I spoke with Grace Dubay, a junior majoring in English and Communications, who studied abroad in Florence, Italy. She studied through CEA, a non-Tulane sponsored program.
Q: What drew you to Florence?
A: When deciding where to study abroad, I consulted a lot of people. In all the contrasting advice, the one common thread was that no one had a single negative thing to say about Florence. I knew I wanted to study in a smaller, more manageable city that would feel like a home base. Between the ease, the rave reviews, and the plethora of pizza in the city, the decision was a no-brainer!
Q: What were your classes like compared to Tulane’s School of Liberal Arts?
A: Honestly, classes were much easier. I still feel like I learned a lot, but the curriculum wasn’t as rigorous as Tulane’s. My classes were all very interesting and covered subjects that I might not have been exposed to here. For example, I took a Fashion Marketing and Merchandising course, particularly focusing on Florence-based brands like Gucci and Ferragamo. The courses I took taught me a lot about the city I was living in, making all the knowledge I gained really valuable.
Q: What was a typical day like?
A: Days in Florence were always very relaxed. My apartment was a 15 minute walk from my school, which was located directly in the city center. I didn’t have class until 12:15 p.m., so I usually slept in and did some homework at a coffee shop before I went to school. I finished classes around 5, and afterward I would either go back to my apartment or walk around the city center. I loved checking out the little shops in the city, especially the vintage stores. I tried to eat out as much as possible to get in as many amazing meals as I could, but I usually ended up cooking in my apartment.
Q: What was your favorite thing to do in the city?
A: My favorite thing was to EAT!! I came to Florence with a list of restaurants I wanted to try and thankfully hit all of them. An ideal day for me would be walking across the Arno River and going to Gusta Pizza, a tiny restaurant that has THE BEST pizza in the world. Of course followed by gelato on the way home!
Q: Where did you travel? Was it easy to get around?
A: I traveled to Cinque Terre, Lake Como, Venice, Barcelona, Paris, Munich, Prague, Amsterdam, Vienna, Budapest, Copenhagen, Madrid, Dublin, and London. Flights out of Florence are a little more expensive because the airport is small, but in general it’s very easy to get around.
Q: What advice do you have for someone studying abroad with friends?
A: My advice would be to go with someone who you can depend on. I came with one friend to Florence and it was great. We’re best friends and very upfront with each other, so I felt like I had a solid support system whenever I was feeling anxious or homesick. We ended up becoming friends with two other girls from Tulane who we hadn’t met before, and I am so thankful. I knew I didn’t want to go abroad with a ton of friends, but it felt really nice to have a little group of people to lean on.
Q: What is something someone considering studying in Florence should know?
A: Don’t be afraid to do a program outside of Tulane’s options! I knew I wanted to go to Florence, but was initially hesitant to pursue a non-Tulane program. Luckily, the classes I chose transferred as credits for my major and the process of taking a leave of absence was really easy. It obviously depends on your academic situation, but I found studying abroad outside of Tulane’s programs much easier (and cheaper) than I expected.
Cover Photo: Rachel Wine