Elizabeth Hanacik

Elizabeth Hanacik is from Texas and currently studies neuroscience at the University of Texas at Dallas. She spent four weeks in Florence, Italy learning about modern Italian history, and in the process she fell in love with all things Italian: the food, the wine, the art, and the lifestyle.

Highlights: I think the highlight of my trip was the day trip to Sienna that was offered by the program. Sienna is a lovely medieval town. Thus, it contrasts really nicely with Florence, which is more of a Renaissance city. Everything about Sienna was charming, from the town square in the shape of a sea shell, to the beautiful cathedral and other churches. The streets are small and narrow, and they are lined with small shops and mom-and-pop-type family run restaurants. It has a small-town feel, compared to the big city of Florence, and is a nice place to just walk around, have a gelato, and get lost for an afternoon. Best of all, it’s very easy to just hop on a train to Sienna from Florence at any time. It was definitely one of my favorite places in Italy.

I think what made this study abroad experience unique was the flexibility and freedom that I had. I had to go to class for a couple of hours four days a week, but other than that I was really free to spend my time however I wanted. If I decided to hop on a train one day and go somewhere, I could. The program provided enough structure that I didn’t feel lost or uncertain, but not so much structure that I felt like everything had been planned for me. The possibilities in Italy are endless, so having the freedom to explore them was wonderful.

A photo taken by Elizabeth during her time abroad in Italy!

Morning: Usually in the morning I woke up around 9:00 am, took a shower, and caught up on emails with my family and friends back home. After some breakfast I often went for a walk. Some days, I went to visit one of Florence's countless museums. Other days, I walked up the hill to Piazzale Michelangelo to take in the beautiful views of the city. However, there were also some days when I just walked the streets to do some window shopping and people watching.

Afternoon: In the afternoons I had class for a couple of hours at Santa Reparata International School of Art. The class was a Modern Italian History course, so it usually consisted of a lecture. However, on some days my professor took us to a museum instead of lecturing, and on a couple of occasions we watched relevant Italian movies. These things kept the class interesting and I really enjoyed it over the course of the four weeks.

Evening: In the evening I often went to the grocery store to buy things for dinner. The Italian way is to buy groceries every day, so that the food is always as fresh as possible. I usually ate dinner at the apartment to save money, but sometimes my roommate and I would go out to one of Florence’s many, many restaurants, where the food is always good. At the end of the evening I usually read for a little while before taking a shower to cool off (most Italian apartments do not have A/C, and during the summer it can be hard to fall asleep at night because of the heat).