All About My Study Abroad Experience in Florence, Italy
I graduated from college in the Spring of 2017 and it is crazy to me how it’s been almost 2 years since then. My senior year of college was definitely one of my favorites and a big part of that is because I got to study abroad. The destination that I chose was Florence, Italy and I am super glad that I did. Keep reading to learn all about my study abroad experience in Florence!
How I Chose to Study Abroad
When I was first looking at schools to study at, I had promised my mom that I would at least look into the study abroad opportunities available to me. I finally had something click in my brain to actually explore my options during the start of my senior year. I still remember the moment to this day when I was looking at the different possibilities and programs. Most study abroad programs are for a semester and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to go away for that long. Eventually, I found out that there was a “Minimester” option available during my winter break. My winter breaks were about 1 ½ -2 months long each year depending on exams – which to me was the perfect amount of time to go abroad!
I decided on Europe and I had never been to Italy so it was one of the most enticing places on the list for Minimester. I ended up having to choose between either Rome or Florence and it was a super tough decision. After much research and debate, I ended up choosing Florence because it was a lot smaller than Rome which meant it would be easier to get around (especially in one month’s time) and the school appealed to me more.
The school in Florence was Lorenzo de’ Medici (LdM) which is an international university. Since it was my senior year of college, I didn’t want to pick a class that would be too hard or takes up a lot of my time while I was abroad because that would mean that I wouldn’t have a lot of time to explore. I also didn’t have a need for any credits to graduate so I was a free bird when it came to picking a course! I went with “Pairing Food and Wine” which meant I would get to cook, eat, and drink wine in class every day. PERFECT!
My First Thoughts About Florence
It was January (hence Winter break) so it was still cold, but that wasn’t something I was too upset about. In fact, it made Florence that much better. I arrived in Florence, Italy on January 2ndso there was still a bunch of Christmas decorations up in the streets. After check-in, I headed to the apartment that was assigned to me with 3 other roommates and the location was AMAZING. It was right behind the Duomo (Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore) and I had a perfect view of it from the apartment’s living room window!
I ended up meeting a couple of people from my university and my roommates were really cool, too which made my study abroad experience so much better! Aside from going to class every day, cooking amazing food and drinking wine – I spent most of my days and night exploring the city.
Getting Around the City
It was really easy to get the hang of where everything was in Florence because it really is a small city. If I ever got lost, I would just ask where the Duomo was which was a guide for me as to how to get everywhere! It even helped my friends and I get home a couple of nights.
Even though Florence is a small city, there is so much beauty, history, and culture to see. It is mainly a tourist city so the center is usually packed, but the benefit of going in the winter is that there aren’t as many crowds like there would be in the summer. Also, I learned that the other side of Pointe Vecchio is where many of the locals live, grocery stores tend to be cheaper, and there are a lot of restaurants there that are amazing (and not usually packed). In most places, you will actually find the price of wine to be cheaper than water!
Everything Was Close By
My class was located in the Central Market (Mercato Centrale) which is a two-level building with food everywhere. The bottom level is mainly meats, cheeses, wine, vegetables, spices, nuts, and all kinds of fresh groceries that you can think of. The top floor is a bunch of restaurants and eating areas – along with my classroom (a kitchen).
It was located in a pretty central area of Florence and right out front of the main entrance is the famous Leather Market where you can find real leather goods – from purses to belts, wallets, jackets, and more. I actually ended up buying a leather jacket and fur vest from here! If you are looking at shopping here, remember that bargaining is key. The prices will be overpriced especially for tourists, but as soon as you seem puzzled about it they will be inclined to make a deal with you. I scored a really good deal on both my jacket and vest, especially since I bought from the same guy!
To Be Continued…
My study abroad experience was a month long and there is so much to share for such a short time! I’m going to cut things off here for now and share the rest with you all later this week in Part 2! Stay tuned and let me know what you think about my experience so far! Have you studied abroad before? Let me know in the comments!