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FIT in Florence

April 3, 2017
by Alexandra
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Study Abroad Tag

When I think back to the Fall of 2015, that is when my study abroad journey really began. Even though I didn’t technically come to Florence until last August 2016, the amount of planning and research for study abroad is often overlooked. As a college student, there are so many options, locations, and programs that we have. Quite literally the world is at our fingertips and it feels amazing!

Whenever people ask me questions about study abroad, I thought how wonderful would it be to answer some of those right here on the FIT in Florence blog to better prepare potential study abroad students or ones that are just curious!

I call this the “Study Abroad travel tag.”

Why should I study abroad? I believe your life begins at the end of your comfort zone and you have everything to gain. You are able to experience the world in a whole new way by studying what you love in a culturally enriching and unique place. You also meet lifelong friends and have incredible experiences!

When should I start planning? As soon as possible! You will need ample time for Visas, paperwork, and a lot of other important documents to take with you when you leave the country.

Why Florence? Even before I learned FIT had a year program for IFBM, I always knew I wanted to study abroad in Florence during my junior year, spring semester (random, I know). It is a city with such rich city and great culture. Also, it’s big enough where there’s always something to do, but small enough that once you get here you can always navigate easily!

Year or Semester? Year, year, year. I will preface this by saying you need to do what is right for yourself, your budget, and mindset. I remember going into study abroad info sessions only thinking about doing one semester, when I realized there would never be an opportunity to live abroad for a year in this way. It is something I would 100% do again if I had the chance. An opportunity like this only comes once in a lifetime!

I don’t know Italian that well. Will this be a problem? There’s always time to learn! The FIT in Florence program requires you to take a semester of the Italian language beforehand which comes in handy. Also, when you’re here I suggest you continue taking Italian and learn as much as you can. However, Florence is a city with many English speakers.

What challenges should I expect to face? I think a common misconception about study abroad is that it is always fun everyday. Because of social media, this is completely taken out of context. People will always share the best parts of study abroad, but there will always be challenges and struggles. I would say be prepared for anything and everything to be thrown your way; pickpocketing, missed trains, busses, or planes, or being locked out of your apartment. All of these experiences will make you a stronger person in the long run.

Best advice for a study abroad student? Everyone will tell you this before you leave, but it’s completely true. Don’t take one second for granted, because in the blink of an eye it all be over. Take every chance you get and live it to the fullest. Study abroad is an incredibly enriching experience and these experiences will stay with you forever.

I hope this helps for all those curious about studying abroad. My last bit of advice: study abroad…just do it! I can never say enough about living abroad for a year and how it has helped me in so many ways, as a student and a person.

As one of my favorite travel quotes by St. Augustine says, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

One of three “David” statues found throughout Florence. This one is atop the Piazzale Michelangelo.

Con amore,

Allie

March 10, 2017
by Ashi
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What to Expect: First Time in Florence!

Ciao, my fellow Tigers! It’s been about a month since we all landed in Italy with wide eyes and a thirst to explore! In the past couple weeks, my life has changed, in the best way possible! In short, I have moved to another country, found an apartment, made friends, started school, toured the whole of Florence and traveled to amazing places. Florence has blown all my expectations out of the water.

Initially, I was so nervous and anxious to fit in with the people who already had an established friend group but, as the universe has it… I made some great friends on the second day of being here!

Quick story: When my new roommate and I were looking for the restaurant, I saw a tall dome like building and thought it was the famous “Duomo” in Florence. It was probably ¼ the size of the real one and looking back I am so embarrassed for even thinking that! My advice to any student studying abroad: Never try to fit in with the people that are already friends… make your own and maybe even just stick to one other person that is open minded and willing to explore with you. You will have no issue meeting other people, as you will share most of your classes with the people in your major.

The next day was apartment-hunting day! My new friends and I decided to stick together and search for a new home! We all got along really well at orientation and were really anxious to move out of that hostel! LONG story short: The four of us had a tough day trying to find an apartment in a foreign country. The best way to describe it is the “GO-SEE” day in America’s Next Top Model. When the models have to run around a new country to find appointments and make impossible deadlines.. YUP that’s how it was. The last apartment we saw was a WINNER! All 4 of us walked in and screamed YES like the crazy Americans that we are. Whoever tells you finding an apartment abroad is a piece of cake is a liar. It is a ton of work but is very rewarding! Our apartment is everything I hoped for and MORE! My advice: I know that it can be nerve wrecking to come to another country without a place to live but trust me everything works out. FIT in Florence has a lot of connections and people who are willing to help with every step along the way.

        The next few days were amazing. FIT in Florence organized a historic tour of Florence and I have fallen in love! One night, all of the FIT students went out for Aperitivo (which is basically Italian happy hour for FOOD instead of drinks) and then socialized all through the night. It was nice to get to know all the people in our program. Also the classrooms look like an art gallery.. It is unbelievable!

I can now say that studying abroad is the best decision that I have ever made.Quick Story: My roommate and I spontaneously decided to go to the Tuscan countryside for the day and saw the Leaning Tower of Pisa in real life and it was so exciting! It’s only bus ride away from Florence and totally worth it! Everyday is a new adventure here and I am obsessed with every inch of Florence. It feels surreal to be in this beautiful city and to see the Duomo on the way to class and to walk across the Ponte Vecchio everyday. I can’t wait to explore more. I’ve learned that sneakers or flat shoes are the way to go in Italy! The cobblestone streets don’t mesh well with high heels! But I’ll save my tips and ticks for another post!

February 17, 2017
by Alexandra
0 comments

Long Time No Talk

Now that the spring semester is in full swing, it’s been a moment since we’ve all talked to each other last! The holidays, winter break, and the start of semester two came and went, so I can only imagine how fast the time will fly this time.

Acquainting myself back to Florence, moving into a new apartment, and meeting all the spring students has been such a whirlwind and a blast. In a short period of time, the FBM students will be headed to Lake Como and Milan for our first academic trip of the semester!

After all this time, it’s no surprise how much the city of Florence has captured my heart. For those who have just been accepted, are thinking about applying, or are in the process of beginning their journey to study abroad…this one is for you!

I present to you my Five Firenze Faves.

Five Firenze Faves
Favorite Gelato

So most of these may (or may not) be about food…but the gelato here is UNREAL! After trying many, many gelato places my all time favorite is La Carraia. They have two locations here in the beautiful Renaissance city, one right off of Ponte La Carraia (Piazza Nazario Sauro, 25/r) and the other in Santa Croce (Via de’ Benci, 24/r). My favorite flavors are many; arachidi salate (salted peanuts), biscotti (cookies), and cioccolato latte (milk chocolate).

Favorite Pizza

I definitely see a food theme recurring here. The pizza in Italia is some of the freshest and tastiest I’ve ever had! My all-time favorite has to be Gusta Pizza, located in Santo Spirito on Via Maggio, 46/r. Fun fact, they also have another place owned by the same people right next to La Carraia’s original location called Pizzeria Riva D’Arno on Lungarno Soderini, 7/r. Try their margherita pizza (and ask for it with pesto!) and prepare to have your life changed

Favorite Museum

The city of Firenze is the home to so much Renaissance history and masterpieces. From Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Donatello just to name a few…the museums filled with their  are incredible. My all-time favorite has to be the Uffizi Gallery located in Piazzale degli Uffizi, 6. Spend a few hours walking through the different galleries and get some amazing views of Piazza della Signoria and the Ponte Vecchio.

Favorite View

Getting a beautiful overlook or view from the top of a city is always crucial for me. I love being able to see everything at once and take in the settings around me. My absolutely favorite view of the city is from Piazzale Michelangelo. There are always even better views once you hike up a little further to San Miniato al Monte, but overall going up here at least once is completely necessary!

Favorite Restaurant

Last, but not least…more food! While there are so many delicious restaurants here in Firenze, the one I love the most for the food, the prices, and the charm is Osteria Santo Spirito located in Piazza Santo Spirito, 16/r. There are so many delicious dishes I can recommend…their zucchini risotto, cheese gnocchi, or traditional pappa al pomodoro (tomato bread soup) and ribollita (Tuscan bread and vegetable soup).

Overall, Firenze is an amazing, beautiful, and charming city that you must, I repeat MUST see in your lifetime. Once you set your eyes on this town, you will be enamored. Hopefully you’ll make your way over here soon, because you will certainly not regret it!

Con amore,

Allie