All photos credited to Danny dePasquale.
When coming home from study abroad and reuniting with all your friends back home, there are a few questions you will hear:
- “OMG how was is it?”
- “What was your favorite city?”
- “Did you love it?”
They really are some of the hardest questions to answer. How do you describe your four months abroad? It was amazing, I loved every city. Of course, I loved living in Europe and traveling for four months.
I went back to my home university this past weekend and I felt bad for my friends that had to constantly listen to me talk about abroad, but right now it is the only thing I want to talk about.
My first week back home has been a mix of feelings. Filled with jet lag, sadness, happiness and shock. If you think culture shock going to Europe is bad, just imagine it when you come back home. I was amazed by the fact that I could get tap water without judgment and that separate checks were a reality once again.
The fact that if I want to go anywhere I have to drive because I can no longer leave my apartment and cross the Ponte Vecchio to run errands. It is a completely different lifestyle in Europe and I was lucky enough to experience it for the past four months.
For those of you lucky enough to still be there: Enjoy every waking second of it. Not many people were as fortunate as we were to be able to study abroad. And to those of you who are about to leave for the summer, you are about to have the best experience of your life.
You may come home slightly broke and slightly fatter, but you’ll come home with more experiences and stories that you could ever imagine.
By Virginia Fay, Michelle Hayman and Sara Wiseman
- …Does that look a little small?
- Why are his hands so massive?
- Seriously, they’re like baseball gloves.
- How the eff long did this take?
- I’m exhausted just looking at this.
- I don’t have enough patience to make a sandwich let alone carve something out of stone.
- My ex-boyfriend looks kind of like him?
- …Right? He looks like that, right?
- It was created in 1501? When was that?
- Did they just see me take that photo?
- Oh, crap! They saw me.
- Who made this?
- Michelangelo. Didn’t he do the Mona Lisa too?
- Wait, no. That was in the “DaVinci Code” = Obviously DaVinci
- Can we talk about Tom Hanks’ hair in that movie? Disgusting.
- But, no, this guy did the Sistine Chapel.
- God, isn’t it so annoying when they shush you in there?
- Like, your shushes are louder than any conversation I was having. Rude.
- Look at how interested this old guy is in the David. So cultured.
- He probably doesn’t know anything about art and needs to relax.
- Boy, David looks kind of hot and bothered doesn’t he?
- What do you think David’s diet was?
- Straight protein?
- I bet he would have loved Chipotle, given the opportunity.
- God, I want Chipotle.
- I should probably at least get a pizza instead.
- David could totally put away a lot of pizza, with that size.
- If I Instagram the picture I took, will the authorities find out somehow?
- You can’t get retroactively banned from a museum, can you?
- What else is even in this museum?
Notte Bianca (or White Night, for you English speaking folks) has been a tradition in Florence for the past five years. Taking place on the last day of April every year, the city of Florence turns into a whole other world. The streets are filled with art and performances, the museums are open late night and all the bars and clubs are opened later.
The theme for Notte Bianca this year was “The City Goes On.” According to Notte Bianca’s website, “This is the theme of the fifth edition of the Notte Bianca of Florence, that aims at developing the model of a fascinating and high-value event. We will experience a limitless city, reinterpreting the avant-garde vision of the group of radical architects active in Florence at the end of the sixties, which marked a significant page of culture in the XX century. “
In the street you could find musical performances, art shows and in Piazza Signoria there was a laser show infused with dub-step. There was a hay maze to run through is Santa Croce and you could go see the David at 3 a.m.
It was a night that really brought the people of Florence and the abroad students together. Everyone came out for the festivities and partied their way through the night!
You’ve jumped in front of the Eiffel Tower. You’ve prosted with a beer stein in Munich. You’ve “held up” the Leaning Tower of Pisa. You’ve captured all of the biggest moments of your trip, and you have the Instagrams to prove it.
But once you get home, you might start wishing you would have documented the less obvious things that made your time abroad so awesome. Here are some ideas to keep in mind:
Your daily route.
When it’s raining and you’re already five minutes late for class, it’s pretty easy to take the fact that you’re walking past the Duomo for granted. But when you’re back on campus in the US, you’ll wish that you could be strolling by world famous landmarks again. Pick a day when you’re not in a hurry and video your typical route around the city.
All of the restaurants you eat in.
There are some restaurants that are so good that the thought of forgetting them is unfathomable (here’s looking at you, Pino’s Sandwiches). But there are others that you’ll simply stumble upon when you’re out exploring. Don’t be left wondering what the name of that awesome hole-in-the-wall pizza place was in Siena. Every time you eat somewhere, write down the name of the restaurant and what you ordered. Bonus: you’ll be able to give fantastic recommendations to your friends when they travel.
The impossibly small shower, the burner that lights itself on fire, and the ladder that you use as a makeshift drying rack might drive you absolutely crazy now, but they will all seem like charming quirks in retrospect. So make sure that you capture them on film. If nothing else, you’ll have great visual aids when you tell everyone how you “roughed it” in Europe.
Pictures that you can’t find on Google Images.
While it’s great to take your very own picture of an iconic place or landmark, chances are you could find a nearly identical photo online. Don’t forget to capture the little things, like overly friendly pigeons or interesting graffiti. And if you’re skilled in the art of creeper photos, adorable elderly couples and fashionable children are great too.
Pictures by yourself.
You’re always going to cherish the photos of you and the amazing people that you meet in Europe. Just remember that having pictures by yourself is important too. Studying abroad is a meaningful experience, and you’ll be glad that you have photos that represent your unique and personal adventure.
Hey party people of Florence, who’s looking to switch up their Tuesday night routine? Well Be-bop is the place to check out to get a different vibe of the city.
Every Tuesday you’re transported back to the magical time of the 60’s with their very own Beatles cover band! No matter what song you wanted to hear they knew it and the whole crowd would be singing right along too. From “Hey Jude” to “She Loves You,” the band was killing it and the audience was having a great time. With everyone dancing and singing together, you can really feel the happiness that the music gives off. Song after song, everyone was dancing the night away. Be-bop (located on Via Dei Servi 76) is a classic little bar with tables everywhere to enjoy the music and drinks!
Make sure you get there early (around 10:30 p.m.) because tables are taken super fast! But if you stay at Be-bop till about 1:30 a.m. the floor begins to clear out and that’s when the real dancing can start! It felt like the scene from “Across the Universe” when they’re dancing at the high school gymnasium.
A total TBT and with inexpensive drinks there was really nothing more to ask for! So next Tuesday when you’re debating where to go before Twice, check out Be-bop! I can assure you it’s going to be a great night!
Now that your Tuesday night is covered, let’s move onto to Wednesday! Salamanca has live music every Wednesday night. Playing covers of all the popular American songs of today and even some Italian and Spanish songs, you can bet that everyone is up and dancing. Drink menu is also reasonably inexpensive and they have a wide array to pick from!
My program is a huge fan of Salamanca and we always have a good time when we go out there! It’s never a question of what to do on Wednesday’s night, we know the party at Salamanca is the place to be! Located on Via Ghibellina 80, make sure you check this out! Salamanca is also a Mexican restaurant so it’s a great option to get a late dinner followed by a night fun and dancing.
If you ever want to transport yourself back to the times of jazz clubs and the jitterbug, make sure you check out La Cite in Santo Spirito. Every night after 10 p.m. you are transported back to a jazz club where swing dancing is the norm. If you’re into that scene or looking for something new to do you must check this place out!
It’s a little small so make sure to get there early but the atmosphere is absolutely amazing. It’s a whole other world in that bar and definitely something everyone should check out with their remaining weeks in Florence!
So party people, you now have some new options to add into your usual going out routine. Check them out and get to see a difference side of Florence that you have yet to experience!
It’s that time of the semester again, as final exams start creeping up and the study abroad experience is winding down. As difficult as it may seem to fit in all of your last hoorahs into your semester while cramming for finals, it can be done.
Here are some tips to balance studying for class and enjoying every last moment abroad!
1) Start early
There is nothing worse than leaving studying for the last minute. Not only will you be more stressed, but you won’t be able to enjoy your last days abroad as much. Start studying early to avoid unnecessary stress, and you’ll be able to spend more time in your abroad city than staring at your class notes!
2) Make a list
Once you realize you’re on a limited time schedule, the inevitable thoughts of, “But I still haven’t done (insert something on your abroad to-do list here) yet!” It makes it much easier to write out a daily schedule of what to fit in each day so that you can better organize your studying priorities with abroad activities.
3) Study somewhere memorable
Why study in the library or your dorm when you can be out in a piazza or on the beach? Take your books and move your studying to somewhere much more exciting. How many times are you going to be able to say you studied for art history final on the steps of the Duomo in Florence?
4) Take breaks
Break up the monotony of studying by taking walks around your city. It is a guaranteed way to clear your head before hitting the books again while doing some final exploring at the same time.
Speaking of doing two things at once, studying while exploring doesn’t hurt either! Carry around flashcards or some notes to look at while walking. This way you don’t have to feel guilty when spending time outside since you will be taking your work with you.
6) Go out to dinner
You may have been on a budget since you first stepped off the plane, but now is the time to splurge a little bit. After a day of studying, go out to dinner at one of your favorite restaurants. You can relax while saying goodbye to that awesome paella you’ve been devouring since February.
7) Reward yourself
Make up goals to get through your studying. For example, promise yourself to study a chapter or two and rewarding yourself with some gelato. It will definitely make the studying go by faster!
8) Try something new
As sad as it is that your time abroad is limited, make sure to go to places and try new experiences before you go! You don’t want to leave regretting that you never went to that park you’ve been meaning to go to, so check it out now! If you’re worried about not studying enough, check out point number three or five and take your work with you!
9) Talk about it
If you’re getting anxious about leaving so soon and having to spend your time studying, you’re not alone. Meet up with friends and talk about all the memories you made (and if some of them are in your classes, make a study group to make the time more entertaining).
10) Soak it in
These last few months probably feel like a blur and while you feel like you never want to leave, it will be good to be home. Take it all in and reflect on all the good times you had and amazing memories that will stay with you forever. So reflect, relax and study hard, but most importantly, make the best of your last weeks abroad!