When choosing to study abroad, the options seemed endless. I went to a study abroad fair at my university and it seemed like there were countless program I could study abroad with, I thought I would never be able to decide which program would be best for me. After doing much research, I decided to go to Florence, Italy with SAI. One reason that I decided to study with SAI was because of their huge class selection. They offer classes in various areas of study. Their classes seemed very interactive and engaging with the community in Florence. I also decided to study abroad with SAI because of all the activities and excursions that they offer. SAI was reasonably priced and seemed like the most well-rounded program that was offered!
I was a bit nervous about being in a new city and having it not feel like home. Especially going to a new city, in a new country, and a new continent. Little did I know how inviting and welcoming Florence would be!! After being here for four days, Florence is already becoming familiar to me. I know it will feel like home in no time. The city is fairly small so I have already covered a lot of ground. I know that I will know my way around Florence like the back of my hand in just a few weeks! I the meant time I am taking tours of the city and markets and trying to take a mental picture of all the new places I go to.
I haven’t encountered any big obstacles being here in Florence yet. Maybe the only one is the language barrier. Luckily, SAI offers a one-day crash course on Italian so that I can learn the basics to get buy with. I plan on taking this class in a couple of days. The SAI staff has also been very helpful every time I ask them a question about the language. They put out the invitation for us to stop by the office whenever we need help with the language or have any questions. The local people have also been patient with me as a stumble through the few Italian words that I know.
Since being here in Florence, I have learned to deeply appreciate cultural differences and embrace them with an open mind. Being in a foreign country teaches you to look at day to day simplicity in a new light and slow down a bit. It has taught me that the American way is not always the right way and to try new ways of living. I’ve enjoyed buying food at the local market and trying new dishes. It took a few tries to master opening and closing my apartment door with my keys, but I finally got the hang of it. Little things like this remind me to appreciate different cultures and their little quirks.
I have been pleasantly surprised by the friendliness of the local people that I have talked to. I have had multiple servers and even strangers give me tips and tricks about the city. They have given me their best wishes during my stay and have been eager for me to enjoy their beautiful city.
Hannah is a Spring 2020 Florence student from Point Loma Nazarene University.