Studying abroad is about more than studying

Wandering the streets of Florence is as much an education as class.

On an average Wednesday morning, I wake up to the sun pouring through my window. Breakfast is waiting for me on the kitchen table—a bowl of fruit, Nutella, colorful jams, and crackers, which are really more like biscotti. A brisk 15-minute walk and I’m at the Accademia and there it is—larger than life, Michelangelo’s David. Next stop: San Lorenzo market to do a little leather shopping. Haggling has become my new favorite hobby. Oh, and did I mention, I’m in class? An art history site visit and an Italian cultural field trip. Sometimes I forget I’m here to study.

Piazza Savonarola outside the SU Abroad Florence center

So as you can imagine, hearing the word “midterm” was a wakeup call from this semester-long day dream. (Quite literally, for my classmate who slept through our exam, and was woken up by a phone call from our concerned T.A.)

Regardless of the fact that I have to cram facts and dates into my already over-stimulated brain, there’s truly nothing like studying a piece of art and then going to see it in a church the next day. Rather than learning about art and history, I’m living the art and history, and it without a doubt makes a deeper impression.

I ran into a friend yesterday when I was walking down via Cavour and he asked me where I was going. I didn’t really have an answer. I was just walking and watching. More than climbing the Duomo or visiting famous works of art, my favorite thing to do in Florence is wander.  There is always something new, yet so old, to see.

This semester, the majority of my learning has taken place outside the classroom, and above the pesto and pastries, I honestly think it’s more enlightening this way. But try explaining that to your professor as she hands you an eight-paged, double-sided exam (with lots of blank lines).

And so, for one stressful week, I suppressed my inner explorer and discovered the library. 

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