The first thing I would recommend if you want to study abroad is plan to go with a friend or someone you know. I got extremely lucky in having amazing floormates, but I knew both of my roommates before coming here and it is something that has made my experience a lot more fun and a lot less lonely. I’ve talked to people who have come alone, and traveling alone with people you don’t know well can be mentally straining and made them a lot more depressed about their experience abroad. One of the reasons I am sad to go home is because of the friends I have made. For those who came alone they cannot wait to go home and ended up hating where they stayed abroad because it is a reminder of their loneliness and they get a bad impression of the city.
Another recommendation that will help your study abroad experience would be to plan your Fall Break early, during the summer. Fall break is a long ten days and it ended up being my least expensive trip because I booked so early. For a lot of the other trips it is hard to book earlier because there may be class trips or assignments you need to stay home for, in that case you will have to book later. However, it works out in the end because others you meet along the way may tag along and it makes the trips a lot more interesting and fun. Another thing I would keep in mind depending on how tough your classes are is to not book any trips in the last three weekends of school. Finals can already be stressful, but the added stress of traveling can make the experience worse, and you might not get a full representation of the city you visit because you are too stressed about other things.
I would recommend Florence as a place to study if the person is looking for a historical feel and likes Italian food a lot. My biggest complaint about Florence would be the lack of food options. The amount of museums in Florence is never ending and if you are an art lover, Florence is definitely for you. One thing I regret is not seeing a lot of the smaller cities in Italy. They are the easiest and cheapest trips to make and I wish I would have done more of them because I may not get the chance I’ve had to live in Italy and truly immerse myself in Italian culture, not being just a tourist.
One thing to keep in mind is there are a lot of pickpockets throughout Europe. I would not endorse bringing anything with a lot of personal value or anything too expensive. Be very careful everywhere you travel and try not to go alone to too many places late at night. It is nice to take a few solo trips, but just be extra careful and choose safe cities. In preparing for your study abroad experience I would create a list of definite places you want to go and maybe even look into booking some trips that are easily cancellable if something were to come up. Research is your best friend when studying abroad, and I would not always go for the cheapest option. Sometimes it is worth it to spend a little extra money for your safety and comfort because you will regret it afterwards; like taking multiple ten hour trains.
In florence itself I would advocate for eating out and getting gelato at least once a week. My roommates and I cook almost every night which is a great way to save money and I would also recommend cooking as much as possible. However, I did not get to try as many Italian restaurants as I would have liked. Some of my favorites include Trattoria Zaza for authentic Italian food and cloud 59 for a nice burger if you need a break from the pasta. Some of my favorite gelato places include La Strega and Edoardo for the homemade cone.
One thing I love about NYU Florence is the campus and the community. They hold many events for us and have many trips and activities for students to sign up for to keep the community engaged. I would recommend signing up for as many trips and events as possible. It is a great way to save money, try new things like olive harvesting, and meet new people. I would recommend studying abroad to anyone it is a great experience and extremely fun. I hope my tips were helpful and I hope you have fun with your time abroad, it is something everyone should get the chance to experience.