What to Know About Study Abroad in Florence

May 17th, 2018toDecember 17th, 2019

by Ellie Rosa (Stanford University)

A city known for its study abroad programs. At every corner there are students enjoying the museums, walkways, and gelato. Florence is a dream for any student looking to escape their college campus and discover a new part of the world. Being a student in Florence is one of the most exhilarating aspects of my university experience. I adore the ease with which I can visit priceless works of art, stroll through the Tuscan hills just outside the city, and travel to international and national locations on the weekends. If you are looking to study abroad in Florence, here are a few things you should know about this incredible city.

Language

Students arriving in Florence are often dedicated and committed to learning Italian fluently by the end of their stay. This commitment, however, does not always last. Students quickly realize that people in Florence almost all speak English on a level that is approachable and allows for easy communication. As convenient as this is for the new arrivals, it does mean that to truly learn Italian it is necessary to commit yourself more fully to the learning process. A conscious effort to speak and learn this language of love. It is absolutely possible to learn Italian, it simply takes dedication. Do not let any opportunity to speak Italian slip away from you and you will be fluent before you know it!

Travel

Traveling internationally and around Italy itself is quite simple from Florence. It is easy to book flights from either the Florence airport, Pisa airport, or if necessary even the Rome airport, and train rides abound from the Firenze Santa Maria-Novella station. Going abroad is wonderful, but I would advise not to go abroad every weekend, there is so much to appreciate in Florence itself! Many study abroad students I have spoken to regret their decisions to travel too extensively because they feel that they have not been able to absorb as much of Florence as they would have liked to. This does not mean you should avoid travel completely, rather just be sure that you leave the time to enjoy the bounty of experiences at your fingertips in Florence.

Culture

Adjusting to Italian culture will be a challenge and a thrill. From learning to eat dinner at a later time, to discovering that a coffee in Italy is the synonymous to espresso, as a new student in Florence you will adapt. There are parts of Italian culture that are difficult to accept that will play a role in your integration into Florentine society as well. For example, you will quickly realize that cars are far less likely to pause for you to cross the street, and, for women, cat-calling may become a more common part of daily life. The differences in society, however, will not hold you back. In fact, excluding the wild driving and the cat-calling of course, some cultural differences you may even want to take home with you.

Overall your time abroad will be what you make of it. There is so much opportunity in Florence for self-discovery and growth. Studying abroad is a ride through the world of international life, schooling, new people, languages, and everything in between. It will open your world and mind to new ideas, jump-start creativity, and give you many opportunities for new-found joys.

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