Walking down cobblestone streets under the shade of buildings older than the United States was inevitably in my daily routine. Walking to class often entailed encounters with street artists, persuasive leather vendors and musicians. Between classes, a quick stop for a panini was a must, while still saving room for the night’s pizza and pasta dinner.
By studying abroad, I was able to take courses I would otherwise take at UTC while also learning why the Renaissance is called the Renaissance and how Italians named America. The rich history Florence enriched me with was incomparable to anything I have experienced before, and I would have missed many of these things if it weren’t for my knowledgeable Italian professors.The history was there, and studying abroad made me appreciate these small things even more as opposed to traveling as a tourist later on in life. Studying abroad in Florence called for classes in museums or markets, as well as walking through ‘piazzas’ and along ‘palazzos’ to get there. Having had the chance to explore the city during class made my educational experience in Italy so much better.
I directly applied to the Lorenzo de Medici Italian Institute knowing I wanted to study somewhere in Italy. This institute offers programs in Florence and in the Tuscany countryside, and I ultimately decided on Florence seeing it had a greater selection of classes and there was just more to do in the city. Here, I took general education courses and classes that pertain to my major and minor. UTC’s advisors
were helpful in finding this specific program; LdM was relatively cheaper and personally more convenient. I applied on my own, but an LdM coordinator was available to help through the whole process which was simple. This specific program offers certifications, month-long Winter and Summer courses as well as Fall and Spring Semesters. I decided to brave the cold European winter months and applied for the Spring semester my sophomore year. Housing was decided by the program in apartments among the locals. These apartments were the epitome of Italian city housing: small yet charming. I was lucky enough to have the view of the Arno river and to have lived with roommates who were overall adventurous — which is a characteristic every student should have: a sense of adventure and curiosity. With them and my boyfriend, I traveled and explored Tuscany’s city and its outskirts, whether it was for a day trip to a country-side town or a wine tour in the Tuscan vineyards. I was also able to escape the city over our long weekends and travel by train to other parts of Italy such as Pisa, Venice, Verona, Amalfi and many more. Other countries were accessible seeing Italy is centrally located in Southern Europe. With that, I seized the opportunity to take a fairly quick flight to other cities — London and Paris being my
Italy’s allure was that it had the best pizza and pasta at every corner accompanied by a glass of Tuscan wine. Each restaurant had welcoming staff, many of which were family-owned. Grocery stores were also within a five minute walking distance, so home cooked meals were a big money saver.
I would not trade the experience, memories, and friendship throughout my three months for anything. It not only boosted my confidence seeing I had to speak and mingle alongside natives, but also as an explorer. I thoroughly enjoyed trying some of the best food in the world and getting to aimlessly walk around parks and cities. Overall, Florence was the perfect place to study due to the integration of
English language among Italian culture which makes it easy for first time travelers. It is an incredibly walkable city that has Renaissance history around every corner brought out by museums or impeccable art galleries.
Cassandra Castillo (BA Communication) spent Spring 2022 studying abroad in Florence, Italy through a direct enroll at LdM. Cassandra had the following to say about studying abroad, “Living in Europe at 20 was the beginning of a new adventurous chapter in my life full of ambition and zeal. Studying abroad has that effect and you will regret not having seized that opportunity.”
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