I loved my time abroad in Florence. As someone with italian heritage, I fell in love with the culture, lifestyle, and language in Italy in a more tangible way living and studying there. My Nonno encouraged me to study in Florence, specifically, because they have incredible programs encouraging artistry and education, and the views, history and architecture surrounding you in the city are simply incredible.
Florence is more like a small town, than a big city. It feels like you're in a place you know and love, and you get to experience the everyday lifestyle of a Florentine as you stroll the streets, eat pasta, (and other regional dishes like bistecca fiorentina, lampredotto, tartufo, etc) drink one euro cappuccinos, connect with the locals, and visit the markets. It genuinely felt like a dream almost everyday.
I always felt safe walking alone to and from my apartment near Ponte Vecchio, and appreciated the easy access, and consistent business of the city around me as I ventured out on my own.
I was quick to make friends, and my only encouragement would be to branch outside of the American friends you will automatically create in your program! I connected with a friend and her friends, who were locals from Florence at a nearby restaurant, and continued to meet European students that I wouldn't otherwise have met if not for living in Italy at the same time. I opted for the Italian Language program that ISA offered, and they partnered me with an Italian student to work on my language skills and offer assistance in English as we learned together.
Florence hold a deeply special place in my heart, and I still have friends and owners in the city who I stay in contact with. I loved it so much so that I am considering going back to the University I studied at through ISA to get my masters in Visual Media!
If you're hesitating, go live 'la dolce vita'; I promise you will only grow and experience the beauty of a lifestyle entirely different than your own, and consistently find yourself beaming with the joy of living abroad and all the adventures ahead of you.
What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Ah, lampredotto. I was extremely hesitant to try, only because I had a good idea of what it would taste like from previous meals I had eaten, but it's almost like you never had the true experience if you don't try it. It's basically cow intestine, but a "panino", so a sandwich with meat, sauce and bread. Don't be afraid, just at least give it a go to understand some of the poor food styles that still linger throughout the culture of the city today.