I couldn’t write this post without looking back to my post from my first semester abroad and seeing how my perspective has changed. The first tip that I gave was “Do not come in with any expectations,” which I completely stand by and and glad that I didn’t set expectations for Florence. I do not mean this to say that I do not think my set expectations would have been met, but rather that it is not possible to even imagine how life abroad is, until you live it. Everything is different- the food, the people, the culture. It is much better to go into it with an open mind to any experience that is to come, rather than building up in your mind what you want it to amount to. Florence ended up to be more amazing that I ever could have imagined. It was a ton easier to be abroad this time than it was when I went to Australia, even though the language and the culture here are more different. I know everyone always raves over the campus at Florence, but I promise that no one is exaggerating. Going to school on this villa feels like a vacation resort. It doesn’t seem real. The place and the people here contributed to making my experience phenomenal, and I am going to be very sad to leave it. I would recommend to everyone that if they are looking for a European study abroad experience to come to Florence. Here are some tips for those who decide to do so:
I HIGHLY recommending living in the city, rather than on campus. The commute is about 15 minutes on the bus, which is really easy. Also all of the apartments are extremely nice. I can see the Duomo from my street (Ricasoli)! It is amazing to have the chance to live right in the heart of Florence. Also, the nightlife scene in Florence is fun, so living in the city makes it way easier to go home.
Florence feels very safe. I know that everyone worries about pick-pocketing, but I never had a problem. As long as you are smart about walking with others late at night and holding your valuables, you will be fine! No one I know had anything stolen. They warn you about being smart, but if you’re coming from New York, then you will be a pro in Florence.
Florence has a charming small town feel. No matter where you go (on campus or in the city center) you will likely run into people you know. It is a fun, tight-knit community that I really recommend working to be a part of. It is so easy to meet people. You live close and see each other on campus. I recommend that people take advantage of that and put themselves out there to meet others. It becomes really fun when you do so.
Travel, but also don’t feel like you have to. It is really easy to go anywhere in Europe from Florence, but do not feel like you always have to leave Italy. Italy has so many places that are super easy to get to on the trains. Definitely take advantage of that!
If you do plan on traveling a lot, though, make sure to check for flights out of Pisa, Bologna, Venice, Rome, and Milan and compare the prices! Because it is really easy to get to all of those airports. Also note that the train to Milan is the most expensive though.
Recommended restaurants: Osteria di Santa Spirito, Osteria 13 Gobbi, 4 Leoni, Mercato Centrale, Il Gatto e La Volpe, Oibo (Aperitivo)
I loved my time here, and I hope anyone looking to go abroad considers Florence. I randomly applied to Florence without knowing anything about it, and after visiting multiple cities in Europe, I really think I made a great decision! Also pizza and pasta for every meal is always a plus!