What surprised you most about your study abroad city/culture?
Other than the Italian’s affinity for Pringles (they’re everywhere), I was pleasantly surprised by the prevalence of spending quality time with others in Italian culture. Whether it be at an aperitvo, family-style dinner, or a regular sit-down meal, Florence was always bursting with people coming together. I feel as though American culture is notorious for being rushed and getting things done in the most efficient way possible. However in Italy, it was very refreshing to see people simply enjoying time with one another without worrying about how long it lasted or what they were doing afterwards.
How did your study abroad experience enhance your knowledge/skills/understanding of your intended career field?
At FUA, I took an Entrepreneurial Marketing course (I am a marketing major). At the start, a new business came and spoke to our class about their mission and company objectives. Throughout the rest of the course, we worked with groups to take what we learned in the lecture to create an in-depth marketing analysis of the company to be presented at the end of the course. Overall, I learned a lot about the importance of not having one marketing approach for every business you come across. Different businesses require different strategies and methods depending on their structure, goals, and development. What may be successful for one company, can be completely unsuccessful for another.
What was your favorite thing to do in your host city?
Most days after class, my friend and I would usually aimlessly wander around the city to see what new thing we could find or do, especially since it was so easy to get around on foot. Florence isn’t a huge city, but there are still so many hidden treasures, always leaving new places to be explored. I also really enjoy thrifting, and Florence actually has several great vintage stores. Even if I wasn’t going to buy anything, it was fun to look around these stores to see the unique and interesting items they had.
What advice do you have for new study abroad students?
Don’t be afraid to try something new just because it is unfamiliar to you. I found that the best experiences abroad come from putting yourself outside of your comfort zone, and being open to try anything. The only way to get the most out of being abroad, is allowing yourself to become fully immersed in the culture and new experiences.
What is your most memorable interaction with a local in your host city?
My friends and I would often hike up to the Piazzale Michelangelo to watch the sunset and get a great view of Florence. Every time we went, without fail, the same old man would be there hyping up the crowd, trying to start the wave, or dancing if there was a performer there that night. He was always there to entertain the people and will definitely be someone I will never forget.
Annabel was a summer 2019 Florence student from University of Georgia.