A Semester of a Lifetime
Gwen, SAI Ambassador
July 24, 2018

We recently caught up with SAI Ambassador Gwen, who shared with us her memories on her time in Florence. 

What was your favorite class abroad?

While studying abroad at Florence University of the Arts I had the opportunity to take Travel Writing; a weekly class that encouraged travel and diary style writing about my personal experiences abroad. As a creative writing minor, this course was an absolute dream for me. I was assigned, and encouraged to spend mornings walking through Boboli gardens, evenings people watching at Piazzale Michelangelo, and weekends hopping all over Europe. Each week brought a new writing prompt, often a phrase, section from a textbook or a piece of art, that took us off the generic tourism travel writing path. We were given a list of words to never use while writing (beautiful, cobblestone road, amazing, life changing etc…) This kept our writing crisp, unique and accurate to our personal experiences. To this day, I still grab my diary that we kept throughout the course and read it, as a way to revisit my time abroad.

Looking for the closest gelato shop! // Duomo, Florence

Favorite thing to do in your host city?

Although there are so many things I loved to do around Florence, my absolute favorite past time was people watching from my third floor apartment window. Some of my favorite memories come from my roomates and I gathering in the huge windows our apartment had, drinking glasses of wine and listening to the sounds of the city below.

Walks to class looks better in Florence // on my way to FUA

Our apartment also offered us a bonus of being across the street from a theater, so we often caught some of the orchestra music and intermission conversations between local Florentines. In those first few weeks when the city was hot and packed, our windows offered us a cool breeze at night and a place to admire our new home.

Smiling my way through study abroad // Verona, Italy

Favorite memory from study abroad?

My favorite memory from study abroad is hands down skiing in the Swiss Alps. I have never been so blown away by the beauty in the world as I was that day. Me and some of my friends went to Switzerland in November and caught the first weekend of skiing in the Jungfrau Region. It was a cold day with blue skies, that allowed us to take our time admiring the mountains as we skied all over. I have skied since I was little so this was a bucket list experience that did not disappoint.

Classroom views // FUA, Florence

Gwen was an SAI Florence fall 2017 student from Saint Mary’s College of California.

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About SAI

SAI is dedicated to providing academic and cultural learning experiences abroad that enhance global awareness, professional development and social responsibility. We concentrate our programs in Europe, with a focus on in-depth learning of individual European countries and their unique global role in the geopolitical economy, humanities, and in the arts.