Ciao da Firenze! My name is Amy Elgin and I am the USWIB study abroad liaison for NYU Florence. I am a Junior studying Marketing and Economics. I chose Florence for two main reasons: 1) They offer Stern courses in addition to CAS Econ courses and 2) Italian food
After only two weeks here, Florence is already starting to feel like home. I always compare every city to New York, but life and school are very different here. I live in an NYU owned apartment downtown with seven other students. The upperclassmen tend to live in apartments while the LSP freshmen live in dorms on campus. We are about a five-minute walk from the Duomo and right in the heart of some of the best restaurants and shopping Florence has to offer. NYU’s campus is located about one mile outside of the city center, so we take a local bus to get to campus. Italians are known to be very laid back and the transportation system is the embodiment of that. There is a bus schedule, but it is really just for show, as buses come and go when they please. Everyone always has to make sure they leave in plenty of time to get to class!
Campus is absolutely beautiful. Located on a 60-acre estate, NYU Florence is covered with olive trees and villas. It is unique to have a closed off campus since that does not exist in NYC. In addition to its physical beauty, NYU Florence is rich in history. Villa la Pietra houses an extensive art collection built by the Acton family and left to NYU in 1994. The gardens behind the villa are the second largest in Florence, only behind the Boboli gardens of the Medici’s Pitti Palace. Prince Charles and Princess Diana even visited here! I am lucky enough to have a class in Villa la Pietra and this is the breathtaking view from my classroom.
With views like this it is a little harder than usual to pay attention in three hour classes (most classes only meet once a week for a longer period of time), but the courses at NYU Florence are very unique and applied to the culture. All students are required to take Italian. In addition, I am taking an Italian History course, an Economics course on the European Union, and a Fashion Marketing course. A lot of the classes include site visits within Florence and some even include overnight field trips like my fashion class which is traveling to Milan next weekend! NYU Florence also has extensive programing such as evening lectures, wellness activities like yoga, and immersion activities including trips to Chianti, Venice, and Cinque Terre.
Florence is a great city to study in for so many different reasons. The Italian culture is certainly different, but one that is warm and welcoming. The food is amazing as I know first hand from the many, many types of gelato and pasta I have already tried. There is also great shopping both in traditional stores and open markets such as the San Lorenzo Leather market and the Le Cascine Tuesday Market. There is plenty of sight-seeing to do within Florence, as the birthplace of the Renaissance. Just walking home from school you can pass by the Accademia with Michelangelo’s David or the Uffizi gallery. Florence is also the center of Tuscany which makes day trips to the surrounding towns in Italy very easy by train. Here is a picture from my day trip to the leaning tower of Pisa.
This past weekend I was also lucky enough to travel to the Amalfi coast. Add this destination to your bucket list right now if it is not on there already. We spent one day relaxing on the pristine beaches of Positano with the picturesque stacked houses in the background. The next day, we took a boat tour to the island of Capri (where the Kardashians and Pretty Little Liars cast happened to be vacationing at the time!) and got to experience the blue grotto and views from Mt. Solaro. On our way home, we visited Pompeii for a history lesson in Roman civilization and culture. It was an amazing weekend and a trip I would definitely recommend.
If the last two weeks are any indication, I think this is going to be a fabulous semester. Wishing all of the USWIB ladies in New York and abroad a wonderful semester as well!