While being abroad can seem like a waking dream for students, many forget the study aspect of studying abroad. Before I came to Florence, I know I would constantly daydream and plan all the wonderful activities and travel I would do while here. I’d spend time thinking about the delicious food and magnificent sights Florence has to offer.
While most of my time has been filled with unbelievable Italian cuisine and enjoying and learning about Italy, I’ve found that I’ve had to make time for STUDYING abroad. What?! This may sound like a bummer for some, but I’ve found that I’m still able to enjoy Florence while doing schoolwork.
Here are my tips on managing school work alongside all the other magical, wonderful aspects of studying abroad:
1. Make a schedule of travel, school work, and activities throughout the week.
It’s so easy to hop on a train or plane and go somewhere for the weekend. This is one of my favorite aspects of studying abroad in Florence, but it’s useful to know ahead of time what weekends you plan on traveling and for how long. A lot of my assignments were due Sunday night, so I made a weekly schedule and got my assignments done earlier in the week if I planned on traveling during the weekend.
Also, my CISabroad coordinators planned events in Florence throughout the semester. I took part in cooking classes, dinners, hikes, and apertivos. All of these CISabroad-sponsored events and ones that I planned on my own are incredible, but I set aside time during the day to do homework if I knew I had evening plans.
2. Make studying an adventure!
Florence is full of winding side streets that lead to new shops and restaurants. While exploring Florence, I found SO MANY beautiful local cafes.
These were my favorite places to study. I loved meeting the locals and trying the coffee and pastries. Being in an Italian cafe made me excited to study—I always felt like I was learning something new and exciting even though I was doing something simple and mundane like studying for a test or writing a paper.
This photo is of my favorite study spot in Florence. Check out that amazing view of the Duomo!
3. Find some study buddies.
Meeting locals is fun and exciting, and hanging out with them is a great experience. Chances are, some of the locals you’ll meet will be your age and in college, too. Studying with Italian students is a great learning experience, as they offer new insight on ways and places to study and help to improve Italian language skills! (And you can help them practice English.)
4. Go to class.
While this might seem like an obvious bit of advice, it’s easy to skip class to travel and explore Florence or relax a bit. But going to class helps you retain the information better (and meet your classmates!).
Also, my classes in Florence involved a lot of field trips and learning excursions around Florence (for free) as part of class!
5. Leave your procrastination at home.
Procrastination is a huge college burden. It’s so easy to sit on Facebook or Twitter for an hour while you’re supposed to be writing a paper or studying for an exam. While at your home university, it might not be the end of the world, but procrastinating while abroad can mean having to study or complete assignments while traveling on a weekend trip. This happened to me during my semester abroad. I had a paper due the Monday after a weekend I was traveling. I ended up having to write it while traveling, which was really stressful. It’s so much better to start ahead of time and enjoy your trips and weekends!
So, enjoy your time abroad, and be prepared so that you can make the most of the academic side of things, too.
Interested in spending your semester in Florence, too? Check out the program information here.