Alumni Spotlight: Ashley Day


Ashley fell in love with travel between volunteering in Honduras and studying abroad in Florence. She grew up in Orlando, attended college in Nashville, and is now a travel writer and editor in New York City contributing to Rand McNally, The Daily Meal, and Men's Fitness.

Ashley Day grew up in Orlando, FL, studied journalism at Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN, and is now a travel writer and editor in New York, NY. She loves trying new things, immersing herself in local cultures when traveling, and finding each destination's distinct claims to fame. She's determined to explore whether in small town America or abroad.

I'd have a really hard time choosing one highlight, but I think the overall experience of connecting with locals and the process of Florence transitioning from a scary, unknown, foreign place to a home I'll always have a piece of is what the trip was all about. We developed relationships with the other students as much as with the locals we saw everyday--the cafe for example was all "regulars," every meal; that's why we stuck out. When locals got past the typical questions we asked and very American mistakes we made and took the time to share their favorite parts of Florence with us, those were the best experiences. I think as a college student this was such a growing and maturing time, exploring on our own and actually enjoying learning so much was a major milestone for everyone.


We were fortunate enough to live across the street from a local cafe whose staff completely took us under their wings. Every morning I had an Italian pastry and cappuccino there, shared stories from the adventures of each evening with other students, then walked to class with anyone in the program going to the same building. We took a different route every morning mostly because we were lost, but also because we wanted to see the entire city that became our home. Florence comes alive in the mornings and every walk was an adventure in itself. My morning class was art history from 8-11 am and we frequently went on field trips as soon as we arrived. Seeing the learning material up close and personal in the setting of our lessons was an invaluable advantage in this course.


When your morning class is 8-11 and your afternoon class is 4-7, you have the whole afternoon to explore the city, finish homework, enjoy a nice lunch, exercise, nap and still have spare time. I wouldn't suggest trying all those in one afternoon, but it was really nice to have that time in the middle of the day to work with. My roommates and I typically met for lunch, did laundry or cleaned, walked around Florence and/or met up with people. The walk to my second class could take me through the indoor or outdoor markets and I usually went a little early with classmates to browse these and have time to wander. Then I went to "History of the Mafia" which was undoubtedly the most fun course I experience in college. Not only did we divide into families and actually play mafia with water guns, we learned so much about Italian history which developed into such an appreciation for our host country.


In the evenings almost everyone in our program would meet at the cafe by us for a few drinks before heading out on the town. We had such a diverse group from all over the country and to this day we're all friends even from afar. The cafe even threw a going away party for us at the end. On any given night we could watch a soccer game on a big screen in a piazza, bar hop around town, attend a concert, or hang out in a park. I think everyone's favorite part was stopping by "the secret bakery" on the way home each night, where you could get a fresh mini pizza at the back door for about a dollar. We also had a dinner or two sponsored by API, which were in really trendy venues and always a lot of fun. We had a blast with our staff, they were so accommodating and knowledgeable.