Now that I’ve been living in Italy for nearly 7 weeks, I am going to provide all of you with a guide to studying in Florence! This blog post will tell you the ins and outs to living like a true Florentine and offer advice to make the process of studying abroad go as smooth as possible. To make this post more effective, I reached out to friends back home in the States and had them send me a few questions they might have about studying in Florence or abroad in general. I’ve grouped questions together based on their relevance to make following along as easy as possible. This is just Part 2 of this string of Q&A posts, so be sure to check out Part 1 when you get the chance! Hope this helps!
How are your courses set up?
So far I’ve really been enjoying my classes. All classes besides my Italian course meet just once per week in a 3 hour lecture. My Italian class is held 3 times per week, with each course about an hour and a half. They make for long days occasionally but overall is a great system to maximizing your experience abroad. The classes are very insightful and interactive, and many of the classes involve “field studies” where the class will go somewhere around Florence during a half of the period that relates to the material. For example, in Renaissance Art History, my professor was giving a lecture on one of the oldest churches in Florence, San Miniato al Monte. It was truly fascinating and I was loving learning about the history behind it. Then, our professor threw on his jacket and said, “Alright class, let’s go visit it!” It was quite a crazy realization, as it was one of my first weeks in Florence and the lecture felt like anything you would be taking back home, but then when the slides were over, we actually had the ability to get up and see it for ourselves. So much of the history learned in school is so distant from us with a lot of our curriculum taking place in Europe. Now, classes studying history can just get up and study it themselves! It was really a cool moment.
Are there opportunities to meet other students in the program?
Yes! CAPA does a great job of easing the process of meeting new people. The very first weekend, they offer opportunities on both Saturday and Sunday to meet other people in the program. They continue to update students on events they run, whether it be a day hike, a pasta-making class, a community service project, or anything else. The staff is really nice and go out of their way to make you feel comfortable.
Do you need to have a cell phone data plan while abroad? Is it reliable?
CAPA does in fact require students to have a data plan on their cell phones while enrolled. This is mostly a safety precaution, as they want to be able to reach you as soon as possible in case of an emergency. It is also just smart in general to have the ability to access maps, look things up, and feel a bit safer walking around the city and elsewhere in Europe.
As far as options go, there are primarily two options for cell phone plans while studying abroad.
- Use an American cell service’s international plan
- Get a SIM card in Italy
Both options work fine and it’s really just a matter of preference. I left Verizon and opted for T-Mobile’s International Mobile One plan which allowed me to keep an American number and use unlimited data all across Europe. (This was a bit cheaper than Verizon’s offering)
However, many students opted to buy a SIM card here, typical with the company TIM or Vodaphone. These options work fine and are probably a bit cheaper, but just know you won’t have any data access until you go to the store!!