What advice do you have for new study abroad students?
Try your best to fit in and live like a local! Once you are settled in your city, pay attention to the way locals live and try them out yourself. For example, in Florence, instead of grabbing a coffee to-go like I normally would in the US, I would get a cappuccino and sit outside in the palazzo. Living the Italian lifestyle for a semester was a great new experience and made me appreciate their culture.
Don’t be afraid to try new things! In each new city I visited, I would ask them what one of their traditional dishes were that were on the menu. I tried so many different foods I would have never normally chosen. I can honestly say that I enjoyed every meal I had while I was abroad.
Go with the flow! When traveling things never seem to always go as planned, don’t waste time being upset and instead learn to work with the problems you come about. When going to a new city, research a little on what you want to see or places you definitely want to go. Once you have a list of things you definitely want to do, save time for exploring the city! Instead of taking a cab to the Trevi Fountain, walk there with your friends and adventure through the streets of Rome. You won’t regret having more free time to explore any city in Europe.
What felt the most foreign to you when you came back to the US?
The busy on-the-go American lifestyle is something that I had to jump right back into when returning to the US. I had gotten used to the Italian daily lifestyle and really appreciated my days in Florence. The stressful way of living in the US was something I did not miss; I enjoyed taking things at a slower pace while I was abroad. There would be nights where we spent hours in a restaurant but we did even realize it because we were enjoying our meals, wine, and the company of our friends. When walking through the streets, taking time to look around and enjoy all the beauty around us, was one of the better ways to spend a day. Being back in the US, I have been trying to continue their way of live. I try to remember to take a break from the business, enjoy every moment and appreciate the little things.
What was your most memorable interaction with a local in your host city?
On our first night in Florence, my roommates and I went to one of the restaurants closest to our apartment. Our first meal in Italy was delicious and we were waited on by a local who kept us laughing all night. We soon became regulars at this local spot. Each week after our travels, when we arrived back in Florence, we couldn’t wait to get back and go to our favorite restaurant. We never had a bad meal there and we couldn’t get enough of the bread! The waiter soon became a friend of ours, and waited on us every time we came in. Overall the friendliness of the all the locals, in the restaurants or on the streets, is what helped make Florence such a beautiful place to call home.
What was your favorite class abroad and why?
The Mystery of Wine was one of the classes I was most excited for going into my semester abroad. Surprisingly this was also one of my most challenging courses at FUA. Though it was challenging due to the great amount of information, it also was my favorite. We learned tons of information about different wines, the types and styles, the way it’s made, and the history and culture of wine in Italy. I was able to use the knowledge I gained outside of class, when at a restaurant or in the grocery store. We were each able to identify and describe our personal preference of wine. As a wine-lover, I enjoyed being able to taste and differentiate between all different types of wines in class. This class also helped me while on my weekend travels. When we would go on wine tours at different vineyards I felt like I had a greater experience with my new wine background. Overall, this class taught me so much about the Italian wine culture and was definitely a great class to take while abroad!
Marissa was a Spring 2019 Florence student from the University of Tampa.