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FIT in Florence

December 16, 2016
by Alexandra
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It’s Not Goodbye…

As Maria so eloquently put, just a mere four months ago, I began this once in a lifetime opportunity to spend an Academic Year abroad here in Firenze. It was one of the the most amazing, challenging, and life-changing decisions I have ever made. Now as the semester officially closes, I can’t help reflect on what has been an already incredible experience, how grateful I am for the memories I have made thus far, and the ones that I know are to come.

Studying abroad has opened my horizons to learn about the world, because life is just not merely supposed to be lived in one place. While I’m just saying “Ciao, Bella” to my beloved Firenze for now as I leave for a few weeks on winter break vacationing, it doesn’t seem real that four months have flown by so quickly.

I remember the first day I arrived like it was yesterday, the first time seeing Polimoda, and the first time I met so many friends that have become like family. It has been such a treat being able to experience my time abroad with such great people surrounding me.

Looking back at my first few months here, I can’t help but have Five Firenze (or travel) memories that I can reflect on.

Five Firenze Memories

First Day of Polimoda

Can I just finish my last year of school here too?! It only seems fair. Polimoda is a dream school; it feels like you’re stepping back in time into the Renaissance! School seems so much better knowing how much history lies between the walls. My first day was no exception, it started off this journey in such a cool way.

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Atop the Piazzale Michelangelo

The Piazzale Michelangelo is a must see visit in Florence. You get a full view of the entire city; the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, and various cathedrals. It was my definite aha moment for how much this city has captured my heart.

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Geneva and Paris

As I think back on my first four months here, I can’t help but think of Geneva and Paris as the turning point in the semester and a time which bonded so many important friendships I now have. It was a time with so much learning, growth, and opportunity. I’ll never forget attending the trade shows, because it was the day I knew I had to become a buyer one day!

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Venezia

When we visited Venice it was more than halfway through the semester and also our last academic trip, but it brought so much more togetherness and fun out of our fellow FBM family. It was so nice to explore a city right here in Italia.

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Thanksgiving

Being away from home, friends and family, and familiarity on a holiday where we celebrate all of those things can be challenging, but being here surrounded with people who have become like family made all the difference. It’s so nice knowing that an experience like being abroad can bring that close-knit nature out of people.

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Those were just a few highlights of an amazing Fall semester here, and I can’t tell you how much of a joy it was to be able to write for you all. I would be remissed if I didn’t mention how much the Fall 2016 semester students will be missed. They have made our experience here all the better, but I know I’m not alone in saying we are overjoyed to welcome the Spring 2017 students come January, because it is guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience! Wishing you all Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year! I look forward to seeing you all again in 2017.

Con amore,

Allie

December 7, 2016
by Maria
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Sentiments from a Semester Abroad Student

Where has the time gone?! I know you will be asking yourself this very question, once you realize that you have less than two weeks left of the semester. It seems like just yesterday that we first arrived in a completely new and different city, culture-shocked and confused, but amazed at everything we were seeing for the very first time. The amazement factor of Florence will always stand true, but the confused-part of the study abroad experience has definitely dwindled and you may just be starting to feel as though you really belong here.

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So…your emotions may be all over the place right now, just as they are for me. But, after taking a moment to recollect your thoughts, the satisfaction of your experience will definitely start to surpass any sad feelings you may be having. Yes, it may be difficult to see that some of your friends will be staying in Florence for the following semester, but just remember that everything that you did experience throughout this semester would not have been possible if you didn’t make the first step to apply for the program and hop on that plane to Europe.

 

To be honest, I was starting to regret the fact that I did not choose to study abroad for the full year. But then I realized, that there is no reason to dread on the past, when you can appreciate all of the great things that did come out of that decision. I got a really great piece of advice from Lisa from Polimoda when she told me, “You can always study, intern or work abroad later. This is just the trial run to get to know yourself as an international person.” These words really stuck with me and made me realize that in the grand scheme of things, we are only 20 years old, and we really do have the rest of our lives to expand upon all of the traveling that we have already done! She is one of many people who I have met who have studied abroad in Florence and then ended up moving here later on. So, you never know where life will take you!duomo

So, now that you are starting to feel a little better about your decision and are looking forward to going back home and being reunited with family and friends, it is a good time to reminisce about how much you have grown throughout your time here.

 

Speaking from my own personal perspective, there are a few things that I have realized I was able to accomplish from studying abroad (and you may feel the same way):

1. To vaguely sum it up, you are a lot more cultured than you were before you arrived.

  • As someone who has lived in the United States for her whole life, it is easy to just see the world with one set of eyes. But, after living in a completely different country for 4 months and traveling to even more countries outside of Italy, your mind will soon be opened up to different types of lifestyles, communication, and culture.

2. You will now be able to plan trips like a pro

  • This was really the first time that I have completely planned my own trips, without relying on my family. When you are younger,  you tend to just tag along to whatever trips your family may be planning. But now, we are really growing up, and with that comes responsibility for our own endeavors. You will start to realize how just how much thought goes into planning a weekend trip, or even just a simple day trip for that matter. But, once you figure out all of the details, it is such a great feeling to know that you are capable of planning an organized and successful trip!

travel-prep  3. You may actually be able to expand upon your Italian vocab!

  • Your friends and family may be under the assumption that you will come back to the U.S. speaking fluent Italian. This will most likely not be the case, being that you will still be spending the majority of your time speaking English to your American friends and professors. But, your daily interactions with the locals will make you more comfortable with simple phrases and words for a good foundation. You will definitely return to the U.S. knowing at least a little more Italian than you knew before you came.

4. You will be in foodie-heaven

  • Being able to try the traditional, local dishes of a particular city is one of the great things about really being able to experience a new place and all of its offerings. It is a really cool feeling to be able to compare a particular cuisine that you have eaten in the U.S., to the real traditional dishes that are actually being served in that place
Traditional Tuscan Dish-Ribollita, aka my new favorite meal!

Traditional Tuscan Dish-Ribollita, aka my new favorite meal!

 

5. Your time management skills will really improve!

  • Being that you will most likely feel that you are constantly be crunched for time, you will be trying to squeeze 1000 different things into a relatively short period of time. From an outsider’s point of view, you may seem crazy for the amount of activities/trips that you are taking on, but you will appreciate it in the long run! Also, you will realize just how many things that you were able to accomplish in what seems like such a short period of time, in addition to balancing all of your classes and schoolwork.

6. You will make some pretty great friends, who will start to feel like family!

  • It can sometimes be difficult to be away from your family and friends from home for a long period of time. But, when you surround yourself with people that you really enjoy being with, you will start to feel like you have created a second family all on your own. Since the program is relatively small, you will find yourself seeing the same familiar faces all of the time, and you will get to know everyone pretty well. In no time, you will find yourself creating friendships that will last for a lifetime, even after you leave Florence!

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img_6773-27. Florence is your new home away from home

  • When you think about it, it is very impressive that you are now able to say that you lived in Florence for a complete 4 months, or 9 months (if you are a year student). In the time that you have been here, it is likely that you have gotten pretty acquainted by this beautiful city. You will impress yourself by how well you have learned the streets of Florence, and how much better you probably are at navigating around. And…the next time that you come back to visit Florence, you will feel like you are back at home!

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A piu tardi, Firenze

xoxo,

Maria

December 2, 2016
by Alexandra
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A Very Happy FASA Thanksgiving

‘Tis the season! Even though Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated here in Italy, that didn’t stop us from making our own celebration, and highlighting the importance of the holiday by reminding ourselves what we’re thankful for and surrounding ourselves with the company with the great friends and professors that have quickly become like family! Plus, it also gave us an excuse to eat yummy American food, which is always encouraged.

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FASA hosted a Thanksgiving dinner with students and professors alike at a nearby American church. Over 50 of us were able to have a belated celebration filled with Thanksgiving specialties such as turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and then other delicious creations made by everyone! My mouth is watering thinking about all the amazing creations everyone was able to put together.

We had such cute spirited decorations, games (Heads Up! is always a classic), and company being surrounded by those we have built some great relationships with over the course of a semester. For some, it marks the near end of this life changing experience, others it marks a time to go home and regroup, and others who will gear up for their own travels during break.

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The following day, several of us were able to give back to the community by participating in Colletta Alimentare, which was on Saturday, November 26 and marked the Italian national day of food donation collections. It was so nice being able to give back to the community that has been our home for just about four months and counting and be able to help those in need! We collected food donations at a local supermarket and others helped pack away the goods to be sent.

Florence has quickly become a home away from home for many of us and as the holiday season quickly approaches, it is clear that we have built a strong community as the students of FIT in Florence!

Con amore,

Allie