Alumni Spotlight: Danielle Elmers

Study Abroad at NYU Florence

Give us a little intro

Danielle is a Journalism and Psychology major at NYU, but hails from the magical land of New Jersey. When she isn't eating egg and cheese on an everything bagel or a fresh, greasy piece of pizza, you can find her dancing with Synchronic Dance Team, writing in her notebook, or reading Game of Thrones.

Why did you pick this program?

At NYU, going abroad is emphasized for all students. I chose to go to Florence to connect with my Italian roots, see the Renaissance come to life, learn the beauty of the language, and eat exorbitant amounts of pasta and gelato. This program also offered me the opportunity to take a photojournalism class in one of the most photogenic cities in the world.

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

I say go for it, no " ifs, ands, or buts". Studying abroad allows you to challenge yourself, to get outside your comfort zone, and realize your full potential. Also, learning to travel by yourself, instead of relying on your parents or other, wiser peers, is an important life skill to have. Even if you never travel another day in your life (which I highly doubt would be the case), the ability to calmly navigate the sea of chaos that is foreign airports will only make you stronger.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Be prepared to walk... a lot. Florence is a very walkable city, and when the bus system starts to get on your nerves, walking is the next best option. So pack comfortable shoes, and hit the cobblestone streets. You are bound to come across Instagram worthy street art, so have your camera ready and your filters set.

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

During fall break, I traveled to Geneva, Amsterdam, Paris and London with friends from the program. When we were ready to depart from Amsterdam, we didn't leave on time, and ended up scrambling to the airport, barely making our flight. One of my friends and I had hand luggage, so we ran through security and the airport terminals, legs cramping but determined to make this flight. Unfortunately, we didn't realize that our friend (who had to check his luggage) was not behind us.

We sat down in our seats on the plane, panting and high-fiving each other for making it. We looked around, waiting for our friend to come barreling in behind us. We texted him, urging him to get a move on. He replied letting us know he'd missed the flight, and would be on the next leaving for Paris - at 9pm that night.

Not only was he the only one of us who spoke French, but it was his apartment we would be staying in. So, until he arrived that night, my friend and I lugged our suitcases around Paris, eating croque madames and monsieurs with the looming embarrassment of being "those tourists". We ended up sitting outside the Eiffel Tower for a few hours, simply enjoying the lights, seeing people from our program serendipitously, and laughing about how we ended up like this. After two amazing meals, and several failed attempts the metro system, we eventually found our friend, pretty excited to have turned a disaster into a funny story.

Is the gelato in Italy amazing or overrated?

The gelato in Italy is so fresh and so delicious that I still cry a little bit over the fact that I can't have it anymore. With that being said, when in Florence, picking where to grab gelato is key. If the gelato is in a mountain-like mound and isn't covered, that usually means it isn't fresh, and will be of poor quality. If the gelateria has their selection covered, that is the best quality and I recommend only getting your gelato from there. I mean sure, you will be spoiling yourself but gelato is worth spoiling yourself over!