My name is Michelle, and I’m one of the study abroad liaisons in Florence with my friend Caitlyn. I’m a sophomore co-concentrating in Finance & Data Science, and possibly a minor.. who knows? I love learning languages so maybe I’ll pick up a new one. I’m currently taking Operations Management, Extensive Italian, Financial Accounting, and Cultures & Contexts this semester (which has honestly been so chill [thank god]). If you’re thinking about a Stern class to take while you’re abroad, I highly recommend Ops! A super interesting class that teaches you valuable analytical skills - but avoid if you’re not a math person! And take FA/Cultures & Contexts abroad...definitely easier than in New York.
Anyways, a little over half of the semester has gone by now, and I realize a lot has changed. At first, living in a new country was a little hectic and anxiety-inducing since I had never been to Europe before. I missed my family, my friends, familiarity, English, and my BED. But, I met a lot of nice people, settled into my classes, got a routine going, and even learned how to cook a little bit (upgraded my cooking game from toast to a mean chicken stir fry). Getting situated in a new country is not as scary or difficult as it seems, and overall I think studying abroad is a really rewarding experience in terms of both academic and personal development. You get to take classes while traveling with your friends around Europe before you even turn 21, and learn how to handle/take care of yourself *for real* - all while being halfway across the world from home. Sounds pretty crazy (but surreal) to me.
Florence is a very different change of pace & scenery from New York. There are no big, tall, modern-looking skyscrapers but instead ornate colorful buildings with a boatload of history behind them. The city gives very cozy, cute, small town vibes - it’s like the perfect mix of city life with the Duomo and famous art galleries and such, but it’s also super close to quiet Tuscan towns that are straight out of a picture book. Rolling hills, clear skies, the whole nine. If you ever feel overwhelmed and want to escape the tourists, you don’t need to go far. And the food… if you think you’ve had good pizza before this, you need to come to Italy. I’m not joking about the food, you will literally eat so much in Florence. The locals are nice, even if your Italian is embarrassingly horrible like mine, and very welcoming to international students. Also a plus - it’s almost always warm & sunny here. Oh and, did I mention the food?
In terms of traveling, I’ve gone to some places within and outside of Italy - I went to Rome, Venice, San Gimignano, Amalfi Coast, Croatia, and Oktoberfest in Germany. After midterms, it was finally fall break and I had an amazing week. I went to Switzerland, Amsterdam, and Sweden. I really loved all three places and recommend them to anyone. However, Switzerland by far stood out to me since I’m an avid hiker and I went hiking up the Swiss Alps. It was the craziest, most beautiful, jaw-dropping, take your breath away experience I’ve probably ever had in my life. The mountains looked unreal, like the Paramount logo. I didn’t think things like that actually existed in real life. (If you don’t like hiking, you can take a cable car up too - I would still recommend that because the view was so insane). And Amsterdam/Stockholm both have an amazing food scene… I ate too much in both cities. Amsterdam has a great nightlife scene, since a lot of EDM/DJ’s are from there. Sweden is also one of the happiest countries on earth apparently, and I could easily believe that. Everyone there is so chill, easy-going, and seems to be generally happy right where they are. :-)
OK, I think that’s all I have for now. I hope you enjoyed reading about my time in Florence so far! If you have any questions about Florence, studying abroad, life, or puppies, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or add me on Facebook. Ciao!