Growing up, my family always made a point to show my brother and me new things. Every year we took a trip to somewhere new. We rarely duplicate a trip. When I was in 9th grade, I was exploring my future college and learned of study abroad. I new right then and there I would do a semester abroad once I was in college, the question was where would I go.
Why did you choose Florence University of the Arts?
I am a hospitality management student, so when I went for information I looked for specific programs for my degree. The SAI program in Florence, Italy was perfect for me. Especially since I have always wanted to travel to Italy.
What was your favorite part about Italy?
My favorite part about Italy is the amazing cuisine. Growing up, I always said I wanted to eat my way from the top of the boot to the bottom. I almost did that, southern Italy is still calling my name!
What made your experience abroad unique?
The friends and experiences I gained while abroad would have to be what made my experience abroad so unique.
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
The SAI local staff was great. They sent out weekly emails, held various events, and were always available in the office.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
I don't regret traveling outside of Italy, but I wish I had focused more on the country I was in instead of going everywhere else.
Describe a typical day in the life of your program.
I usually had an early morning or mid-day class, so I would usually start with a little cafe. I would always get a cappuccino and croissant for breakfast every morning. Then I would attend my class, and either grab a sandwich around town or eat at home. I loved the days I was able to sit out beside the Arno river during the afternoon. Nights were usually spent eating dinner out. Occasionally we would cook in, testing our Italian cooking skills.
What did you enjoy doing in your free time?
I enjoyed exploring the city, shopping, and eating all the gelato I could find! I never met a gelato I didn't like!
What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?
Our accommodation was great. It was newly renovated, and located right on the Arno river. The best thing about it was the location. It was a 10 minute walk to the duomo or train station.
What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?
Don't be afraid to discover the city alone, go to the early morning markets, and eat all the gelato you want!
What was the hardest part about studying abroad?
The most difficult part would be being away from my family for four months. I am very close with them, and being apart for that long is hard. However, we facetimed often, and they even made a trip over to see me.
What surprised you most about Florence?
Florence was big but small. I don’t usually get lost, but the streets are small and winding, making it very easy to get turned around. I was surprised at how many times I did get turned around.
How difficult was it to communicate with locals?
Many of the locals speak English, so it wasn’t too bad. However, it didn’t hurt I had a roommate that spoke Italian!
What is one thing you wish you would have known before studying abroad in Italy?
I wish I had known to stay in Florence on the weekends more. Don’t get me wrong, traveling all over Europe was great, but I wished I had spent more time in my host city.
If you could study abroad again, where would you go?
I would probably study in London, England if I had this opportunity again. It is one of my favorite cities I have traveled to, and I would love to get to experience it longer than a week.
What do you feel the biggest benefit of studying abroad is?
When you study abroad, you learn so much about yourself. You gain so much knowledge and respect for other cultures as well. All those things you can only gain from studying abroad.
Do you have any packing tips for individuals headed to Florence?
Less is more! I overpacked way too much, and then I bought more stuff while there. I had to bring home one too many suitcases, and that can get expensive.
Now that you're home, how has your program abroad impacted your life?
Studying abroad has made a huge impact on my life. I gained even more confidence and independence. I can't wait to travel even more.
Would you recommend Study Abroad Italy to others? Why?
Yes, SAI does a great job of preparing you before you leave, and while you are there. If I ever had a question or problem, someone was always there to help me. Not only that but it is a great program and a great school. I would definitely do it again.
Anne Carney is from the town of Monticello in Mississippi. She is currently a senior at Ole Miss (University of Mississippi) pursuing a degree in Hospitality Management. Anne loves to travel, even if it is a weekend trip to a nearby town.