Why did you choose this program? Florence is one of the most romantic cities in the world. The weather is warm, the pizza is great, and the people are open. I was curious about the city's art, Renaissance history and architectures.
Describe your favorite class(es) abroad. I liked both the drawing and art history classes. There is no such "classroom" in drawing class. Every corner, every street is my inspiration. We walk, sit, and climb. My favorite place is the Boboli Gardens. The roses and fresh air are something you'd never feel in big cities! I also enjoyed seeing famous paintings and art works (e.g. David sculpture). It's different to see than listening to lectures!
What was the housing like on your study abroad program? We lived in Hotel Villani, just few steps from the Duomo. I shared a room with two other art students. The room is small and old, but you will love the view from your windows!
What advice would you like to give to future study abroad students? Don't just think about it, start planning and apply if you have time. Try to go to as many places while abroad, or you might be regret it in the future! Talk to professors and assistants, and don't hesitate to make friends either!
What’s your best memory from your time abroad? My best memory was the time I spent with other girls. We had our first gelato near Ponte Vecchio; we got lost in the streets, and were amazed by the city's night view on Piazza Michelangelo.
What was your biggest surprise about the location, culture or other aspects of your program? Many Italians are impatient, especially in the restaurants (and the taxi drivers are crazy!). There are many street vendors: some would approach tourists in "aggressive way".
Describe your experience with culture shock or reverse culture shock. My culture shock was mostly about people. For example, Italians spend longer time dinning than Americans; drivers never let people cross the street; they are interested in Americans' blonde hair and blue eyes.
“If I could do it over, I would…” spend more time exploring the city, and get leather goods from the market!
What do you know now that you didn’t know before you went abroad? Not everything meets our expectation, but we have to get used to it. We need to make sure that we have coins (to pay for public restrooms). Adapters are extremely useful in foreign countries!
What do you wish someone had told you before you left? I wish they could tell me what souvenirs I must buy (or where to get) beforehand.
What was your greatest challenge? Looking for cheap food that is suitable for us; trying to find ways back to hotel; and speaking English to Italians who don't understand English.
Discuss: “Going abroad vs. staying on campus.” Going abroad is more valuable because we "see" the pictures in person. When studying abroad, we interact directly with local culture and people; when staying on campus, we focus mostly on school works. Going abroad teaches us how to appreciate what you have and what others don't; we learn about personal characters, not just school spirits on campus. More importantly, resources abroad are much richer than textbooks. These resources can be art, music, food, and history of that city.