Studying abroad in Florence

Three handy observations to keep in mind

Francesca Giordano
March 5, 2015

As most study-abroad students know, prior to your departure you are filled with all kinds of emotions. You are likely to be both anxious and excited about embarking on this adventure. For example, eager to learn as much as possible before I headed to Florence, I asked friends who had studied abroad there for advice. They sent me a variety of guides that they, in turn, had received from their friends and even ones they had made on their own. These ‘helpful hints’ included their favorite panini shops, where to go out on the town and even addresses for the secret bakery. But none offered these three observations, which are essential to remember no matter where you might study abroad.

 

1Adapting to a new lifestyle is a lot harder than it looks.When it comes to the details of everyday life, the learning curve can be steep and include things such as the proper way to order a coffee, when meals are eaten and how (or where) one does laundry. The things might seem trivial while you are still back in your home country, but once out of your element, you will see that changes in your daily routine can be quite stressful. There is a reason for the term ‘culture shock.’

2Time flies, so don’t waste the opportunity.Whether it is a semester or a year, your time abroad will fly by. In Florence, for example, I realized after a month that I was living in a history textbook but had not yet opened a single page. Explore whatever your study-abroad site has to offer and seize opportunities to travel (it can be done economically.) Don’t come home with a suitcase full of regrets about the things you did not do.

3. Studying’ abroad is, in fact, studying abroad.That said, you are still in college and you are here to learn. Classes are not any easier than they are on your home campus, and may be harder if they incorporate projects that require you to get out and use the language. So stay on top of your classes and assignments. 

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