My experience in Florence was the greatest adventure in my life. In order to master a language, I believe there’s no better way to actually immerse into its culture and practice it with locals on a daily basis. Speaking a foreign language in a bizarre city seemed intimidating. Nevertheless, our professor and professoressa Tellini were experienced with teaching foreign students. They gave us the best support in every aspect of the program. Our interactive experiences inside and outside class encouraged us to practice Italian everywhere and to everyone everyday. Each adventure improved my Italian, confidence and adaptation skills much more than I ever expected. Our prof and interns led us on weekly day-trips (gite) to Florence and other cities — Lucca for example — like a local. Moreover, we went into our prof’s kitchen and made our own pasta from the very first steps! Our first-hand cultural experiences in the beautiful birthplace of Renaissance, like participating masses inside the famous landmark Duomo, definitely enhanced our understanding of the Italian culture. Also, our group created long-lasting relationships with each other as we gained valuable experiences together and supported each other with adapting the Italian lifestyle and language. These were irreplaceable experiences that you cannot gain in the classroom or other courses. I treasure every moment of the marvelous experience and hope more people will take this all-gain opportunity.
Noel, 3rd year student (2016)
Participating UTM’s Study in Florence program is without a doubt one of the greatest decisions I have ever made for myself, and I can’t stress enough how many benefits this experience offers to its students. It is an amazing way to learn about Italy and the Italian language in a way that no textbook could have allowed me to do, and it forced me out of my comfort zone just enough that I really gained a lot for myself. Along the way, I made lifelong friendships with my fellow students and learned many skills that I was able to take home with me and apply to my everyday life. By the end of the program I ended up feeling like a real Florentine student and there was an immense improvement in my Italian language skills, mainly an increased confidence in speaking it. I achieved so much in the three months that I was in Florence, both personally and academically, and I definitely wouldn’t be the person I am today without this experience.
Cristiana, third-year student (2015)
As a language student, I always advocate for study abroad programs and I do so mainly because of the benefits I gained through my participation in UTM’s Study in Florence program. Prior to 2014, I had studied Italian for three years, but I managed to speak Italian with ease only when I partook in this nine-week study abroad opportunity. Further to that, as effective as the language portion is, the personal growth, networking with different people and the living abroad experience, all make this program a rare chance for students to improve themselves and take a leap forward towards becoming global citizens.
Mohammad, fourth-year student (2014)
This program was a life-changing experience, and one that I will never forget. It provided me a unique opportunity to live abroad, immerse myself in a foreign language and culture, and gain the confidence I needed to develop as a speaker. The small group living and learning together helped us build strong friendships, and the individual attention we each received allowed us to feel safe and supported and to get answers to our every language question. In class, we learned all about the country we were living in, which added another enriching dimension to our language immersion. The field trips were one of my favourite parts, and gave us the freedom to experience a variety of Florentine sights as well as towns outside of Florence, without having the difficulties faced when planning similar excursions on one’s own. From class to trips to living in the city itself, it was genuinely un’avventura straordinaria – an extraordinary adventure.
Emma, third-year student (2014)
My name is Bianca and I am an Italian major. I had the greatest opportunity of studying abroad in the most beautiful city I have ever seen. I had the ability to immerse myself in this incredibly vibrant culture in many ways. Our different classes allowed us to practice our temporary mother tongue which helped us become comfortable with speaking to new people each and every day. We were given the opportunity to receive the most interactive courses offered at U of T. They were supplemented by class trips to different cities. This took Italian civilization as a topic and turned it into an interactive experience. What better way to learn about famous historical landmarks such as the Pergola theatre than to have a tour of it and watch a performance? Each individual experience shaped my ability to comprehend the lessons taught in class. Also, I was blessed to go to Italy with the most incredible group of individuals. We left UTM as strangers and came home as a family. We were able to help each other ease into the Italian lifestyle and we were a stable support system for one another. Given the opportunity, I would not change a single moment and I would return to the beautiful Florence in an instant.
Bianca, second-year student (2014).
There is no getting around the fact that to properly learn a foreign language you have to immerse yourself in a foreign environment. Yet as you improve, the less foreign that language becomes. What makes this program so great is precisely that in all aspects of your experience you become a local yourself. You learn about and participate in italian culture from within rather than from without. What's more, you share this experience of transformation with a select group of other students all equally motivated and equally intimidated, and this shared experience has a way of forming great relationships. In making this commendable commitment to the language, the support and encouragement you receive from the staff and interns means that you have nothing to lose, nothing to fear and all to gain; which of course is precisely what happens, almost without you realizing it.
Ian, third-year student (2014).
Il semestre a Firenze è stata un’esperienza che non potrò mai dimenticare! Ho imparato tanto della lingua, della cultura e della storia italiana. Provo sensazioni meravigliose quando parlo questa lingua che, secondo me, è la più bella del mondo. Prima di partire per Firenze, parlavo poco o niente l'italiano. Adesso posso conversare tranquillamente per ore e ore in italiano! Ho scoperto delle cose nuove dentro di me che prima non riuscivo né a capire né a vedere. Non pensavo che mi sarei mai così appassionata alla lingua e alla cultura italiana. Il tempo passato in Italia mi ha fatto capire quanto siano importanti per me le mie origini. Il programma mi ha dato la possibilità di approfondirle e scoprire quante cose belle ci sono in un mondo così vasto. Quando sono tornata in Canada, un pezzo del mio cuore si è spezzato, perché non volevo lasciare un paese che amo e che mi ha insegnato tanto. Non vedo l’ora di tornare di nuovo a Firenze!
Maria, fourth-year student (2014).
My experience in Florence was one I will never forget. The richness of culture and food was so amazing to experience, and I felt I was able to soak it all in given such a long period of time. Living in a residence and being a student in Florence made me feel like I was a true Italian. My weekly, or sometimes daily visits to the supermarkets and cafes resulted in familiar faces and people who started recognizing me as well. It was a great experience being treated as more than just a tourist by the amazing Italian people. The opportunity to learn such a beautiful language in a beautiful city is such an overwhelming and extraordinary experience. We would learn new words and grammar rules in class, and follow it by a conversation with native speaker, where we could use those same skills. One thing I enjoyed the most was experiencing such a different way of life. I adored being able to walk everywhere instead of relying on some sort of transportation, and the daily breaks between 2-4 p.m. throughout the entire city gave the place a very relaxed and laid back feel. This experience is one that I would not have traded for the world and I hope to one day return to beautiful Italy.
Vanessa, second-year student (2013).
My semester abroad in Florence is like no other experience I've had in my life because it was a truly all-encompassing academic, cultural, and social adventure. The most important benefit I derived from the program was a clear improvement in my oral abilities in Italian. Despite being exempted from the grammar course, I was required to speak exclusively in Italian both inside and outside of the classroom, which provided for true immersion and allowed me to explore vocabulary, colloquial and idiomatic expressions, and complex verb tenses which I do not otherwise have an opportunity to practice at home. I was also lucky enough to make the most of what Florence has to offer in completing my studies by using the resources of the Biblioteca Nazionale and libraries at Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, our host institution. The academic component of the Study in Florence program is crucially complemented by trips outside of the classroom, in which we see other nearby cities (like Livorno and Lucca) with great cultural significance, as well as hidden gems of Florence (like the mercato at Le Cascine). My friends and I also took the Study in Florence program as an opportunity to travel around Europe and Italy. Florence and other European cities are so vibrant and geared towards accommodating international students. On top of all this, our program coordinators, Prof. Lettieri and Rosa, did everything they could to ensure our comfort and help us with our studies! I count myself very lucky to have received U of T credits from this specially-tailored program while having the time of my life in one of the world's most beautiful cities!
Olivia, third-year student (2012).
My name is Neena and I'm a third-year Language Studies major. Last year I went to Florence for two months to study Italian. I saw this program as an opportunity to gain credits while being able to travel. Different situations will always be part of new experiences but there is a lot more to take away from those situations than you think. This study abroad did wonders for my proficiency in Italian and gave me an opportunity to experience an entirely new culture. There's nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Neena, third-year student (2012)