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AIFS Study Abroad in Florence: Semester or Year
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AIFS Study Abroad in Florence: Semester or Year

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health & Safety

    8

  • Community

    6

An adventure to never ever foreget

Studying abroad through AIFS in Florence, Italy was the best decision I have ever made in college. It was such a unique experience that changed by outlook on how to view life and by in turn live it. I was able to really step back from the fast pace culture here in the United States to really learn about myself and who I am. AIFS was so great in accommodations, logistics, linking me to past alumni, and making the process of applying and preparing (which is a stressful one) less stressful. They were great with communication and helped enhance my experience. I would recommend this program to anyone that is considering studying abroad. Everyone I have talked has not regretted studying abroad through this program one bit!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

The best decision of my life!

Studying abroad in Florence the Spring semester of my Junior year was the best decision I could have made. This kind of experience is truly life-changing as cliche as that sounds. The opportunities you are offered are incredible. With the help of Simona (the volunteer/internship coordinator), I volunteered at Santa Maria del Fiore and it was incredible!! I gave tours to locals and tourists every Wednesday in the famous cathedral. In preparation, I memorized a 20 page packet of history and then gave free tours. I learned from the locals that have been volunteering for years. I definitely would have regretted not volunteering and I am so glad I made the choice to step out of my comfort zone and do it.

The other major seller for this program is the out-of-this-world meal plan. We ate at authentic Florentine restaurants all of the time with our tickets and spent almost nothing on food besides what we paid at the beginning of the semester for the meal plans. If you decide you don't want to eat out, you can also exchange your tickets for "gift cards" to the local grocers and cook at your apartment. You also got to attend cooking classes/baking classes and eat what you made at the end of the lesson which were offered often. It's a win-win-win! I truly immersed myself in the culture of dining because of the meal plan. If I went abroad again, I wouldn't go without one like this. It was that incredible!

Lastly, you meet people from all over the US and get to interact with locals. I truly felt like I was apart of the city while I was there and truly cannot rave enough about how great this program is. The staff of your program on the ground is so integral and their staff at Richmond was so caring and committed themselves to giving us the best experience possible. If you want to study in Florence, it doesn't get better than this!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    8

I took a leap of faith and it was my best decision yet

My study abroad expectations were already pretty high because everyone that previously had studied abroad all said "wow, it was the best decision of my life, you have to study abroad." And all I can say is STUDYING ABROAD IS THE BEST DECISION I MADE WHILE IN COLLEGE. I studied in the beautiful, homey town of Florence, Italy that isn't so big that it's overwhelming, but it isn't so small that you feel like you've seen the whole city in a day. Florence has a beautiful charm to it that makes it feel like home as soon as you get there. I studied with AIFS, and this was the best decision I made simply because of its meal plan. Unlike any other student I met, we had a meal plan that allowed everyone to go to about 25 restaurants in the city of Florence and use meal cards to either spend a certain amount of money at a restaurant or have variable options for 2 course meals. And the food is delicious -- out of this world. My apartment was a beautiful Italian apartment right on the Arno river and I lived with 9 other girls: a little crazy but I couldn't imagine anything else. One of my favorite classes I took while abroad was my art history course because one day of the week, we were in the classroom learning about various art work and then the other day of the week, we went to a museum, church, etc. to view the art. AIFS surpassed my expectations in every way -- having social nights with italians, cooking and pastry lessons, included trips to Venice, Siena, wine tasting, etc. and so much more! All I have to say is if you are thinking about studying abroad, go for it! Get a bit out of your comfort zone, you won't regret it!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    9

When Can I Go Back?!

I had known I wanted to study abroad since high school, but I wasn't aware of many programs that could lead me to Florence. After researching programs outside of my university (which didn't off a program in Florence) I landed on AIFS because it seemed to offer the most for the least cost.

AIFS included many excursions and events that were covered by the program cost. We spent a weekend in London and 5 days in Rome for orientation. During the middle of the program, we had the opportunity to participate in a weekend trip to Venice. There were also many day trips to cities such as Siena, San Gimignano, Lucca and Pisa. There were activities available such as wine tastings, cooking and pastry classes, soccer games and more that the students could participate in.

One of the aspects of AIFS that impressed me the most was the meal plan. The Florence program included both breakfast and dinner meal tickets that could be used for meals at various restaurants throughout the city. Reading about the plan before my trip I was thinking "the restaurants will probably be okay, but they'll probably be more for students or tourists" but I was pleasantly surprised. Most of the restaurants were incredibly delicious and enjoyed by locals as well. I rarely had a meal that I didn't want to rewind and enjoy again.

I lived with a host mom who was incredibly sweet. The program gave the option of living with American students in our program in apartments or living with a host family. I had a roommate from my program as well and we shared a room in the apartment of an older Italian woman named Vittoria. She had two adult children living in Florence and one had children of his own so we got to visit with her family sometimes as well. Two of her grandchildren helped us work on our Italian as they were learning English in school and could speak very well already at the ages of six and eight. Her children were both fluent which was helpful as Vittoria only knew a handful of English words. Vittoria would make us home-cooked meals about twice a month and was a very useful resource for any questions we had about the city!

It's difficult for me to put into words how wonderful my experience in Florence was. I want to highlight how wonderful all of the staff of AIFS was both overseas and back in the states. They were all polite, kind and helpful in every aspect. The staff made my preparation for studying abroad easier by including the flight package, helping me fill out and send in a VISA application and answering any questions I had. Once abroad, the staff was very energetic and kind. They provided many opportunities for the students to meet each other and local students.

Overall, I am ecstatic and grateful that I chose AIFS as my study abroad program for Florence. I would do it again in a heartbeat and I cannot wait to return to the beautiful city.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Come perfetto

This spring semester I took the opportunity to experience a different perspective of Europe in a place where I have always wanted to live. The last two summers I have been fortunate enough to be able to compete in the European skateboarding competition circuit. Therefore, that is how I familiarized Europe by, the extremely inviting skate family that showed no discrimination towards things like age gender and race. This is where I experienced my first taste of how hospitable others can be if you share a universal commonality. For me, that commonality or shared love is skateboarding. As long as you have a passion for something, you have a chance to make new friends all over the world for life. Studying abroad in Firenze Italy enabled me to capitalize on this way of thinking in addition to helping me better discover myself and what I would like to do in the future.
As an international business major, I strived to one-day look towards a career becoming an importing and exporting agent abroad. This meant I would have to become fluent in Italian and one semester in Firenze became my new challenge to do so. I spent four months living with an Italian host family where I felt like part of the family instantly. The three kids, Ginevra, Virginia and Pietro always patiently helped refine my Italian outside of class but more importantly they showed me what it was truly like to have younger siblings. It was literally perfect, my host mother was a designer of a luxury brand in Italy called AC’M. There were art desks located everywhere perfect for random inspiration I would get along with a beautiful town home in Florence straight out of a home décor magazine. The city of Firenze itself taught me much about art, specifically new and innovative art mediums used in my Painting in Florence III class. I was able to complete my first oil painting and how to create egg tempra paint made from scratch. Whenever I needed inspiration, I used the cities multitude of famous museums free for students to study works, stroke techniques and to seek inspiration whenever I needed it. My favorite days were those spent painting Florence’s oldest bridge the Ponte Vecchio from the private rowing club patio. At the end of the semester the school held an art exhibit for the students art work highlighting our hard work.

Institution Affiliates:

World Youth Student & Educational Travel Confederation