SAI Programs: Study Abroad at FUA in Florence

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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 59 reviews
  • Academics 7.5
  • Support 9.4
  • Fun 9.1
  • Housing 9.2
  • Safety 9.5
Showing 16 - 30 of 59
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Abbey
9/10

SAI Review

I was overall very impressed with the SAI program when I studied abroad in Florence, Italy! I would definitely recommend SAI to anyone studying abroad due to their professional and prompt manner of handling every aspect of my studying abroad experience. Whenever I had a question or concern they were available to help in any way they could! The weekend trip that was offered free of charge was planned and executed immaculately even though the group was not small! The SAI team is both knowledgeable and experienced in guiding students through the studying abroad experience!

How can this program be improved?
If possible, I would have loved to do another weekend trip with SAI while abroad to get to know the staff even better and others in the program!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Carly
10/10

Amazing Experience!

I absolutely loved studying abroad in Italy with SAI Programs. They were so helpful when I was preparing to leave and also while I was in Florence. I couldn't be happier with my experience abroad and there's nothing that I would change. I got to travel every weekend around Italy because the train system is so amazing. Italy is the best place to go if you're studying fashion because you can learn so much about the industry in Italy.

How can this program be improved?
They should equip apartments a little better. I showed up and didn't even have any soap to wash my hands.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Allie
10/10

The Best 4 Months of my Life!!

SAI Florence was a perfect fit! Florence is a relatively small city and I was able to get my bearings rather quickly. The onsite support is incredible and the university was perfect. I took classes from wine tasting to sustainable tourism and more. The University fits almost any major needing a few classes and fun electives as well. They took us wine tasting in Tuscany, and a trip to Milan and Lake Como for the Weekend. I loved every minute!

How can this program be improved?
The only thing I can think of is more scholarship opportunities!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Lauren
10/10

Lovely in Tuscany

I absolutely loved my experience with SAI! Living abroad was a life-changing experience and one I would do over a million times. Part of what made SAI so great, was there support and responsiveness throughout the entire experience. The staff really cared about the program attendees and I really felt like I could talk to them. I also really enjoyed the apartment provided by the program, which was extremely chic and had a great location! SAI also provided great excursions, which included, for me, trips to both Bologna and Maremma Islands (which was beautiful!) In terms of classes, I really loved FUA (Florence University of the Arts) and it was amazing to have the ability to go to world famous museums for free with my classes. Overall, I would 100% recommend this program and this city for a fantastic study abroad experience!

How can this program be improved?
The only thing I could recommend would be to have some more events with Italian families. Although the school has an Italian family club, it would have been cool to have been automatically paired up with a family before going, since we were not in a homestay. Otherwise, everything about the program was fantastic!
Yes, I recommend this program
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Evan
10/10

You make it your own. SAI and FUA make that easy.

Picking my study abroad program was a stressful experience for me. Having never left the country, even entertaining the idea was cause for enough anxiety—seeing all of my options, then, made me dizzy. The moment I contacted SAI Programs, however, I was immediately put at ease by their staff, who somehow never got sick of my constant questions. Along with the staff at Mizzou's international office, the people at SAI assured me that the stress was normal, that the experience was exceedingly worth it. They encouraged me through the pre departure process. In mid-2016, I enrolled at Florence University of the Arts through SAI as excited and prepared as I could be. Shakily nervous, too, and I knew that was okay.

When I got to Italy, representatives from both SAI and FUA were there to greet me. SAI told me where to find them, gave me emergency contact info, a list of activities. FUA did much the same, giving me my class information, too. When I arrived at my apartment on Via Fiesolana, it was up to me to explore Firenze -- SAI would be there to support me, FUA there to educate me.

My experience abroad was consistently captivating. The sights I saw, the things I learned, and the atmosphere I lived in will forever coat my mind. The academic experience was like nothing I'd done before ("An Italian Journal" and the one-week "Cultural Introduction to Italy" course, you should take them.) When not in class, I encourage you to immerse yourself in your city -- SAI and FUA both have city walks, cooking classes, and other activities that give context to your Italian home.

Some tips:
- Even for the most eager, learned traveler, the language barrier and cultural differences can be jarring initially. I encourage you to be intrigued by these differences. Listen to the language, observe the habits, practice both. Nothing is quite as gratifying as conducting yourself like a local.
- Go to class and be a sponge. Many of the teachers are Italian, and they'll teach more about the culture than an article ever could.
- Find a trustworthy ATM (called a "bancomat") and take out lumps at a time to avoid constant fees. See the touristy places, definitely, but venture further for your wallet and experience's sake.
- As always, be safe in your explorations. Florence is a safe city, that much is sure, but you should still exercise the caution you would in America -- more, in fact, because you're farther from your home country.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Miranda
10/10

Summer with SAI

I studied abroad with SAI at Florence University of the Arts this past summer and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am a pharmacy student who was looking for a way to delve into my more artistic side and fulfill my lifelong dream of traveling to Italy. While abroad, I earned 6 credits in the classes of Beginner Italian and Street Photography. The professors at the University were always very friendly and helpful with challenging the students to step outside of our comfort zones and learn the culture of the area. One of my favorite aspects of the classes were the included field trips to smaller towns in Italy that I may not have ventured to on my own. In addition to the amazing professors, the SAI staff was also very welcoming and helpful with any problem I may have encountered. If you choose to study abroad with SAI, you will be making a decision that will positively impact the way you look at travel and life.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Danielle
10/10

Semester Abroad at FUA

The program that SAI provided while abroad in Florence Italy, could not have been more amazing. They were with you through everything. From the beginning SAI made sure that you were gathering all the materials that you needed to begin your adventure abroad. They provided more than enough information on how to obtain it all as well as they were there to answer any questions. SAI was more than welcoming when I landed in Florence. They had shuttles there to pick us up from the airport and drop us off at our apartments throughout the city.

SAI planned all these excursions and different activities that we could participate in. We took trips to Tuscany and Maremma as well as participated in a book making class. We went on a bike hike through Tuscany too. SAI was there for everything that you would need and I would not have had the experience I did without SAI.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Lauren
8/10

A Semester of Beauty

My favorite moment abroad in Florence, Italy with SAI Programs was when I had my first day of cooking class at FUA with Vittoria. She was the first part of my experience that made me realize i was truly at an international institution and was about to learn things that I would never be able to learn at home. She made me feel like I was actually in Italy.
The SAI staff was so amazing and helpful and made me feel so comfortable while being so far away from my home back in the US.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Adam
10/10

SAI: A Unique & Once in a Lifetime Experience

I studied abroad in the fall of 2015 through SAI in Florence, Italy. It was absolutely a once in a lifetime experience. SAI helped me every step of the way from settling in, to taking us on trips across Italy. If I had any problems abroad the SAI Florence staff of Regan, Pietro, and Alessandra were there for anything I needed. Also, in Florence I participated in the SAI Global Leadership Program. In that program I was able to volunteer all over florence with organizations such as the Tuscan Cancer Society and UNICEF. SAI gave me the opportunity to gain a different and better experience than the average abroad student in Florence. I am extremely grateful I was able to study abroad with SAI, I would recommend them 10 times out of 10.

How can this program be improved?
I would have liked to have heard a few recommended places across Europe to go to from the SAI staff. They were extremely helpful on where to go when in Florence and even in places in Italy. However, They did not talk much about where to travel across Europe in other country. They were a great program to have in Florence.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Halie
8/10

Fashion student goes abroad for the first time!

I studied abroad this past Spring Semester in Florence, Italy through SAI. I ultimately chose this program because they got their start in Italy--specifically Florence--so I knew they had experience and great connections with the city. I also chose this program because they offered a lot of Fashion-specific courses which fit in with my academic major. I loved how most of the FUA professors were not merely academics by trade, but rather experienced professionals in their respective fields. For example, my Fashion Marketing professor was the marketing director of her family's leather goods company and was able to provide a lot of insight, feedback, and suggestions with real world application and relevance. I also liked that our courses were supplemented with out of the classroom field trips, which helped to reinforce what we had learned about in class earlier in the semester. Prior to my study abroad experience, I had never traveled outside the United States so I was very nervous and unsure of myself, but after a few weeks I began to grow more independent and confident in myself. This was especially true, living and studying in a country where English was not the primary language. You have to learn to do your research (especially when traveling in or outside your home country) in advance because you can't rely on the Internet and smart phones the same way you can here! This experience made me appreciate a new culture as well as my own, and helped shed light on global issues and the different global perspectives regarding those issues. Lastly, it allowed me to travel to many different places in and outside of Italy giving me so many memories to last a life time!

How can this program be improved?
I wish they had offered classes multiple times during the week rather than once a week--not only would this have made classes much shorter and easier to sit through, but it would have also made the attendance policy less strict and more conducive to student travel plans. In my situation I had both Monday and Friday classes, but because the attendance policy was so strict (since we met not very often) I was unable to take lengthier trips out of the country.
Yes, I recommend this program
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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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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...