Studying Away: Florence Edition
My spring 2022 study away experience
In spring 2022, I got the incredible opportunity to study away at NYU’s global academic center in Florence, Italy! It was a dream come true. I had been longing to study in Florence for about four years. And now I cherish every moment I spent in Italy. While living abroad was definitely a new experience, here’s what my day-to-day was like while I lived in Florence!
At NYU Florence, there are on-campus and off-campus accommodations. However, upper-level students can live off campus. So I lived on Via Ricasoli. Our apartment was about two blocks from the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, which is the official name of the Florence Duomo! I saw the Duomo every day, and I lived in one of the coolest parts of the city.
I lived in a second-floor apartment with eight girls total on Via Ricasoli. There were doubles, triples, and singles on our floor. We all shared a small common space and a kitchen.
NYU Florence is one of the most beautiful academic centers I’ve ever seen. There is a large emphasis on sustainability on and around campus. The NYU Florence garden supplies fresh fruits and vegetables for the on-campus dining hall. Both faculty and students volunteer at the community garden to learn about sustainability and food. In addition to a large lemon grove, there are many places to study outdoors. For leisure, there is a basketball court and an outdoor amphitheater as well as gardens for walking around and enjoying the weather.
There are many buildings situated across campus that include a mix of residential, administrative, and academic buildings as well as one dining hall. There is a student health center, meditation room, and other multipurpose rooms across campus. The coolest part of the NYU Florence academic center is that Villa La Pietra is a registered house museum. It contains artifacts from the original owner, Sir Harold Acton and his family, who entertained distinguished guests such as Winston Churchill and Princess Diana there. Acton donated the villa and all its artifacts to New York University, and the center keeps it up and running. Students can volunteer and learn about the museum, learn how to preserve artifacts, update the museum database, and create exhibitions.
The Office of Student Life sends weekly emails where students can sign up to attend activities and trips throughout the week all across Florence and the greater part of Italy. We took trips to Rome, Cinque Terre, and more. There are also biweekly cooking classes, movie nights, and opera visits, among others. There are also clubs that students can join to create a community, such as the Business Club, Fashion Club, or Cooking Club. While studying abroad, I volunteered at the Office of Student Life as a social media intern.
Diversity and inclusion are a big part of NYU Florence. Each semester, two Global Equity Fellows host events involving themes around social justice, race theory, gender studies, and more. In addition, the NYU Florence Office of Student Life organizes events with prominent figures such as new media artist and professor Justin Randolph Thompson. Professor Thompson initiated Florence Black History Month and inspired organizations around Italy to do the same to unearth the history of Black Italians.
I studied Italian for about three years before going to Italy since I knew I always wanted to study abroad there. I took a placement test and was placed in Italian II at NYU Florence. However, every student is enrolled in an Italian language class if they are not a native user. These classes were useful when we needed to communicate, and it was great practice to then go out into the country and use what we learned! The stakes are low, and there’s no pressure since many people who know English live in tourist-heavy areas.
While away, students are encouraged to take trips around the country or in Europe, which is why NYU Florence sponsors trips to Rome, Cinque Terre, and other areas! The Cinque Terre trip was my favorite. We went hiking and ended with a dip in the ocean. We tried the famous trofie al pesto and tons of gelato.
However, many students take trips on their own with some friends. For example, my friends and I went to Sicily (Palermo), Milan, Venice, Arezzo, Rome, and so many other places around Italy. The best part about traveling around Europe is how easy transportation from one place to another is. The trains are reliable and cheap, and so are plane tickets. My friend and I spent 40 Euro each on plane tickets to Sicily and back! It is budget-friendly, and I highly recommend planning out trips to places you would love to visit.
Wherever you choose to go in the world, I highly recommend making the most of it by putting yourself out there and being open to any opportunity that presents itself to you. My study abroad experience was really a dream come true, and I will cherish these memories for the rest of my life!