Studying abroad in Florence has definitely been one of the best periods of my life. I experience preemptive nostalgia every day when I remember that I will be moving out of my apartment and saying arrivederci to the city that I have learned to call my home, through all the ups and downs, for the past few months. And even now, in the remaining few days, even with finals looming ahead, I’m determined to make the most of it and am excited for what is to come.
I would recommend studying abroad in Florence to anyone. It has truly surpassed my expectations and I know the time abroad would enrich any individual in different ways because it is so much about personal development; everyone’s experience is unique.
There are, though, some general tips that I would pass on to whomever I knew was going to travel to Florence for the semester.
First of all, I would be careful with time allotment because the moments are limited. There have been weekends where I traveled when, looking back, I maybe did not really have to or have wanted to. Mainly, the cities I visited were with friends who don’t go to Europe very often and, thus, used this semester to see as much of Europe as possible. So, even for me, jumping from city to city every weekend has turned the semester into a mini-Europe tour with days in Florence interspersed. Looking up cheap flights for the next destination as soon as we would return from one trip turned into the norm. For this weekend’s trip to Croatia, I still had my bag packed from last weekend in Budapest! Because I was always so torn between staying in Florence versus joining the trip that was already planned, I joined trips the day of a lot (a total of three times)— both because I always have fear of missing out, and I would say around 90% of the destinations were places I would not visit on my own time if I were traveling through Europe. I suggest to look within yourself in order to prioritize what you want the semester to be like in terms of traveling. Because I had no classes on Tuesdays and Fridays, I definitely did use the time to explore Florence to my advantage and don’t feel like I should have seen more (except maybe the Uffizi and the David..) , but my twin, for example, had class until late every single week day and traveled on the weekends, which is why I can understand some regret of not delving into Florence as much as she maybe could have. The feeling of leaving so shockingly soon makes me grateful for all the days I have spent exploring Florence, but all in all, I don’t regret any of the travel decisions I made. The choice is definitely personal though.
Another tip I would give prospective study abroad students is to pack lightly. Moving out seems daunting because my baggage was already overweight when I came here and I purchased a few new items, even though I barely did any shopping. You can mostly get anything you need in Florence and you will feel at home quicker than you think, so just bring the bare essentials!
Last, but not least — back to the point of prioritizing how you will want to allot your time — choose your work load wisely. I admittedly have less academic work than I was expecting; my priority for the semester has mainly become learning Italian as best as possible because I’m very into learning new languages. My other classes are really interesting and enriching, but I’m glad they aren’t more work than they are because constantly being stuck in the library like I would be in New York would have drastically altered my experience in Florence. I have friends who enjoy rigorous academics here because it makes them feel more purposeful, but again, it’s personal; I really needed the breather because I put an immense amount of unnecessary stress on myself last semester. I’m starting to feel academic stress because of finals, but I’m much more optimistic about it than I expected!