Roughly 8,000 students studied abroad in Florence in 2010, fast forward to almost a decade later and that number has surely increased since then. With so many students, the Florentines may be intrigued to find out why Florence is chosen above all others.
Let’s take a look at one in particular, April Leonard, a 22 year old senior at California State University, Fullerton who decided four months abroad in the city of Firenze was exactly what she needed to end her college career.
April, a California native, shared her thoughts below on her experience thus far in the city of Florence.
1. Is this your first time outside of the country. If so, what were your initial thoughts or worries about traveling? Traveling in Europe?
Yes, this was my first time leaving the country and I was going solo. I was more excited than nervous, I had absolutely no idea what to expect so I was heading overseas with a completely open mind. I was nervous about landing in London and being totally lost in a brand new country, but it all went well. I didn’t realize before coming to Europe how easy it is to travel around Europe or how much I myself would soon be traveling.
2. Expectations vs. Realities?
I didn’t have too many expectations just because I knew life in Florence was going to be very different from life in Orange County. I was very excited to try the food and it turned out to be amazing. I expected I would be learning a lot about myself and that is something I have been doing this entire experience.
3. How do you manage interning, going to class, and traveling?
I’ve always been good with time management but I had to learn how to be even better. After the first few times managing interning, class, homework, exercising and traveling I realized what I needed to get done earlier in the week versus later. I learned to do all my homework before leaving for a trip because the last thing you want to worry about after a weekend full of travel is getting your homework done. Also make sure to keep up on sleep, you need to in order to manage everything!
4. Favorite gelato and restaurant in Florence.
My favorite gelato is Venchi, they also have the best crepes. My favorite restaurant is I Tarocchi.
5. Culture shock, biggest differences?
Water isn’t free at restaurants and some have cover charges. Multiple course meals, service at restaurants is different from in the states. Public transportation is so accessible and so widely used, very different from California. Grocery stores are ALWAYS crowded, doesn’t matter what time you go.
6. What will you take back home with you when you leave Florence?
An open mind for sure, as well as a more laid back attitude. Italians enjoy life more, which can be seen through their two hour dinners and leisurely paces, being late isn’t the end of the world and it’s important to enjoy the company of friends. I also have never met people from so many different places, so I enjoy meeting new people and learning about their cultures.
7. Why did you decide to leave your last year of college?
As I am in my senior year of college, I figured I needed to take the opportunity to study abroad while I still had the chance, and it was the best decision I have made. I’ve learned so much I wouldn’t have learned at my school at home just by leaving my comfort zone in Orange County.
8. Florence DOs and DON’Ts
DO try and learn Italian, don’t be afraid to pronounce something wrong. DO try new food, and this is coming from someone who is very picky. DON’T be ignorant or un-open to learning about the culture of Florence.
There you have it, the inside scoop on the Florentine lifestyle in a student’s perspective. A student visiting abroad? Florencetown offers a 10% discount on all tours for students. So kick off your study abroad experience with a cooking class, bike tour of the city, or exclusive museum tour.
Cheers to new experiences and exploring Firenze!