Florence: A Home Away From Home

By Kaylee Holt, MA 2015-16

When you are a student in Florence it can be easy to treat your time here as a vacation. Whether you are here for a month, four months, a year, or four years, life abroad can be difficult. Once you pass the honeymoon phase it is easy to start feeling homesick or worn out from traveling every weekend. Study abroad is not just a vacation so my advice to current and future students is don’t treat your time abroad that way.

Find your rhythm in Florence. Make yourself at home. Florence is a small and quaint city, which often feels crowded with hordes of tourists but it has many hidden gems. Here are a few tips to make Florence more than just your long-term vacation destination.

  1. Don’t travel every single weekend. Florence has so much to offer from festivals to beautiful parks and piazzas! Stay in the city and explore a bit, it would be a shame to leave Florence having only seen it between walks to class and the grocery store.
  2. Find a coffee shop or bakery or restaurant and frequent it. My best friend and I have a weekly ritual of going to our favorite American bakery every Tuesday after class for bagels and coffee. We take that time to sit down, have a little taste of home, and unwind from the stress of the beginning of each week.
  3. Take walks! For the first semester of my time here, I had only walked towards one direction of the city. I never went past my apartment and what a shame that was! At the beginning of this semester I decided to stop watching Netflix and get out and explore the part of the city I never had. I found this beautiful park that I didn’t know existed and I spent a peaceful sunny day there. It was so therapeutic!
  4. Create a routine. Back home you probably have a daily routine throughout the week so you should do the same thing here! That is probably the easiest way to make Florence feel familiar. Sure, you should get out and do spontaneous things but if you are used to having a cup of tea while reading a book at 5pm everyday then why shouldn’t you do that here!
  5. Join a gym or yoga studio, or continue your hobbies here in Florence. If working out and being active is your thing then you should join one of the many gyms or yoga studios that offer students discounts around Florence. If painting or playing an instrument is your thing then visit a studio or take a music class. It is so easy to continue doing what you love to do here, you just have to take it upon yourself to do a little searching.
  6. Find people who make you feel at home and comfortable. Whether it be locals or fellow students, make friends because it makes your time abroad so much more sentimental and worthwhile. The first time I studied abroad I met a group of people that are like family to me. They made my time so incredible and will always hold a place in my heart. Now that I am abroad for a second time I have met a few people who I know will be in my life forever, they have made this experience unforgettable and most importantly, they make me feel at home every day that I am here.

Those are a few things that I think are so important to know when you are planning on studying abroad! Don’t waste your time here worrying about home. Embrace your surroundings and take it all in every single day. You won’t regret it!

Photo by Meredith Pollock

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