SAI Programs: Study Abroad at FUA in Florence, Italy

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About

Florence University of the Arts (FUA) offers an extensive catalog of courses, including classes in the liberal and fine arts. Students are encouraged to engage with the local community and to immerse themselves in Italian culture through a variety of activities and excursions.

The city of Florence has amazed visitors since Roman times, providing students of arts, literature, and culture with a rich and varied environment to explore. It remains one of Europe's most accessible cities, showcasing cultural treasures from the Renaissance period and beyond. Florence is also home to the flagship stores of Italy's greatest fashion houses.

Where else can you find works by Dante, Michaelangelo, and Gucci all standing side by side!

Questions & Answers

It will depend where your apartment is! The different class buildings are kind of scattered throughout Florence. So, I had one class that was only about a 10 minute walk, but another that was a solid 30 -45 minute walk. In general though, they're never too far, and you really love to learn the walk and get to know the city. I recommend walking around and finding the buildings with some of your...

Reviews

98%
based on 49 reviews
  • Academics 7.4
  • Support 9.4
  • Fun 8.9
  • Housing 9.3
  • Safety 9.5
Showing 16 - 30 of 49
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Heather
10/10

Living in Art

I cannot emphasize enough how much my semester abroad meant to me. Of course the Italian food and travel options were once in a lifetime, but so were the academics. Being taught by Italian professors in Italian buildings is something that I still cannot grasp that I did. Taking an art class in Florence, with such deep art history, is something that really stuck with me. I did not know much about art, but my professor showed us techniques in the Italian language that I could not have learned in the states. Not only did I learn how to do basic art, but I lived in it. Art was everywhere in this old city. While this art class only transferred back as a core class for me, I am amazed at how such a simple class really changed my perception on certain ideas. Not only did all my classes transfer back as credit to my home university, but the wonderful knowledge transferred back with me as well. SAI did a great job at helping me create a life within the artisan city by always being available and by showing me all the art around me. They were a great resource to use when I felt lost in the city or when I felt like I had seen all Florence had to offer. Their activities not only were created for fun, but indirectly also taught me about appreciation for the art around me.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Sarah
10/10

SAI and Study Abroad Is the best decision ever!

My semester in Florence Italy was the best four months of my life. Abroad experiences are unlike anything else you can possibly encounter at home. Choosing SAI as my program for the semester was everything and more I had hoped for. I was able to complete my fashion internship abroad, meet some of the coolest people, and live in Florence Italy! SAI was there for me anytime when I needed it, and I never felt alone. In a place that can feel foreign at times, I never really felt that way in Florence studying with SAI. One time in Florence my roommates and I managed you get ourselves locked out of our apartment. We were able to call SAI and within minutes someone was able to help us. When we moved in to our apartment in January it was so cold, and for some reason our apartment wasn't staying very warm. Come to find out that our heater was partly broken. SAI fixed this for us quickly, and while we were waiting, provided us with extra blankets for our apartment. My list goes on about all the great things that SAI did for us. Go abroad and choose SAI for your abroad program! :)

Yes, I recommend this program
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Kaela
10/10

Fun in Florence, Italy

I studied abroad in Florence, Italy in Spring of 2015. I had an amazing time abroad, traveling to 11 different countries and 46 cities. While I did have an amazing time traveling throughout Europe, Florence was definitely my favorite. Living in another country, learning the language, the culture, and discovering the beauty of the city is something I will cherish forever and never forget. Some of my most memorable experiences include attending a Toga Party at the Pink Palace in Corfu, Greece; holding a falcon at a palace in Budapest, Hungary; partying at the Bermuda Triangle in Vienna, Austria; and walking through the streets of Prague. Studying abroad changed my life and I am homesick every day for my life in Florence.

How can this program be improved?
SAI Program has an orientation that they hold in the beginning of the semester for the study abroad students. I wish they could have given us more information on what to do in case of an emergency, as my roommates and I did have one and couldn't speak Italian well enough to receive the help we needed.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Sarah
10/10

Sometimes it's the little things

When you go abroad, more often than not you get caught up in how big an experience this is and you focus on all of these big things you have to do. For me, in Florence, Italy, I had to go to the Uffizi, see the David, climb to the top of the Duomo, go to the San Lorenzo Market, visit the Boboli Gardens, and so many other big events that I kept focusing on until one day, early in my semester abroad I decided to just sit for a little. I found a spot along the Arno river that splits Florence in half, jumped up on the cement wall that runs along the river and pulled out my little sketchbook. With my back propped up against one of Florence's elegant lampposts (yes, even the cities lampposts are beautiful), I gazed down the river at the Ponte Vecchio and began to sketch. People passed on the sidewalk next to me, tourists, residents of Florence, visitors from all over the world. Some tourists even paused behind me, watching the strange girl sitting on the wall sketching. I even had a few ask if they could take a picture of my drawing with the bridge in the background. They would stand over my shoulder for a few seconds before continuing on to their busy day. For once, I was the slow one. I was the one taking her time to really see every detail of what I was seeing, how almost every window on it was different, how little rooms jutted out over the river, held up by only a few supporting beams beneath it, how the sun created shadows on the river beneath the bridge. I watched little people walk over the historic sight, take selfies with it, take pictures of it but not really see it. This was the moment I realized that going abroad wasn't just about seeing the big sights, it was about these small moments. The small moments where you can take your time to appreciate something you might not have noticed if you were just a tourist because you're not a tourist. For four months, you're a resident, a Florentine.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Nicole
10/10

A Trip of a Lifetime

Studying abroad in Florence, in one word, was amazing. For most of my life, I had heard stories from my father, telling me stories about my grandmother who made these delicious Italian meals and desserts. She used to tell me stories when I was younger about her vague memories of living in Italy, and I loved hearing her speak to my grandfather in Italian. I had always dreamed of traveling to Italy to explore my Italian roots and heritage, and studying abroad through SAI provided me the perfect opportunity to do so.

When I arrived in Italy, I contacted some family members who live there, whom I've never met before. They were more than willing to meet with me at some point, and we planned to meet during Easter time. Once the time came, I took a train from Florence to San Benedetto, a coastal town on the eastern side of Italy. My father and boyfriend had also came down to visit during that time, so they were able to meet my Italian family as well.

As I arrived at the train station in San Benedetto, my family was there to greet me. The night before Easter, we went to one of my family member's house, a beautiful home in the hills overlooking the town. All the food was prepared that day, fresh from the oven. Fresh breads, pizzas...things I have never heard or smelled before. All my family members (only a few could speak English) crowded over to my boyfriend, my father, and I, asking one family member to translate everything we said into Italian, and asked us so many questions. The room we were eating in felt warm and cozy, and we sipped on some homemade dessert wine, the strongest wine I've ever tasted. It was an amazing feeling, being surround by these people I have never met before, yet feeling so welcomed and comfortable.

For actual Easter day, we attended a church service. The service was beautiful, and it was the first service I had attended since being abroad. And being able to experience it with my Italian family members was such a special experience. For Easter brunch, we went to a family owned restaurant, and were served a five course meal. I had to force myself to eat everything on my plate, and it seemed like all my family members were able to get it down no problem. The stereotype that Italians eat a lot is in fact true. But the food was delicious...three different pastas, breads, veal, beef....holy cow!

After spending two nights there, we had to leave San Benedetto. It was harder to say goodbye to my Italian family than I thought. Their kindness and hospitality provided me with so much joy and feelings of togetherness. Today, I still keep in contact with some of them, and hope to make plans to visit them again someday!

How can this program be improved?
If I could change one thing about this program, it would be to implement more opportunities and activities for study abroad students to interact with the local community, and perhaps Italian college students. Although the school, FUA, offers a few programs/groups that allow students to be paired up with an Italian local to practice speaking Italian, or to be paired up with Italian families to meet with once a week, I think more could be done for the sake of "fun", and more in the local, Florence community. I thought it would have been very interesting to meet Italian students my age, and to hear about what life is like for them in Italy. It's difficult to meet locals the same age and who also speak English. I think if SAI implemented some type of group or program that pairs study abroad students with Italian college students, it would be a great way for study abroad students to learn even more about the Italian culture.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Andrea
10/10

Trip of a lifetime!

I ended up living off of tomatoes, mozzarella and baguettes with balsamic vinegar because I would eat it twice a day! My roommates were addicted, as well! Make sure you're aware of how delicious mozzarella cheese is in Italy and plan accordingly (save money just for mozzarella balls)!

How can this program be improved?
Overall, I loved the program so much that I wouldn't want to change anything, but I would have loved to have more excursions! Maybe add more in the future.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Makenna
10/10

Study Abroad in Florence!

Florence is an amazing city and it is full of Italian culture and history. It was so cool to walk through the same streets as such influential people. I traveled a lot in my time and I think that was really important to my study abroad experience. With that said it was really important to me to find a balance between traveling, studying, and exploring Florence. Overall my experience was amazing and I would highly recommend studying abroad to anyone!

How can this program be improved?
More sponsored trips
Yes, I recommend this program
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Tanyssa
10/10

Abroad in Firenze

The first few days were difficult, but once a student gets involved in school and social events the experience becomes so much better! Those who did not enjoy all of their experience in Florence did not seek friends and involvement on campus. I personally enjoyed simply participating in the ABS class in the gym with the soccer coach and other school related activities which helped me meet other students and friends. The program was great, academics were a breeze compared to my liberal arts school back home but I still learned so much from my professors! They will be mentors for life and great to keep in touch with. Housing was good and nice and close to school (right next to Santa Croce).

Yes, I recommend this program
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Anne
9/10

Florence, Italy

I traveled through SAI to Florence, Italy. I really enjoyed my time and my class schedule was not overwhelming at all. It turned out that I only had classes three days a week so I had a lot of time to explore around Florence, Italy, or other places. I thought I was going to have trouble with the length of the classes (2.5 hours once a week) but it worked out really well for me. The SAI staff was also very helpful to me. If I ever went to their office with questions I would always leave with more knowledge and satisfaction because they were so pleasing to work with. I think the best part of my experience was just walking passed all of the attractions and beauty of Florence, especially on a day like walking to class; it could really boost up your spirits. Florence being in the region of Tuscany is a major plus. The landscape is beautiful around Florence and is great to explore. The biggest struggle I found when I was in Florence is having the time to see everything! There was so much I wanted to see in Italy and also other countries. Time just flew by!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Julia
10/10

Wonderful Semester!

I had a wonderful semester, and absolutely loved studying in Florence.
My one regret was there were no Italian students and it was difficult to make Italian friends.
Otherwise, I highly recommend this program! The staff was friendly and helpful, and Florence is a wonderful city!

How can this program be improved?
Increased opportunity to interact with the Florentine community and get to know Italians.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Tori
10/10

A Summer of Adventure!

I absolutely loved my time studying abroad with SAI Programs at Florence University of the Arts. Prior to my departure, the staff aided me with whatever questions or concerns I had, and made sure I felt prepared for the journey that awaited me. As soon as I Arrived, I met my three roommates, who thanks to the housing survey, were the perfect fit for me! We became fast friends, and I immediately felt at home in this big city. The Orientation was also helpful, allowing us to meet other SAI students, and to get to know the SAI staff. The staff is amazingly kind, understanding, and willing to help out in whatever way they can. At no point did I feel confused, unsupported, or scared; the SAI staff made me feel right at home! On top of that they provided great recommendations for restaurants, gelato, and things to do around the city.
My time at FUA was unlike any other. I took beginning Italian and Introduction to Art History, two classes that couldn't be taught anywhere better than in Florence! My teachers were very nice, wanted to get to know us as students, and understood our desire to experience all the city had to offer! The course load was definitely manageable, and we were constantly being immersed into the subject area we were practicing. Whether it was interviewing local shop owners or ordering our food in Italian, or even visiting museums filled with works by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, the learning never ended in a city rich with culture.
The apartments were also really nice. Mine was in the neighborhood part of the city, which I loved. There was a little coffee and pastry shop right next to our apartment and every morning my roommates and I would order an espresso. The man at the register knew very little English, so we were forced to practice our Italian. Due to our daily routine of ordering coffee, we became fast friends with the man and his wife even though a language barrier existed. I enjoyed getting the opportunity to immerse myself in the culture in such an authentic way, free from tourists.
I also loved going on the FUA excursions and enjoyed times in Pisa, and Cinque Terre that were filled with activities led by our professors! There was also plenty of time to travel on the weekends which provided for a summer filled of adventuring!
I met so many amazing people through the SAI program, and loved every moment traveling together, taking in the view from Piazza Michelangelo, and enjoying huge dinners of pizza, pasta, and wine! I would recommend the SAI program to anyone; as they gave me an experience I will never forget and supported me unconditionally along the way!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Kayla
10/10

My Summer Abroad

I chose this program because I knew I wanted to be in Florence, and they offered classes that sounded interesting to me. I went for 7 weeks during the summer of 2014. I took the cultural introduction week, which I highly recommend because it was a perfect transition into life abroad in a smaller-group setting, and it gives you a feel for the culture before settling down into one place. Once in Florence, I took the history of Italian renaissance and wine culture in Italy, both of which I really enjoyed. Both classes had engaging field trips, and in my wine class, we had a tasting in almost every class! As far as outside of school, I became really close with other people in my program and also my roommates. We traveled almost every weekend since I only had classes on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I went not only places within Italy like Rome and the Amalfi Coast, but also to Prague and Croatia (definitely check out Bus2Alps for easy and cheap weekend trips). Overall I had the summer of my life, and I would 100% recommend going abroad with SAI.

How can this program be improved?
The only thing is that my apartment wasn't that great compared to other people's, but I wasn't home that much anyways and also the general living conditions in Europe and America are just really different.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Devin
10/10

Best experience!

Studying abroad in Florence through SAI was the best decision I have made! The staff was incredibly helpful and the school building locations were in easy to find areas. SAI was there to make the study abroad experience even more incredible by taking us on excursions through other parts of Italy and aiding students in becoming immersed with the community. If I have the chance to study abroad again through SAI I would definitely do it all over again! Great city, great staff, and an overall amazing experience!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Katharine
9/10

Great Program

SAI does a really fantastic job of helping you plug into the local community. They love Florence and love helping students discover it. Whether you need travel tips, local hangouts, or your lightbulbs changed on your impossibly high ceilings, they're there for you.

How can this program be improved?
A few extra organized programs or events at the beginning while you're figuring out the city would be helpful. It's a good growing experience to figure it out yourself, but it can be a little overwhelming.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Stephanie
10/10

The Best Four Months

Studying abroad with SAI Florence was the most amazing and memorable experience of my life. I traveled to many countries and also had the opportunity to explore Italy. I loved exploring Florence the most because there were always new places to go and sites and museums to visit. I am from the suburbs and also go to a small college so I am not used to city life, but I absolutely loved exploring on my own and through this I became more comfortable traveling and doing things independently. I did travel with SAI on one weekend trip which was very organized and informative. Through studying abroad, I did meet many other American students who became travel buddies and lifelong friends (some of which were my roommates). I did appreciate that SAI did set up gatherings for students to get to know each other. I only went to one or two, but it was still nice to know that it was an option. I could literally write pages about how incredible my experience was in Florence (and I did keep a journal and blog which is useful). I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to go and explore other cultures and I highly recommend SAI to anyone considering going abroad!

How can this program be improved?
I think that the communication could be improved with SAI and the students. A man would come to repair things in our apartment and we had no idea that he would be coming. We never got a warning so at first we were very nervous to let a man who did not speak english into our apartment. I also would have liked for more weekend trips to be offered, although the day trips were good too.
Yes, I recommend this program

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About SAI Programs

With headquarters located just north of San Francisco, SAI Programs was founded in 1995 to serve as the US admissions office for an Italian art institute in Florence. Since that time, SAI has expanded into a full-service international education...