Ciao a tutti, USWIB! My name is Caitlyn Lubas and I'm one of the study abroad liaisons in Florence, alongside my close friend Michelle who you'll be meeting in next week's blog post. I'm a sophomore studying Data Science and Marketing... or Operations... or Global Business... (still deliberating on my co-concentration). At NYU Florence, I'm taking Operations Management, Financial Accounting, Italian Politics, and an Intensive Italian language class – which is really paying off perchè adesso posso parlare italiano molto bene (because now I can speak Italian very well)!
Living in Florence has been a definite change of pace compared with the hustle and bustle of a booming metropolis like New York City – but although I'm a city girl through and through, Florence has won a special place in my heart with its incredible Renaissance art, stunning architecture, relaxed way of life, and its unbelievably delicious food!
At NYU Florence, the campus is one of the main reasons everyone should consider studying abroad here – it's absolutely GORGEOUS, since it's an old Italian villa with beautiful gardens and incredible views of the city. Also, you might get lucky with your housing assignment and get to live mere steps away from the Duomo, one of the most famous cathedrals in the world!
Florence is the perfect place to study abroad not only because of what the amazing city itself has to offer, but because of its location. Being in the center of the beautiful countryside region of Tuscany means that even bus rides and train rides turn into picturesque journeys with rolling green hills and adorable countryside villas zipping past your window. Tuscany is a region within reach of so many amazing Italian cities that are perfect for day trips, like Pisa, Siena, Bologna, San Gimignano (home to the best gelateria in the world!), Verona, Milan, Venice, Rome, and so many more. Other perfect weekend trip destinations like the Amalfi Coast, Switzerland, Croatia, Slovenia, and Austria are only an overnight bus ride away. And with major airports all within reach via high speed trains, Italy is the perfect starting point for jet-setting all across Europe throughout the semester.
This semester, I really wanted to prioritize travel and cultural immersion and so far I think I've been successful with these goals! So far, I've been to Croatia, Germany, England, Slovenia, Poland, and Malta, and I'm currently traveling to Spain, Sweden, and Denmark for my fall break! Having an intense travel schedule serves as a great life lesson since I've learned how to expertly budget my time and I've developed a greater appreciation for European history and culture after visiting all these amazing places.
I've also explored a lot of Italy including Cinque Terre, Amalfi Coast, Siena, San Gimignano, Milan, Rome, Perugia, and Verona. Pro tip: try to organize your class schedule with classes in the mornings so you have mostly free days where you can take day trips around Italy!
NYU Florence does a great job of organizing free trips throughout the semester so students have opportunities to see different parts of the country as well as experience the culture of Italy through free programs like Italian cooking classes, nights out at the opera, and traditional Florentine plate-painting classes.
With midterms now finished (thank god), I can hardly believe the semester is half over already. I couldn't recommend Florence more highly and study abroad, no matter where, is definitely an invaluable experience that I wouldn't trade for anything. The challenges you face abroad help you grow so much and prompt you to learn a lot about yourself as a person, and you'll inevitably develop greater cultural competency and heightened appreciation for history when you're surrounded by it everywhere you go in Europe.
If you are studying abroad in Florence next semester, considering study abroad in the future, or just want to know more about traveling around Europe in general, feel free to reach out to me on Facebook or by email at email@example.com! Ci vediamo dopo (see you later)!