SAI caught up with SAI Ambassador Hanna, who answered some questions about her time in Florence.
What was your favorite class abroad and why?
While abroad, I took four classes. They were all related to my major (marketing and communications) or my minor (art history). My favorite class was Florentine Art Walks. Once a week we would meet up and walk around the city for two and a half hours. I went to so many places and saw so many sites that I wouldn’t have experienced if it weren’t for this class and I learned so much more about my host city. I also got to walk off all the pasta and pizza I was eating on a daily basis! It definitely made it easier to settle into a foreign city and helped me learn to navigate around Florence.
What did you learn about yourself abroad? How have you changed?
Throughout my semester abroad I learned so much about myself. I was able to challenge myself by reaching outside of my comfort zone and do things I don’t normally do here in the States. I actually went abroad not knowing anyone form my home university, helping me to learn that I am able to make it on my own, whether it be traveling alone or just living on my own in general. I was able to meet so many new people and have some of the best experiences of my life, stretching my semester to its full potential by not worrying about what I was missing out on back home. Coming back to the States, I’ve been able to witness how I have changed. I feel as though I am more outgoing and talkative, whereas before I was more closed off in public outings. I constantly seek adventure and I am not afraid of being on my own anymore.
What travel tips would you give someone studying abroad?
Travel light! The less you take in the beginning, the more you can take back home to the states! I took way too many clothes and didn’t even wear half of them. There are so many opportunities to shop, which is nice if you do end up forgetting things you need. I would also suggest taking one small piece of luggage for weekend travel. Many of the airlines abroad are very strict when it comes to carry-ons and it is a pain to check luggage when you’re just taking a weekend trip. One last suggestion is to take every travel opportunity that you can! Traveling over there is so much cheaper and easier than it is here in America. For me, I realized that it might be the only time I get to see many of these places, so I wanted to be sure to see everything I could! With that being said, don’t travel every weekend. A bit contradicting, I know, but you want to be sure to enjoy your host city as well.
How has studying abroad changed/shaped your career goals?
Studying abroad didn’t necessarily change my career goals, but confirmed them. I took many art history classes while in Italy, which made me fall more in love with the subject, reaffirming the fact that I want to pursue a career involving art. I took a Gallery and Exhibition class while abroad and learned how to run my own gallery, which opened up a door to a career I didn’t really think of before. I do however think studying abroad gave me more confidence in the fact that I can find a job in that field if I really want to.
What was your favorite thing to do in your host city?
One of my favorite things to do in Florence, Italy was to hike up to Piazzale Michelangelo before sunset and see the pretty view of the city as the sun sets on the day. My friends and I would pack a picnic and eat dinner up there on a weekly basis. It is by far one of the best views of Florence and it is definitely worth the hike.
Hanna was a spring 2018 SAI Florence student from the University of Mississippi.