A really memorable, excellent experience. Past Review

By (Finance/Economics, English Literature, SUNY - Buffalo) - abroad from 05/30/2012 to 07/14/2012 with

Syracuse University: Florence - Syracuse University in Florence, Summer

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
This was definitely a memorable, incredible experience. The exposure to art history is amazing, and it was certainly an experience unlike any other. I also learned a lot about the cultural differences that hinder business exchange between our two nations, entrepreneurship, as well as some of the programs set up by the US government protecting the US market from foreign penetration. This program was definitely worthwhile.

Review Photos

Syracuse University: Florence - Syracuse University in Florence, Summer Photo Syracuse University: Florence - Syracuse University in Florence, Summer Photo Syracuse University: Florence - Syracuse University in Florence, Summer Photo Syracuse University: Florence - Syracuse University in Florence, Summer Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The Leonardo da Vinci class was a lot of fun and Dr. Zaloga was definitely a very informative teacher. I also really enjoyed working with the entrepreneurs of the SEEDLAB program, as well as attending the lectures in brand management, etc hosted for SEEDLAB. Professors Spini and Anselmi were definitely the highlight of my experience at SU Florence. The conversational Italian class was tons of fun, quirky, and super easy. Academically, SUF Florence is the best way to learn and enjoy yourself during the summer.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Overall, they are fine...Unless you have a documents inquiry/problem which would require a great deal of emailing, nagging, screaming and pushing on your part.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

the housing with the host family was a bit of a culture shock because I came to Italy with the large stereotype in my mind of the perfect, warm, close-knit Italian famiglia who is constantly feeding you, and whose entire goal for the summer is to hug you, try to make you comfortable, as well as make you a part of their family. Well, I was wrong. The living quarters that I had were quite good, but the family itself resembled a typical dysfunctional and detached modern American family. While they lived up to the famous Italian bickering, it was their utter indifference and detachment that was really appalling. I was fortunate, however, to have been exposed to the older generations of my host family who treated me to family dinners, took me to their old family estate in the heart of Chianti, and overall improved my outlook on the Italian family institution. However, some of my peers weren't so fortunate. Some had to even pay for the use of wifi in their host quarters.

* Food:

Oh my goodness! This was the worst part of it! I don't bar-hop, which would make any food taste better after a few shots, so I got to struggle first-hand with the Italian food. It is flavorless, WAAAAY overpriced, and limited. And the water in Italy is INSANELY expensive due to the summer's heat, so be prepared to cash out a large portion of your money not for the food but for the beverages to keep you alive in the heat. My #1 recommendation is EDI HOUSE a few steps off from the SUF campus. It's pricey, but the food is quite decent. (Tip: go for their pizzas, you'll love the size!) And any gnocchi is a safe bet, and the best food you will have in Italy.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The Italians, generally, are very much like Americans. However, I personally felt a lot safer in Rome than Florence. The men in Florence are terrible! They whistle at you, honk at you, make all kinds of remarks, and they are capable of anything. So to be safe do not wear any short skirts. In fact my friend, who lives in Florence, wears shorts under her skirts because it so happened several times that the men would simply lift her skirt in the middle of the day, on the streets, among crowds, just to get a quick thrill. If you want to see some of the best people in Italy go to Venice. They are wonderful! Very cultured, refined, polite, etc.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Florence does not feel safe at all. Pickpocketing is a major problem, and it is something which the SUF staff constantly reminds you to look out for. American students should also take heed of the trouble they can get into if they drink too much and start causing disturbances. The Italians are prepared to take action against you...with one particular case noted by the SUF staff being an American student who got stabbed by an Italian because that student got drunk, and being in an unfamiliar setting, wondered into the wrong apartment building and tried to break in into what he presumed was his host family's apartment. And suffice it to say, the owner acted in self-denfence. And as I mentioned before, the Italian men in Florence are terrible! Always try to travel with a walking buddy who is male.

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)

The water, the food! Oh my goodness! SOOOO expensive! Especially if you go to places like Capri, you will find prices that will make your eyes pop! The same can be said for anything in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan...stay away! But the best part was definitely Florence For Fun which allowed many of us to travel to numerous places without breaking the bank too much.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? per week: $500+
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Go with Florence for Fun for your travels, and for your lunches go to the food store or the little sandwich shop Taverna degli Artisti. The food store is more pocket-friendly because it offers a lot of pre-made pizzas, subs, etc which are dirt-cheap and come in large portions, which you can split and use on two different occasions.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

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 internship component, the support of the student life office, the mentoring of Professors Spini and Anselmi
  • the wine receptions, the cooking classes
  • the location, the school facility
* What could be improved?
  • the library: I tried to check out several books for my research, and while told that they were available, the librarian and myself were surprised to find them not on the shelf! And nowhere in the library! The facility is very cramped, limited and tiny.
  • The Skype Room/Computer Lab. There was never any reception in the Skype Room, and the computers in the computer lab never worked.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I knew it would be hot, but not THAT hot! There is no air conditioning in Italy, AND most important! NO SCREENS ON THE WINDOWS!!! SOOO... you will be eaten alive by mosquitoes at night unless you take specific measures! (P.S. if you go to the beach at Positano bring thick flip flops because it is impossible to walk on the sharp rocky surface of the beach which also gets super hot). When you go to churches, cover up!! And when you are going back home, you will be going through Rome. And the airport authorities will FOR SURE discover that your luggages are WAY overweight! This happened to me, and I was told that I exceeded the legal weight for a luggage, making it illegal for me to put it on the plane. This little speech was then followed by a quiet mention that for an extra 20 euro my luggage can miraculously can become "legal". So keep 20 euro handy,it will save you from many fees and a major headache.