AIFS Study Abroad in Florence, Italy: Semester or Academic Year

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About

Spend a semester or academic year in Florence, Italy with AIFS! Earn up to 16 credits per semester at Richmond University in Florence. Courses taught in English or Italian. No previous Italian required.
A 3-credit Service Learning and Active Citizenship course is available for students wishing to volunteer in Florence. This course is combined with 9-12 weeks of fieldwork. Other volunteer placements are also available outside of this course.
Live in a homestay or in a fully furnished Italian apartment. A meal plan is included - and has been deemed a highlight of the program, with almost 100% of students rating it as "excellent" or "good."
Cultural and social activities such as guided city walks, museum visits, Italian cooking classes, and a gelato tour are included. Day trips to Pisa, Lucca, and the Vespa Factory, a 3 to 5-day trip to Rome, and a 2-day field trip to Venice are all included as well.
2 nights in London included for students on the AIFS Flight Package.

Highlights
  • 3 to 5-day trip to Rome
  • 2-day visit to Venice
  • Transcripts issued by Richmond, The American International University in London

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Questions & Answers

Yes, this program is open to seniors.
You don't have to know any Italian! I hadn't taken any Italian classes prior to studying abroad and I knew maybe three words total before I went over. You will have to enroll in Italian classes through AIFS while you are studying there, but you need no prior experience with the language.
Do it! I spent a summer in studying Art History in Perugia (about 2 hrs south of Florence) and didn't know a lick of Italian. Particularly in a place like Florence you don't need to know much Italian to get by, other than learning how to order gelato. While you're there though you should definitely take a language class. It helps make the experience more authenticate and memorable.

Reviews

98%
based on 37 reviews
  • Academics 7.7
  • Support 9.4
  • Fun 9.5
  • Housing 9.6
  • Safety 9.3
Showing 1 - 15 of 37
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Alexandra
10/10

Studying Abroad Saved My Life

I decided to study abroad spring of my sophomore year of college. I had always wanted to, and it was something I considered when looking at colleges. My sophomore year was incredibly challenging. I had a heavy class schedule and was involved all over campus. I began to lose myself in all of it. I needed a break. So I decided to study abroad to get away, explore a new place, and most importantly, find myself again. I knew I wanted to go to Italy, since that's where my family originates from. I met with the study abroad office on campus, picked my program and made it happen. I fully believe it was the best decision I've ever made, to study abroad. I met so many new friends, traveled to some beautiful places and was able to do some soul searching. I had never been to Europe before so I definitely took advantage of that, traveling to six new countries. I was ahead of required course at my home university so I took class in Italy that allowed me to indulge in the culture of my new home. Being away from home and my friends at school allowed me to focus on myself and focus on what I needed. It allowed me to appreciate the connections I did have at home, and give attention to the areas that may have needed growth. I allowed myself to be selfish that semester. I did not only what I needed to do, but what I wanted to do. I had been so caught up in the pressures of work and school at home that I had forgotten how to enjoy myself. I can remember my trip to Cinque Terre. When I stepped off the train into the sunlight, could smell the ocean, I was so overwhelmed with so much happiness, I actually teared up a little. I couldn't remember the last time I was that happy. Studying abroad really allowed me to come full circle and fall in love with school and life again.

How can this program be improved?
Everything was perfect. I just wanted to travel more and more. If they could build more excursions into the included trips it would only make it better. I never wanted to stop traveling.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Haley
10/10

It was everything I wanted and so much more...

Cities become your home when you get to share the city to your family and friends. One of the best 'aha' moments I had while abroad was when my mom got to visit me about half way through the semester. We were walking around the city and I was sharing everything that I knew about it, simply going on and on about how marvelous it was and why. I would talk about the Duomo and the small piazza by my apartment. My mom was impressed that I not only knew all of this information, but I knew every which way to turn while we were walking. She finally said that "Wow. This truly has become your new home." And it was simple moments like these that I truly miss the most about my time in Florence, Italy.

I had always known going in to college that I wanted to study abroad for a semester sometime during my four years. I chose Italy and immediately also chose Florence because I appreciated that it was a vibrant booming city but also a small city, in hopes that it would feel homey. I wanted to be in a place where another language was spoken. It turned out that many of the cafes I would go into often, the workers would want to help you learn Italian and would help you as you mumbled the little Italian you knew to order a cappuccino.

My next step was choosing which program I wanted to study abroad with. I was initially drawn towards AIFS (American Institute of Foreign Study) because, 1. It was an affiliate program for my school (University of Alabama), 2. It had a great flight package that would allow me to spend 3 days in London prior to arriving in Italy 3. It had a meal plan package that had great reviews and 4. It appeared to include a lot for the cost that was similar to other programs.

I ultimately chose AIFS and all I can say is AIFS went above and beyond everything I expected. It started off with the great flight package which included a 3 day all-inclusive trip to London and then a 5 day orientation in Rome. I really liked having an orientation in another city because in the morning, we would have orientation, and then in the afternoon, we got to explore the city, go the Vatican, etc.

The meal plan WAS OUT OF THIS WORLD. IT WAS INCREDIBLE! There is no better way to experience the culture of Italy than being able to eat at about 25 different restaurants throughout the city each night. Each restaurant ranged from a meal "gift card" or a set menu. And these restaurants had incredible food. It may have helped me gain a few pounds, but I also got to explore some of Italy's best food for no price. I know so many other students studying abroad that ended up cooking pasta and sauce for dinner every night to save money, whereas my friends and I got to go out to eat each night of the week.

AIFS also had an incredible and friendly staff to help you out if you need them, and planned many social events including volunteering the local schools, colleges, etc.; social nights with local Italians to practice your Italian and meet other students; free trips to the Italian country side as well as a 3 day trip to Venice; and even got to stay right on the river in an Italian style apartment. I’m telling you, AIFS did an incredible job of making sure we had every opportunity to fully engage in the Italian culture and I couldn’t have asked for anything better. With that, I urge anyone reading this to go for it and GO STUDY ABROAD.

How can this program be improved?
I genuinely couldn't have asked for such a great program because it had everything I wanted and so so much more. The only area where the program could be improved is possibly making it more clear that choosing a home-stay will more than likely be with another fellow american. I was nervous to do a home-stay because I was unsure whether I wanted to be in a stranger's home alone. However, most of the people that did do a home-stay was paired with another american. I would suggest making that more clear. I ended loving my staying in my apartment right on the Arno river.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Bridgette
10/10

AIFS Semester in Florence

One of my favorite stories from abroad comes from the week my family visited me. I want to start by saying that your goal abroad should be to make friends with anyone you meet and try to brighten their day.

We walked into a restaurant and were seated by a waiter who wasn't exactly rude, but he wasn't very friendly either. My family is a little overwhelming (even though there were only five of us) and we can be pretty loud. As the waiter left to get our drinks, my dad says "We are going to make him love us by the end of this dinner". We all laughed and agreed thinking that we could at least get him to smile maybe and have a conversation that consisted of more than a couple words.

We started off by asking his name and what his favorite dish was. We eventually asked him where he was from, where his favorite place in Sorrento was, about his family and other easy questions. Little by little he would share more with us. I think he especially loved when we asked his opinions on dishes we ordered.

He loved my sisters and me and by the end of the night he was kissing the three of us on the cheek! He gave us postcards from the restaurant and was extremely flattered when we asked if he could sign them. We then asked to get a picture and he was adorably happy to.

I like to share this story to encourage people to get to know the locals and others around them. Your immersion in the culture that you are visiting or studying in is completely up to you and you get out what you put in. Make it your goal to make friends with everyone you meet including drivers, waiters, hotel employees, anyone! Expanding horizons is what being abroad is about!

How can this program be improved?
I wish it had been easier to plan my transportation after the program. What was really nice about AIFS was that they included a flight package if you wanted. However, you had to know when you were coming back and where you were flying out of before the program started. I had a feeling I would want to travel after the program ended, but I didn't know for how long, where to, or if I would for sure be able to. When I ended up deciding to travel for three more weeks after my program, I ended up having to spend a lot more to buy a new ticket because it would have costed me more to change the ticket I already had booked.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Brit
10/10

Best experience I could've asked for

My study abroad experience was everything I hoped it would be and so much more. The staff for Richmond was fantastic and helped us ease into the culture. I loved experiencing the culture and being able to travel to so many different countries. I would have loved to spend more time there. I made so many friends that are the only ones that understand what the experience was really like. I couldnt have asked for anything more from the program or the living situation they provided me with. The best 5 months of my life!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Shirley
10/10

Olives, old men and

December 1st, 2006, generally a wintery day to me, was sunny and warm and we got the chance to go picking olives. Two old gentlemen workers didn't think a bunch of females could work like they did and they grumbled in Italian about it. By the time we quit mid afternoon, they were impressed. Old doors were laid flat on saw horses, tablecloth thrown on, and a rustic lunch was served outdoors. These two old men were smiling, and although they didn't speak English, and none of our group spoke Italian enough to know what they were saying most of the time, we understood the camaraderie that grew that day as they kept pouring us more wine and offering more food. It is one of my favorite memories of my time in Florence.
I felt at home in Firenze. I felt safe. I felt like I could live the rest of my life in Italy and be happy. The best thing I ever did in my life was to choose Florence for study abroad.

How can this program be improved?
More hosted adventures. Or at least more info. Most weekends were on our own. Which was fine but I feel like I missed a lot mostly because of not knowing where to go, especially close by. Did Cinque Terra, French Riviera, Rome, Venice (awesome!!!! I'm so lucky!) but several weekends were spent roaming around Florence. Years later I realized I missed a lot.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Chris
10/10

Studying abroad helped paved the path to the teacher I am today.

The summer I spent in Florence was the best summer of my life. Not only did it open my eyes to another culture and a group of friends that I am still in contact with, it also helped me know that I need to be a teacher. In college, I had the faint idea that being a teacher is what I should do after college. Coming back from Florence I was a new person, I had this sense of being not only a citizen in my community, but I saw the importance of being a global citizen. I knew after that I needed to help student understand the world around them and the importance of being a global citizen.
My students today receive the eye opening experiences I received from my world travels. They love hearing about all these different cultures and always want to learn more (but sadly we just do not have the time for every story). I have had students who hated social studies before my class. After the year I have converted some of those students into lifelong cultural learners.
The impact this study abroad trip doesn't just impact my life, it impacts upwards of 150 students each year. Over the course of my teaching career, my study abroad trip in Florence will impact thousands of students. From my stories and my recommendations, I have created novice travelers. Just from my first year of teaching, I influenced 3 students to travel last summer.
I have the AIFS study abroad program to thank for that. Without the experience and friendships I created, I not only would know why I am a teacher, but I would not have the same ability to change over 100 lives every single year.

How can this program be improved?
The one thing I would see is as in imporvement is an extensive list of cultural events in Florence. Events that you could only see, and experence, in Florence.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Vianca
10/10

You'll fall in love with Florence

Florence is the most magical city of all time! I advise anyone studying abroad in Europe to go there. AIFS was right by the Piazza Santa Croce as well as our apartment which was absolutely amazing!! They were so helpful with everything we needed and gave the best travel advice on which ever country we were visiting for the weekend. If I can I would go back to Florence and study abroad with them again!

How can this program be improved?
I wish my time is Florence was longer
Yes, I recommend this program
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Gabriella
10/10

Incredible

I cannot rave enough about my study abroad experience with AIFS last spring semester. The greatest thing about the program was the staff. They helped make an easy transition for the students into a new country. They were also incredibly friendly and supportive. This program gave me the freedom to feel independent, but still go to the staff if I had any questions or concerns. The meal plan was also an incredible addition to this program. My friends and I could not get enough of some of the restaurants included in the meal tickets. Overall, I recommend this program to anyone thinking about studying in another country.

How can this program be improved?
Maybe offer more meal vouchers to those not traveling during breaks or holidays
Yes, I recommend this program
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Megan
10/10

The Experience of a Lifetime!

As a Spring 2014 Florence alum, I have no doubt that AIFS was the best program I could've chosen to help me fulfill my nearly lifelong dream of studying abroad. And even now--half a year removed from my experience--there's not a day that goes by that I don't think back to my unforgettable time in Florence and the (what seems like) entire lifetime's worth of happy memories I created there.

To start, my favorite parts about the program were the meal plan and the almost daily activities/excursions AIFS offered once we arrived in Italy. The meal plan was a really great way to experience the food culture of Italy without breaking the bank--with our breakfast/lunch and dinner cards, my friends and I were able to dine at fancy restaurants we wouldn't have been able to afford off plan, grab a quick panino or pizza to go, buy fresh produce at the local fruit stand, go out for aperitivo (which is kind of like the Italian version of happy hour), go grocery shopping, and even buy cocktails at local bars. In addition, almost daily AIFS gave us the option of participating in cultural immersion activities such as attending soccer games, gelato tours, cooking and baking classes, wine tastings, the opera and ballet, and day-long excursions to various destinations throughout Italy. With the help of these activities, I felt I was able to come away from my abroad experience with an excellent grasp on Italian culture and daily Florentine life.

Overall, the AIFS program in Florence made the necessary accommodations for us students to live an extremely comfortable life in Italy without holding our hand, hovering, or babying us through the entire process. I had envisioned gaining invaluable independent living skills from my abroad experience--the last thing I wanted to be was dependent on my program in any way. For that reason, I really appreciated that AIFS took care of the hard stuff for us--arranging our airfare, setting us up in apartments, providing us with meal options, helping us locate doctors if we got sick, etc.--but then set us free to do our own thing as we pleased. With AIFS, you can be as independent as you want to be, but there's always an incredible support system to fall back on if you find yourself having trouble, and that was great to know.

I would enthusiastically recommend AIFS to anyone who is interested in studying abroad!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Jaleesa
10/10

2009 Spring Semester Experience

I'm still buzzing from this experience five years later. Living in Siena for three weeks, being independent in a foreign country, language immersion and the personal attention of the teachers.. oh yeah!! and all the most delicious Italian food on my regular food plan from school..

It was amazing. I sometimes wake up thinking I have just come back, but I have lived so much more since then and even traveled back to Europe this year to explore more and met Italians who I could STILL speak Italian.

All in all, if I was in undergrad I would definitely do this program again. In fact, they should create one specifically for graduate students and one for professionals. C'MON!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Rebecca
10/10

Want a great experience?

Studying abroad through AIFS was honestly one of the best decisions I ever made. I lived in downtown Florence, Italy right around the corner from the Duomo, the Palazzo Vecchio, and the Ponte Vecchio bridge! It was right in the center of EVERYTHING! I compared it to New York City it was like living in "Time Square". Beyond the amazing apartment, the classes were spectacular! Art History was amazing because instead of reading about art work out of a text book we were right in front of the real thing! It was like having your own personal tour guild. In addition the staff is extremely fun and helpful with whatever you need! They really care about each student and their experience abroad. I was not disappointed with the extra activities AIFS put together. Some of those included: cooking classes, wine tasting, a pizza making class, field trips, olive oil tasting, an Opera show, a Halloween party, welcome dinner, and so much more! This program is completely affordable coming from a girl who did it on her own! I was 19 working a minimum wage job back at home and got myself to Italy! You would not regret taking the adventure abroad through AIFS, it is an experience I will never forget!

How can this program be improved?
If I could change one thing about the program it would be the fact that our water heater didn't work very often so cold showers were a pretty normal occurrence!
Yes, I recommend this program
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TMiller
10/10

Best Experience

Studying abroad with AIFS is one of the best decisions I have ever made. AIFS made my study abroad experience as smooth as possible. I felt safe, well fed and happy to attend a wide vary of activities provided for us. I took four classes and was in no shape or form overwhelmed by the work load. However, I learned so much academically. It was such a treat to attend class and then see paintings that I had learned about earlier that day in person. Our professor would take us there and reiterate what we learned in class in front of the masterpieces.

AIFS provided cultural activities for us to attend such as cooking classes and aperativo to name a few. Most of the time these activities didn't even cost us extra. The staff was incredible. If I ever had any questions they were there to help!

How can this program be improved?
Because our program had about 200 people, I wasn't able to get to know everyone. I would have love to gotten to know more of the people on my program.
Yes, I recommend this program
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ndc
10/10

Best Experience Ever!!

Studying abroad was the best decision I've ever made. I would encourage everyone to do it. I was able to make lifelong friends and travel to so many amazing places. Even though it has already been two years since I went (time flies!) it still feels like yesterday that I went. When you expose yourself to a new culture and lifestyle you learn an exponential amount of stuff about yourself that you're not able to learn in the classroom. You are faced daily with real life situations and discover many different aspects of the culture that you are not able to read in books or see in pictures.

How can this program be improved?
I wish I could think of something bad to write about for this program. But being thousands of miles away from home things went amazingly smooth for the semester that I was there. The only thing that went slightly downhill was the food at the hotel we stayed at for the first two weeks in Lido.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Kelly
10/10

The Best 4 Months of My Life

I had expectations going into studying abroad and AIFS completely exceeded my expectations! The staff was so helpful, the classes were easy which allow you to really enjoy your time abroad, the living situation was great and the people were amazing! It was awesome having a sort of "meal plan" for restaurants around Florence. It allowed me to enjoy all that Italy had to offer without worrying about spending my money. I really enjoyed going to London and Siena at the beginning of the semester and really get to know everyone in the program. If you're going to go abroad in Florence, Italy, AIFS is definitely the program to go with!!

How can this program be improved?
It would've been nice not to have so many layovers on the way home.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Taylor
10/10

Taylor's Experience

This program was more than I even expected. From the amazing experience of living with a family and getting to know them, to the staff's helpfulness for everyday life, this program had it all! I specifically enjoyed the meal program and getting to know the restaurants around Florence! Il Teatro was our favorite and the owner and head waitress became a second family to us! I also loved the opportunities the school provided to different places, games, and the cooking classes, which were my favorite! AIFS in Florence thought of everything and made a seemless transition and experience in a new place!

How can this program be improved?
I would change the flights to have smaller layovers.
Yes, I recommend this program

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About AIFS Study Abroad

AIFS is a leading provider of study abroad programs. Since 1964, more than 1.5 million students have traveled abroad with AIFS. Comprehensive program fees make it convenient for students to study abroad and experience all that the world has to offer....