Five things I’ve learned so far studying abroad in Florence, Italy by Kalie Henderson

After only a month of living in Florence, I have learned so much about my host city and the norms of studying abroad. Here are five things I have learned so far while studying abroad that have helped me adapt and immerse myself in a new culture!

  1. Attempting to speak your host country’s language goes a long way!

I came into this program knowing very little Italian other than some common greetings and how to say thank you. By being here I have picked up on a lot more and just by using my small vocabulary it goes a long way! I have noticed how much the locals appreciate it when you greet them in Italian or attempt to speak the language. Just by knowing a few words, it has helped me immerse myself into the culture and gain confidence while speaking a new language!

  1. Dress up! 

 

Here in Europe, everyone tends to dress up. Since being here, I have tried to dress up more even just for class or to grab a coffee. This is an easy way to blend in with the locals and a fun way to experiment with new trends! By putting on a nice outfit, I already feel more motivated and ready for the day.

 

  1. Document your experiences 

 

As someone who enjoys taking pictures and filming parts of my life (no wonder I am studying film), I knew I would document my time here in Italy. Although you want to be 100% present, don’t forget to journal about your experiences and take tons of pictures! Our program and professors had recommended that we got a travel journal to document our semester. Taking time to write about my study abroad experience has been one of my favorite ways to capture my reactions / feelings through this time.

 

  1. Take advantage of the train for day trips 

 

One of my favorite things about studying abroad has been the convenience of the train and taking day trips around Italy. So far I have traveled to Venice, Siena and Rome – and I am going to Milan this weekend. You will be surprised how much you can do and see in a day! Before my semester started, I was overwhelmed with the idea of traveling outside my host country most weekends because I knew that could be typical for abroad students. After being here for a month, I’ve found that taking day trips to explore my host country and then planning a few bigger trips outside of Italy works best for me. Book those day trips! 

  1. Balancing school work and fun

 

When I first arrived in Florence, I was overwhelmed with how I was going to balance my academics while exploring a new country and culture. It is absolutely possible to enjoy all studying abroad has to offer while still excelling in school. My main tip is to find a balanced routine for your weekdays and use your weekends to explore new countries and your host city. Finding new cafes and different study spots will also keep you motivated to complete assignments while still exploring your host city!