Tag Archives: Study Abroad Florence

The 9 People You’ll Meet While Studying Abroad

  1. The dirty vagabond
    When some people go abroad, they take gypsy to a whole other level. The true dirty gypsy stops showering. You have to remind them to put on deodorant. Or buy deodorant to begin with. Clean laundry? What’s that? I understand letting go and becoming one with the culture but, if you’re going to take it that literally, stand at least 10 feet away from me. You smell.
  2. The too-old-be-here promoter
    When you go abroad, you are most likely given a list of promoters that can get you into clubs for free/VIP. These promoters will be your nightlife spirit guides, and you will develop a strong and very special bond with them. This bond sometimes goes too far, and you really have to put into perspective that these guys are like 40 and still texting you to hang out. Eek.
  3. The complainer
    “UGGGGGGGGGGGHH I absolutely HATE flying. I also hate driving. And walking. Ugh traveling is HARD. And I would rest on this bed, but I saw an ant on it…I think. Disgusting. So there’s no air conditioning in here either? What is this place?!?!?!?!?!” Gurrrrrrrrrl WHY are you traveling? Go back to America, please. Ciao.
  4. The sketchy one
    This is the friend that never ends up with the group at the end of the night. He/she never really seems to sleep at home…or sleep at all. One second you’ll be dancing with them at the club, and the next second they’re gone. They never tell you the exact rundown of their night. Always a lot of grey areas that don’t make sense. Note: the sketchy one may also be the drunk (see below).
  5. The drunk
    These are the ones who find that the best “cultural activities” are the kinds that involve mass amounts of alcohol. They usually start drinking as soon as they wake up (to the Spain study abroaders – carajillos – espresso with rum; these will sometimes save your life). They are the ones slurring their words in class wearing their clothes from the night before. They are also the most fun….until they vomit on you in a museum.
  6. The one awkward roommate
    You and your friends end up with a sick apartment. You love each other and many amazing nights are shared in your new home. All is good even though there’s one rando thrown in there. At first, they seem pretty cool! 5 days later, said rando is actually studying for your “wine tasting 101” exams, and shooting you dirty looks when you have pregames at the apartment. 5 days after that, you overhear said rando telling his/her friends how much they hate you/how they’re probably plotting your death.
  7. The camp friend
    This is usually the camp friend of your friend from home or college. Camp friend and you will most likely be set up so you can become roomies and then besties. The camp friend is always the one you’ve heard crazy stories about throughout college, and that will definitely live up those expectations while abroad. Camp Tanawanda was #cray, why shouldn’t your semester abroad be?
  8. The hot local
    The hot local is a unicorn that one must search for far and wide to slay during your time abroad. Hard to find, but usually hidden in the local bars/gyms of your abroad city, this unicorn will sweep you off your feet with their sexy accents, perfect smiles, and their cute misuse of the English language. Keep in mind, some cities have more hot locals than others. Don’t let it get you down. Stay persistent. You will find your Italian prince soon. And if all else fails, you will always have pizza.

  9. The creepy local
    At first, he seems like a cute, harmless guy at the bar that you should probably consider making out with. One makeout and one Facebook friend request later, and you’ll be getting “Hey QT ;P” messages about four times a day. What even is a “;P”? Who winks and smiles at the same time? I guess the creepy local does. There will be lapses of judgment where you confuse creepy local for hot local, and you’ll accidentally go for dinner or drinks with him. Once again, don’t let it get you down. Italian prince will come with patience.

Entertaining Abroad: What to Do When Your Family Comes to Visit

It’s mid semester, and while you’re having the time of your life, you can’t help but realize your wallet has gotten incredibly thin and your diet consists mainly of Nutella and my favorite food group – carbs. Thank God there are reinforcements on their way! That’s right, your loving parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, etc. are flying transatlantic to see just how cultured you have become. You’re so excited to see them that you may have actually forgotten that you are going to be their European vacation host for a week or so. Below is a list of things to see & do while your family is in town that will keep everyone entertained.

  1. Take them on a walking tour. You’re practically an expert on your study abroad city at this point, which means having your family pay for a tour guide is completely unnecessary. If you do it right, this could take up the better part of day and your family will be impressed at how much you have already learned.
  2. Do a wine tasting. Arranging a wine tasting with your parents is an awesome way to spend time together when they visit. There are sure to be plenty of wine shops in the city that offer private tastings, but if you are close enough to a region like Tuscany, take the day and visit a nearby vineyard. Oftentimes these vineyards will offer tours followed by tastings and lunch. No matter what you choose, this is an awesome event for everyone – after all, the family that drinks vino together stays together, right?
  3. Rent Bikes! Depending on your city, results may vary. Some cities are much easier to bike in than others (the Florentines make it look like a cakewalk….but don’t be fooled). However, if you can manage it, renting bikes is another fun way to see the sights together. Alternatively, there are many companies that operate bike tours throughout the countryside, which offer a different way to get out of the city for the day and see a different part of the area.
  4. Visit all the museums & critical tourist locations. Chances are that no matter where you’re studying in Europe, There are “must see” places to hit before you leave. For example, you absolutely cannot visit Florence without climbing the Duomo or touring the Uffizi, and you know this will be on the family’s to-do list as well. Unless you’re a huge art history buff, one trip through may be enough for you. Why not wait it out until your family visits and hit those locations with them?
  5. Try every restaurant humanly possible. If you are anything like me, by the time your parents arrive you have already made a mental glossary of all the great (not to mention nowhere near within your budget) restaurants you want to try while you’re abroad. Now is the time to capitalize on your parents visit because once they’re gone, you go back to picking up the tab (sigh).
  6. Travel! If you happen to be studying in a city that your parents have already visited before, arrange day trips or weekend trips with them, and head to somewhere new. If you’re in Rome, check out Tivoli, Orvieto or Pompeii. If you’re in Florence, head to Pisa, Siena or Cinque Terre. Wherever you are, do some research and plan the perfect getaway.

Having your family visit you while you’re studying abroad is such a unique experience but sometimes, proves stressful when there’s pressure to entertain. As long as you plan a few key events around your grueling class schedule that most likely consists of courses titled like “Wine Appreciation” and “Food & Culture” you can be reassured that they are going to have a memorable trip.

7 Ways to Cure Homesickness

By Marlee Newman

So…you are studying abroad in a brand new city thousands of miles from home with a bunch of people you hardly know. Every interaction is a combination of butchered Italian pronunciations and over the top charades and perhaps the most difficult thing of all … there are no cheez-its available to you.

Studying abroad brings with it unbelievable experiences, unforgettable memories, and a LOT of carbs. However, sometimes between the long train rides and hostels with only one inconveniently placed outlet… you start to miss home. Next time you get that unsettled feeling or just start to crave pumpkin spice lattes, try out these tricks to prevent homesickness.

  1. Eat some gelato:

The natural solution to most issues, but especially while in Italy, have a big, heaping cone of gelato. Not in Italy? Anything sweet will do the trick. The point is to treat yourself and just take a break. I bet you’ve never witnessed someone eating an ice-cream cone and frown on their face, have you? It is proven that eating dessert releases endorphins which make you happy! So hey, go get that double scoop, and turn your frown upside down.

  1. Try new restaurant:

One of the best ways to really explore your city and make it feel like home is to discover new “hole in the wall” restaurants. Team up with your roommates and put all of the places you’d like to try in a hat. Once a week pick out a new restaurant and go try it. Not only does food taste great, but it also often brings with it new experiences and people. Get out there and explore.

  1. Cook a big American breakfast:

I don’t think anything says home like some bacon, eggs and mimosas. One of the biggest adjustments moving to Europe is the difference in breakfast! We weren’t raised on dainty croissants and espresso shots… we we’re brought up eating bagel sandwiches and IHOP choco-chip pancake stacks. Breakfast is a big deal in America, and of course we all miss it, so why not make your own? If you’re running out of bagel sandwich ideas (HA!) try these out.

  1. Exercise:

Ok so just looking at that bagel sandwich list I think I gained 5 pounds. Which brings us to our next coping mechanism… exercise! It’s proven that exercise is nearly as good for your head as for your body. Take a run around your city or do some yoga in the park. Not only do you get a great workout and release more endorphins but you also get to observe day to day life in your city. Take in that constant smell of fresh pastries and watch the little European dogs that look like their owners. Silently chuckle at the tourists with their fanny packs and oversized maps and watch the sun setting over that important looking building you still haven’t visited. You’ll look back years (or even months) from now and miss these little things.

  1. Write down your thoughts:

Next time you’re missing home or having an overwhelming day go outside, sit in your favorite park and just write down what you’re thinking. Don’t worry about what it sounds like or if you spelled “coliseum” right, just let your thoughts flow. This is a great way to reflect and sometimes seeing your thoughts on paper is all it takes to process them and feel less overwhelmed.

  1. Reach out to loved ones:

Sometimes no amount of gelato scoops or bacon will work and you just need to talk to mommy. There are so many great phone apps for keeping in touch with those back home, it’ll feel like they’re there with you! Here are some of the best apps out there for communicating back home.

Postagram (send a picture straight from your phone to your family’s mailbox in postcard form)
Magic jack

  1. Meditate:

The purpose of mediation is to focus on the present moment. Sometimes we get so caught up thinking about the past or the future we don’t get to enjoy the moment were in which for most of us studying abroad is a pretty cool moment! Meditation gives us that big picture perspective we often need. Check out these iphone apps to guide your own mediation.



How to Pack for a Week in a Backpack

Fall break is fast approaching and you’re about to take Europe by storm in 10 days or less. 10 days, countless cities, and just one backpack to tote around with you for the entire trip. Before you insist it’s impossible, read on about how a single backpack can successfully supply you with a 10 day wardrobe and all of your essentials.


First things first, find the perfect backpack. This is not the time to resurrect your purple L.L. Bean backpack from second grade that is monogrammed with your initials (side note: it’s okay to be guilty of owning one of these in the 90’s/early Millenium – all the cool kids did).


A good North Face or EMS backpack with multiple pockets and compartments will keep you plenty organized and give you tons of space.


Equally as critical as the right bag is making sure to do your research. Don’t even open your closet until you’ve checked the weather in each city you’re going to be traveling to. Once you’ve made a mental list of everything you think you might need, cut that in half. We realize you aren’t familiar with the term “packing light”, but contrary to what Kate Sanders says, you CAN be an outfit repeater.


Here are a few critical pieces that will help you get by:

  1. One pair of jeans.
  2. Two pairs of leggings (one for touring, one to wear while you travel).
  3. A few shirts, and a couple warm sweaters.
  4. An extra sweater/sweatshirt for traveling days.
  5. Two neutral scarves.
  6. One additional pair of comfortable shoes.
  7. Shower shoes.

Wear as many heavy pieces of clothing as possible to avoid packing them. If you want to bring boots, wear those on your bus/train/flight along with your bulkiest sweater, jacket or vest.

Alternatively, if you’re headed somewhere warm like Greece, your job is even easier. Summer clothes and flip flops are going to suit you just fine and are a lot less bulky than traditional fall clothing. That said, you don’t need a different bathing suit for each day of the week.

  1. Two bathing suits will do just fine.
  2. One or two sundresses that can also be used as cover ups.
  3. A maxi dress.
  4. A couple pairs of shorts/skirts.
  5. Three or four shirts.
  6. An extra pair of sandals.
  7. A sweater just in case the temperature drops a bit at night.
  8. Something comfortable to travel in.
  9. A towel.

Most importantly, try and leave the “What if” outfits at home. As in, “What if I need my bandage dress and black pumps for the pub crawl one night?” Or, packing something because you “might need that shirt”. Hint: you won’t. Along the same lines, be strategic about things that you think are essential. Check whether or not your accommodations supplies things like towels and whether or not you need to waste space in your bag for that. When packing things like make-up and toiletries, be conscious of what you are actually going to need. Pick up small carry on bottles that you can put hair products, lotions, face wash etc. into – this is especially necessary if you will be flying in between destinations.

Lastly, make a list of everything you are bringing before you go so that you know what will be in your bag. When packing, make sure to roll your clothes instead of folding them in order to conserve space. It may seem like a daunting task, but if you follow the above guidelines, you can easily pull of a week’s worth of supplies in a single backpack and still look great for your abroad Instas and new profile pictures. Good luck & happy travels!


30 Thoughts You Have During a Wine Tasting

By Julia Treible

  1. Am I going to get to stomp on grapes barefoot like in that “I Love Lucy” episode?
  2. I mean, the Kardashians got to do it… so I probably will too, right?
  3. Wait, maybe that’s a bad idea. What if I fall like that woman on Fox News?
  4. I’m going to be such a wine connoisseur after today.
  5. My friends at home are going to be so impressed.
  6. Wow this vineyard is beautiful! And who knew there were so many different types of grapes?
  7. …Has he seriously been talking about grapes for 30 minutes now? Can I get a glass of wine already?!
  8. Sniff the wine? …Okay, if you say so.
  9. I’m supposed to be smelling “hints of tar, blackberry, and chocolate?” …am I missing something?
  10. Why would you ever want me to spit out perfectly good wine?
  11. Ew, I don’t like this one. Can we open bottle number 2?
  12. This literally tastes exactly the same as the last bottle.
  13. Do all of these people seriously notice a difference? There’s no way… they’re definitely lying.
  14. Whatever, I’ll just pretend that I can tell the wine is “oaked and earthy”
  15. Oh my god, that boy in the apron is so cute.
  16. I wonder if he’s an heir to the winery?
  17. Does he have a girlfriend? I definitely need to marry into this family.
  18. Oh my god is he looking at me?! I’ll just smile and act casual.
  19. ….my teeth are stained red aren’t they?
  20. That was so embarrassing. I need another glass of wine.
  21. Am I allowed to pour my own wine?
  22. Ugh I can’t remember… am I supposed to sniff then swish or swish then sniff?
  23. Is there a limit to how much wine we can have?
  24. Not fair, that girl over there definitely had more than me. Maybe I’ll just have one more glass.
  25. Wine is made from grapes, and grapes are fruit, and fruit is good for you.
  26. Today I learned how to appreciate good wine. And how to drink and be classy at the same time.
  27. That quote on Tumblr really is so true. “Life IS too short to drink bad wine”
  28. I’m definitely buying a bottle for myself. And one for my parents. And probably some for my friends at home.
  29. Wait this bottle costs how much?! I can get a liter of boxed wine for 1 euro at the market…
  30. …Where can I get gelato?


Bus2alps Make it Rain Sale

In Europe, the hint of crispness in the air and leaves changing colors signal more than a shift in seasons; it means new places to explore! Bus2alps wants to help you check off everywhere you want to go, so tonight, we’re making it rain. Don’t worry, no actual cloudy skies in sight–we’re just dropping discounts on our fall trips so you can save big and see it all!

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From 6 pm – 8 pm, tune into the Bus2alps Make it Rain Sale Facebook event for voucher code announcements to save you anywhere from 10€ to 300€. Every half hour, we’ll be releasing more discounts on trips everywhere from the French Riviera to Prague to Interlaken and more, not to mention Fall Breaks. You can see and book all our trips at www.bus2alps.com.

The vouchers are first come first serve and have limited uses, so be sure to check the event right away to snag the deals! Here’s when we’ll announce them:

Beach Trips (Rome & Florence Departures): 6 pm
Winter Trips (Rome, Florence, & Prague Departures): 6:30 pm
Fly-in Weekend Trips: 7 pm
Fall Breaks (All Departures): 7:30 pm

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These deals will be expire after Wednesday, so book fast to save big on your fall semester!

These voucher codes are valid in addition to staff discount codes for even more savings, so let us know if you need a discount code for an additional 5% off. 

Exploring Florence’s Best Piazzas

Florence is filled with beautiful piazzas, but if you’re not used to having several giant and elaborate town squares in your city, they can seem like a bit of a mystery. If you’re wondering what you can do in some of the city’s best public spaces (and what to eat, because duh, it’s Italy) consider this your guide:


Home to some of the most famous statues in the world, Piazza della Signoria is an art lover’s dream. But don’t expect to be alone as you marvel at the impressive works in the outdoor sculpture museum, the Loggia dei Lanzi. At any given point in the day, you’ll be surrounded by hordes of tourists.

A few blocks from the Piazza, you can find Gelateria dei Neri, one of the best gelato places/bakeries in the city. Grab yourself a cone or a cannoli, walk to the piazza, and spend some time admiring the architecture of the Palazzo Vecchio and the copy of Michelangelo’s David in the statue’s original location. Then find a seat on the ledge of the Loggia dei Lanzi and watch tourists react to the sculptures. You’ll hear everything from debates on the ethical issues of marble quarrying to things like, “Isn’t that white naked guy thingy famous?” (Believe it or not, this is a real quote.)

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Because it surrounds the Basilica of Santa Croce, the burial place of Michelangelo, Galileo, and Machiavelli, Piazza Santa Croce is another major tourist destination. You can expect to see several groups being led by tour guides carrying giant sticks with loofahs on the top, a few souvenir carts, one or two street musicians, and a whole lot of pigeons.

Piazza Santa Croce is a great place to spend a lazy afternoon. Get yourself an unbelievably delicious panino from the nearby Pino’s Sandwiches and head directly for the steps of the Santa Croce. Despite the constant commotion of the piazza’s visitors, the steps are a relatively quiet place to read a good book or spend a few hours people watching.


Piazza della Repubblica has an incredibly long history. Starting as a Roman forum, the piazza is now at the heart of Florence’s shopping district and is filled with interesting people and events. Be prepared to see painters, musicians, and what is quite possibly the world’s coolest carousel.

There’s no shortage of great food surrounding Piazza della Repubblica (seriously, there’s a place that sells chocolate-dipped cheesecake on a stick) but if you want to go for a classic, get some mind-blowingly good Venchi gelato. Riding the carousel is obviously a magical experience (especially at night), but simply sitting and watching/listening to the musicians and artists is highly enjoyable. If you’re really bored, see how long you can stand in one place without a gypsy approaching you. My current record is 3.5 minutes.

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Looking to escape the crazy crowds of tourists? Then take a trip across the Santa Trinita bridge to Piazza Santo Spirito, because you won’t see hardly any of them there. In addition to artsy locals and the gorgeous Santo Spirito church designed by Fillippo Brunelleschi (of Duomo fame), you’ll find pretty trees, a beautiful fountain, and tons of charming restaurants and bars surrounding the square.

Around the corner from Piazza Santo Spirito is Florence’s crowning jewel of a pizzeria, Gusta Pizza. For daytime visits to the piazza, there’s nothing better than getting a gloriously large margherita pizza and eating it on the church steps. But perhaps the best time to visit Piazza Santo Spirito is on weekend nights when it’s absolutely packed with young and fascinating locals. If you’re tired of hanging out in Americanized clubs and bars, you definitely won’t be disappointed with the Santo Spirito nightlife.