I knew as I started college that study abroad was an opportunity that many colleges offered, and it had sparked an interest for me from the beginning. Once I learned about all these great programs, I realized it was an opportunity that I did not want to miss out on. I wanted to do something different and make my college experience one I will never forget. Therefore, I knew that studying abroad would give me this amazing experience to meet new people, fall in love with many places, and really grow as a person.
What program did you use? Why did you choose your program?
My program was provided directly through my school. I studied abroad in Florence, Italy at a school called Lorenzo De' Medici. I had always wanted to go to Italy and fortunately the program offered a lot of classes for my major which made my decision ten times easier.
What surprised you most about living in Florence? What did you like most about the city?
The thing that surprised me most about Florence is how big the city was, but yet how small it felt. I knew I wasn’t going to be in a vast city like Rome, but I did not think it would feel like home. As soon as I got there, everything felt so new and big and shocking, but as time moved on, I felt like I was part of the city and it felt like my home. I loved that the city offered so much. You had the culture, the food, the sights, and there was always something to do. Everything was so close and in walkable distance. It truly sucked you in and made you feel welcomed.
What makes the Lorenzo De’ Medici program so interesting?
I chose Italy because I really wanted to travel, and a lot of the places that were on my bucket list were in Italy or in Europe in general. Florence was big enough but small at the same time, which I knew would be a comfort to me. A big city would be too overwhelming and a small one would not be enough for my taste.
All the classes were in English which I really liked, because some programs require you to have taken at least a year of a language, limiting you from options of places you can go. Therefore, Florence seemed like the perfect choice and of course the food was a big factor because who can pass up pizza and gelato!
What is the best thing about your program that future participants need to know?
Italy is one of the most historic and truly remarkable countries I have ever been to. Florence was absolutely incredible because it offered so much. It is a beautiful city filled with art, culture, and great food. I loved being able to look out my window and see beautiful scenery. Also, being able to walk by some iconic landmarks in order to get to my classes was definitely a bonus.
Studying in Florence will give you the opportunity to really experience Italian culture while still feeling comfortable and safe. Everyone was very friendly and almost everyone knew English, which helped make living in Florence a lot easier. The classes were great and the teachers really love what they do which makes it easier to learn. Again, big emphasis on the food because there is nothing quite like smelling a fresh and delicious food anywhere you go. Prepare to work out a ton or if you are like me just accept the fact that you will come back with a little extra weight.
What’s one thing you would have done differently?
If I got the opportunity to do this all over again, the only thing I would have done more of is venture out to the less touristy areas to get more of an authentic experience. Although, I did roam the city plenty of times, I could have taken more of a risk and thrown myself out there a little more to fully experience Florence.
Also, although it is really fun to visit other cities and countries, don’t wait till the end to explore everything your city has to offer. I found myself discovering some awesome things towards the end of my trip, and had I put myself out there more, i would have been able to enjoy it sooner.
Now that you’re home, how has study abroad impacted your life?
Studying abroad has changed my life. You will probably hear that from many people that studied abroad but it is an indescribable experience. It is one that needs to be lived because words cannot truly explain the incredible adventure I was on. I could talk about what I did and what I saw, but none of that will replace the thrill of living in an unfamiliar city and living this dream-like life for a semester. To this day I still cannot believe what I saw, where I have been, and what I experienced. It has opened up my eyes to a different kind of life and it had made me more open to things.
I feel like I gained and learned so much from this experience and I would not trade it for the world. It has taught me to venture out more and to truly immerse myself in travel.
Originally from Croatia, Andrea now lives in the Unites States. She has always had a passion for travel and seeing the world. In her spare time she loves to explore, take pictures, and blog about those adventures. While in school, she studied mass media and business administration. She has travelled to many cities throughout Italy, and made her way to Paris. In addition, she visited family in Bosnia and Croatia while studying abroad.