I’m not going to pretend that I absolutely fell in love with Florence in the last four-ish months I’ve been here. I haven’t exactly even liked it, however, I think there is something about Florence that works for a lot of students who come here. First, it’s one of the most historical cities I’ve ever been in, let alone lived in. I mean, the Renaissance happened here; I walk down streets that the Medici walked along as did many renowned artists, such as Michelangelo and da Vinci. Long story short, Florence is really good at preserving that Renaissance feeling. I love to joke that Florence hasn’t changed since the Renaissance (okay, not exactly joke, but state) and for me, I just can’t seem to get myself to want a life like that. Maybe it’s because New York City has already taken my heart and will only give it up in a violent fight till the death, but Florence has definitely not been the city for me (if you can even consider it a city). Secondly, it does have a very social aspect, if (keyword if), you want to party with Americans and live out your “college rager” days that New York doesn’t really offer us, compared to state schools. In that respect, it’s a ton of fun. There are a dozen clubs and bars that are made for American students–one even has special shots for each university (it’s just not really my jam). And thirdly, NYU’s campus is pretty awesome fantastic, beautiful, amazing, breathtaking, etc.
Would I recommend it to other people? I definitely would. I have a couple friends here that are in love with Florence. You definitely have to enjoy a slower pace of life and be able to adjust to a lot of things that you might be used to living with at home. Choices for living: definitely live off campus. I haven’t actually talked to anyone in a homestead, but the hike to campus is definitely not worth it. You can’t choose where you live, but I wouldn’t exactly suggest where I’m living (Borgo Pinti 66). Via del Corso is really nice!
Things I wish I knew before I came? Well, this might sound unreasonable/spoiled, but I felt like I didn’t find everything I wanted to at the stores here when I came. Maybe it’s because I’m picky, but I feel like the selection of products here are a lot different than the ones at home in America (ladies–bring your own tampons!!! I had to have my friend visiting from home bring me some because I could barely find some normal ones) Also- they don’t really sell nail clippers in Florence (I mean, I’m sure you can find some) but honestly, nail salons didn’t even use them, so I don’t know what that’s about). You won’t find many American type food places here (except shitty ones like, The Diner) but FOR SURE go to Le Vespe. They have iced coffees and chais and matcha and well, once you’ve been here long enough, Le Vespe seems like an angel in the crowd.
Wow, okay, here we go. I LOVE Italian food. Don’t get me wrong. I mean, it’s 99% carbs so how could someone not love it. But then again, it’s like 99% carbs. I swear the first month I was here, I became so lethargic from only eating carbs I thought I had mono. Me and my friends now try to shy away from Italian (my friends are also mostly vegetarians and vegans) and have opted for healthy restaurants and Asian. I can’t really recommend to you much Italian (although Osteria Santo Spirito’s truffle pasta is A MUST) but I can list some great healthy places! #RAW is across the river and is fantastic for a healthy quick bite and a juice. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been to Quinoa, but it’s amazing. Get the tofu stir fry, you won’t regret it. La Raccolta- also a fan favorite. It has great lunch and dinner and the portions are large. Similar is BRAC, although they are always booked, so make sure to call at least a day in advance. Asian wise, we really like a place called, Miss Song. It’s got a large range of Asian food and although it’s not the best, it’s pretty damn good for Florence. Koto Ramen is also a solid place if you’re feeling ramen.
Places to go
The other thing that I did enjoy about Florence was how easy and how vast Italy is. It reminds me of California in the respect that there are lakes, mountain ranges, beaches, small towns, cities all in one place. I honestly think traveling in Italy should be a huge priority because there is so much to see and I feel like I’ve tried to do that and still haven’t seen everything I wanted too. Amalfi and Cinque Terre are both a must for coastal cities and then Milan and Rome for large cities. I also really loved Verona!
I think the most important thing I learned while studying abroad is that it’s okay to not have the same experience that people before you did and that it’s okay to not love where you study abroad. You can always around and I think once I started sharing my feelings, most of my friends actually felt the same way, which was nice. Also- enjoy the friends you make here. For me, this entire thing was damn worth it for them.