Allison and the Duomo.
Overseas Study Program
Study abroad program(s): Florence
Term Abroad: Summer 2012
Why did you choose this program? After years of dreaming about Italy and its beautiful scenery, language, and culture, I finally decided it was time to see it! Florence was particularly appealing because it is in Tuscany (which looked beautiful) and I could take an art and Italian class.
Describe your favorite classes abroad. I particularly enjoyed the art class (I took watercolor, but drawing was also available) because I could observe some of the greatest pieces of art in history up close, which made it much easier to improve. Michelangelo's work was even more inspiring in person than in books. Also, we would draw and paint in gardens, piazzas, and in hotels, and people passing up would look at you in admiration.
What was housing like on your study abroad program? (where you lived, who you lived with, etc.) We stayed at Hotel Villani. It was awesome. It was a short walk to the famous and unrealistically beautiful Duomo. It feels very safe and you are likely to become good friends with others in your program.
What advice would you like to give to future study abroad students? Make time for adventure. Branch out. Embrace friendships within the program, but try to make sure that you are still getting what you want out of the program. What do you want to do? Meet locals? Practice the language? Travel and get to know the country you are staying in? Travel to surrounding countries? Determine your priorities so you can get the most out of the experience, but remain flexible and open to readjusting these as needed. Traveling and shopping can amount to a lot of money, so if you can save money before you go, this would open up possibilities.
What's your best memory from your time abroad? My best memory was from when I stayed in a town in Cinque Terre called Riomaggiore. I got a room that overlooked via Columbo, the main street of this small town. I had a balcony, and on the other side of the balcony was an Italian family. I made small talk with them sometimes, and since I stayed there for about 2 weeks after my program ended, I began developing a friendship with them.
What do you know now that you didn't know before you went abroad? A lot about art history! It is so much more interesting when you can see it.
What was your greatest challenge? Practicing Italian in real life. Yes, they speak some Italian in Florence and Cinque Terre, but they are also very good at English. Whenever I got nervous speaking Italian, I would use English, but this makes it hard to learn a language. If you are trying to learn a language, just keep trying to use it.