Growing up in an Italian household I always dreamed to go to Italy. In 2018 my parents made it possible for my family to visit on vacation and I fell in love. I knew after that I had to go back. Studying abroad with SAI is not only allowing me to explore Italy again but giving me the chance to live immersed in the culture for the semester.
I had always planned to go abroad with my best friend who lives in Washington, 2,052 miles from me in South Carolina. We wanted to go to Florence together during our Fall semester of junior year. It made me feel so much better about the experience knowing I would be going with someone I already knew. I was so nervous to already go so having a friend go with me I knew would make me feel more at home. I found out about 6 months before that unfortunately she could not go because of the deadlines for her classes that had to be taken at her home university. I was devastated and even considered not going anymore because she would not be going with me. I knew I would be giving up a dream opportunity if I did not go. As much as I wished she was able to take on this experience with me I knew I still had to do it.
SAI reached out in so many ways to help me throughout the application process. I got to sit down and have lunch with someone from my home University and learn about their experience abroad. She also went through SAI but went to Barcelona. She told me all about her experiences and how she would not have traded them for the world. This made me feel so at ease about the whole situation and I decided to fully commit to going abroad my Spring semester junior year at Florence University of the Arts. I got to meet some girls from USC that were also going to Florence University of Arts through SAI!
My first full day in Florence was, to say the least, a dream. It does not even seem like real life that we are finally here and able to study abroad despite the pandemic. My outlook has gone from nervous and unsure to very excited and ready to take on all that this city has to offer. I am blown away by the beauty of Florence. Not only is it like walking around in a museum, but I have also tasted some of the best food I have ever had in the past 48 hours of being here.
I instantaneously became best friends with my roommates. It was like we had known each other our whole lives. I cannot even say how much better it made me feel to know they were so open to doing everything together on our first few days. Walking around and taking in all the beauty with new friends warms my heart so much. I cannot wait to start classes and be even more immersed in the Florence culture throughout the semester.
Grace is a Spring 2021 Florence student from the University of South Carolina.