Recently we caught up with SAI Ambassador Angelika, who studied abroad in Florence during the spring 2018 semester. In this blog entry, she answers some questions describing her time in Florence.
• What was your favorite thing to do in your host city?
I studied abroad in Florence, Italy. While there are so many things I can talk about that were my favorite, one activity that will never get old is hiking up to Piazzale Michelangelo. This scenic overlook is breathtaking and always a good idea. Whether you are going for a run or meeting friends and going for the sunrise or sunset, you will never be able to get over the view. My favorite time to go was during the sunset. There are always musicians singing and the environment is so relaxing and fun. It’s always a good idea to grab some local meats and cheeses from the grocery stores on your walk up. You could go and meet locals or other tourists or go with your friends. Sometimes we would go everyday if we could. Piazzale Michelangelo is an incredible way to experience and see the city of Florence.
• What travel tips would you give someone studying abroad?
While studying abroad and considering planning weekend trips to other cities and countries, ensure that you leave enough time to immerse yourself in your home city and local culture. A few weekends in the city you’re studying in will give you much more time to explore and eventually do things in your city that aren’t touristy. The more you explore your own city, the more you will fall in love with it. Often, we’re so excited to travel that we miss out on the true experience, living in a new city, learning a foreign language, getting to know the neighborhood, and meeting locals.
• What advice do you have for new study abroad students?
Communicate with your bank before you go abroad. Know whether you have to inform your bank of every country you go to, or if you can just let them know you will be gone for a certain period and traveling around. Ask them if they have any sister-banks, in the city you’re studying in, as well as in other locations you might travel to. If your bank has a sister-bank, you will be able to decline the conversion rate and not get charged when making withdraws. Research where these banks are located and where they have ATM’s. If your bank doesn’t have a sister bank, consider opening an account with a bank in America that does have a sister bank. If you don’t open an account or have a sister-bank nearby, be aware of what ATM’s you use. Many ATM’s, especially in Europe, are hacked and using them will allow people access to your account. The best way to avoid your account getting drained is by using ATM’s that are located inside banks. This means that there is a door you must enter to use the ATM and it is not just open on the street.
–Angelika was a spring 2018 SAI Florence student from the University of South Carolina. She is an SAI Ambassador.