experience.

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? Begin saving at least 6 months before your trip. It would be difficult to spend less than $600 USD in one month in Florence. $800-1000 is a safer range and will afford you more opportunities for travel and dining, as well as purchasing any souvineers. While abroad, shop at local markets and grocery stores so you can cook at home at least half of the time.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

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

  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Living in Florence
  • Drawing and Serigraphy Courses
  • Experiencing Historical Art
* What could be improved?
  • More Interaction with Local Residents
  • Italian Language Instruction
  • All Required Materials/Supplies Covered by Tuition
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Speaking Italian, even at a beginner level, would have been helpful. This was not a big barrier as many locals speak some English, but it would have come in handy at local markets and for a more enriching experience.

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!