Toreros’ tales of traveling abroad: Florence

Life in Firenze as told by a second semester sophomore


My decision to go abroad in the spring of my sophomore year as opposed to the fall of my junior year was met with a fair amount of skepticism and inquiry. I must begin by thanking my parents for their love and support with which I have been blessed to make my dream semester a reality.

James, my travel-companion and roommate from USD, and I set our minds to study abroad second semester of sophomore year, re

Photo Courtesy of Jack Bonacci

Photo Courtesy of Jack Bonacci

gardless of the norms at USD. Spending a semester abroad is a critically formative three and a half month span.  However, doing so a year earlier than the majority of students who go their junior year presents a unique set of quandaries, but also benefits.  Whether it’s finalizing housing for the ensuing fall semester, finding a summer gig, or returning to the states as a minor, uprooting a semester earlier than most USD students has thrown a few curveballs at me.

On the contrary, being able to return to USD with two full years to delve into my area of study and scratching a semester of forced on-campus living are among the incentives of being a trailblazer. Also, this city of Florence is awe-inspiring on a daily basis. My walk to class involves a trek past the plush hills of the Boboli Gardens concealed by the brick façade of Palazzo Pitti, followed by a stroll across the famed heart of the world of jewelry — the Ponte Vecchio.

Regularly encountering one of the five largest churches in the world, Santa Maria del Fiore, I am constantly reminded of the rich history of architecture and religion that is ever-present in the city.  But none of this compares to the intellectual prowess of Florence’s philosophers, scientists, and artists, many of whom are buried throughout the city, and whose work is on display in the nooks and crannies of the timeless cobblestone streets.The city is historically unequivocal and unparalleled. However, on a different front, there is more to this place.

Living in a relatively local area of the tourist-infested town, my roommates and I are fortunate enough to be tested with cultural challenges such as communicating to buy produce at the local market or simply having a conversation in a combination of broken Italian and broken English with a passerby.

Then there is the nightlife.  Score one for the going abroad as a sophomore deal. Being tossed into the social culture of bars and clubs provides ample learning opportunities outside of the classroom.  Florence nightlife is constantly thriving with numerous activities.  If I were so-inclined, I could go out every night of the week because the countless clubs and bars thrive on the vehement social nature of the overwhelming amount of study abroad students who call Florence home for a semester.

There is almost too much to do here, and we still have the rest of the continent to explore.  Centrally located both in Italy and Europe, Florence grants frequent and diverse travel prospects. This creates a degree of nomadism in those who study here.  My travels have taken me, thus far, to London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dublin, Siena, Pisa, Lucca, Venice, and Budapest — all in one month. With places like Amsterdam, Vienna, Madrid, and Prague on the list for the future, the rest of the semester promises to be one for the books.

Believe it or not, amid all the memorable moments and busy schedule, I find time to miss San Diego.  That may be what makes this whole experience so sweet: the prospect of returning to my favorite city in the world, being intellectually stimulated on a daily basis, and fostering the life-long friendships that I am so fortunate to have begun in my first three semesters. Ciao, USD.