In September of 2013, I landed in Florence and did a full academic year at Accademia Italiana. Being a fashion major, this was an amazing fit for me personally but I was also able to connect with students from a diverse range of concentrations, including graphic design, interior design, and art history. I never realized how fully I had immersed into my life in Italy until a comment from my wonderful Pattern Drafting professor caught my attention. She responded to a request for me to move my seat by saying: "But she always sits there!" Having been there only one semester, I was already a fixture in university life and always found the staff welcoming and helpful.
In addition to their great art and design courses, Accademia Italiana offers Italian language courses to all of its students. I've studied Italian since high school and this was an amazing chance for me to practice
my skills and really dive into learning conversational Italian. Though my speech still isn't perfect, after spending a year in Florence I can understand almost everything I hear, which is a huge improvement from how I was when I landed. Accademia also offers separate weekend trips that are free for students and go to different cities including Rome, Sorrento, Siena, and more; independent travel is also extremely easy to organize.
Summing up an entire year of living in Florence is incredibly hard to do. All in all, Arcadia and Accademia Italiana gave me the opportunity to really establish a life abroad. I was not simply a student going overseas to party and mingle only with other American students, I became a resident in Florence and learned more about the city and its culture than I ever expected and made lasting friendships that are still going strong almost another year later.