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By taylorclark17

These past three and a half months have been a whirlwind, but I am so proud to say that I completed a semester abroad in Florence, Italy. There were as many bad days as there were good days, but all in all, I believe that the places I’ve seen and the discoveries I’ve made about myself, Italian culture, and academic culture in a foreign country were all rewarding experiences that I will carry with me for this rest of my life.

As a friend of mine so eloquently stated in a Facebook message last week: “Finals still suck even when you’re studying abroad”. And after finishing three term papers, studying for four exams, and presenting two presentations (one of which was for Italian class, and I must admit, my Italian is still a little rusty), I can definitely agree with this statement. However, once I finished all of my assignments and exams, I felt truly accomplished and treated myself to a few farewell activities with friends.

...continue reading "A Farewell To Florence"

By taylorclark17

Although I only have a mere 9 days left in Italy, I am enjoying every minute of my remaining time. This weekend I had a Christmastime themed blast with friends! On Friday, I went to the Mercato di Natale (Christmas Market) in Santa Croce. The market, which began in Florence in 2003 is modeled after German Christmas markets and featured a variety of both Italian and German holiday food and decorations. After trying a delicious soft pretzel and buying some gifts for relatives at the market, I then simply took a tour of all of the Christmas lights and trees in downtown Florence. The tree that was most stunning was certainly the tree in Piazza Repubblica.

...continue reading "Its The Most Wonderful Time of The Year"

By taylorclark17

For all of you prospective study abroad students that plan to live with a host family next semester, heed this one word: communication!

Overall, my experience with my host family has truly been invaluable. By living with my host mom who was born and raised in Florence, I have been able to learn much more about Florentine culture and to navigate around Florence than I probably would have were I not living with a host mom.

...continue reading "Communicating With Your Host Family"

By taylorclark17

As the semester comes to a close and each day I look at Christmas decorations being put up at local cafes and restaurants, I keep asking myself in what ways do I think this semester abroad has been rewarding and have I achieved all that I planned to achieve before I came here?

In response to the first question, I can definitely say that I feel the most rewarding part of my semester abroad has been my homestay. As an African American studying abroad in Italy and as an African American participating in a study abroad program that includes roughly only 20 minority students out of a total of approximately 200 students, there were definitely moments during my time here where I felt.... lets just say…..lonely and isolated from the cultural experiences I am accustomed to. In some ways, this is not a bad thing because being able to immerse myself in a culture different from my own was exactly what I wanted to experience while abroad. However, the neighborhood that reside in Florence is also not very diverse, and after while it feels weird that some days the only other black person I see is Olivia Pope while watching Scandal on Hulu.

...continue reading "My Final Weeks In Florence"

By taylorclark17

November has arrived am I now down to only 5 weeks left in wonderful Florence! After a lovely fall break, classes have started again and I am so happy to say that I am communicating with host family almost completely in Italian.

I spent five days of my fall break in Venice. During my vacation in Venice, I stayed in a hotel located of the Isola delle Rose (Island of Roses).The view of the Grand Canal of Venice from the rooftop was absolutely stunning.

...continue reading "My Fall Break Vacation"

By taylorclark17

Recently, I feel as though the majority of my past blog posts have been a tedious recounting of all the activities I’ve done and sights I’ve seen since I have arrived in Italy as opposed a more truthful reflection of my abroad experiences. Thus, for this blog post I’d like to give a more honest description of the past week.

The two and a half months I have spent in Florence have been some of the most rewarding of my life. I have seen places I never thought I would visit until I was much older and I have continually tried to expose myself to a new culture and adapt to a new way of living and learning.

...continue reading "Give It A Try"

By taylorclark17

I survived midterms week and am now super excited to begin my fall break vacation starting tomorrow in Venice! This week has been somewhat exhausting between studying and researching all the places I plan to visit during the next week, but as always I managed to locate some interesting study and eating spots in downtown Florence.

...continue reading "Countdown to Fall Semester Break!"

By taylorclark17

As midterms are rapidly approaching and I make plans with friends and family to travel during my fall semester break, I still made sure to continue to check off my Italian bucket list and visit the cities of Parma, Pisa, and Lucca this weekend.

As of now I have been in Italy for approximately six weeks and although my Italian literature and history courses have been extremely interesting, like any other college semester, its often nice to a break from studying and enjoy some sightseeing with friends. I find it has been the best way to improve my fluency in Italian and even become informed on the rich cultural histories of certain areas of Italy. As I learned in Pisa from my tour guide, during the Renaissance era, Italy was divided into city-states therefore most citizens simply took pride in the their specific city-state and region as opposed to evoking more of a national pride that we see prominent in Italian culture today.

...continue reading "Pisa and Parma and Lucca, Oh My!"

By taylorclark17

I cannot believe it is already October! The semester is flying by way too quickly! Since it is now officially fall in Italy, this week I decided to attend some of the fall- related activities occurring in and near Florence such as this year’s Festival Di Gelato at the Piazzale Michelangelo and even went on a tour of the ‘Castelnuovo Berardenga’ wine and olive oil vineyard in Chianti, Italy with classmates.

Learning about the detailed science behind the process of wine and olive oil making such the double fermentation of the grapes and the fact that cold pressed olive oil is called ‘cold-press’ because it is oxidized in a container that must be stored at 20-25 degrees Fahrenheit was very interesting. Following the vineyard tour was a wine tasting that included a sampling of well-known Chianti region wines and lastly a fabulous brunch at ‘Ristoro di Lamole’, a great restaurant in the Greve section of Chianti. All of the food was delicious, but I must say that my favorite dish was the antipasti (appetizer); ricotta stuffed ravioli.

Going to the gelato festival with friends was also a lot of fun. The Festival featured gelato companies from throughout Italy including ‘Baldiani’s’ and even distributed Nutella flavored ice cream. Throughout the day, the public was allowed to electronically vote for their favorite gelato flavor at the festival (I picked the Buontalenti from Baldiani’s! It was DELICIOUS!)

After stuffing my face with gelato, my friends and I took a stroll through Santa Croce, the Ponte Vecchio, and finally Santo Spirito where I finally was able to enjoy some fantastic pizza at ‘Gusta Pizza’ a well-known pizzeria in downtown Florence and hear some music from a live band playing in front of the steps of the Duomo.

Well, needless to say I have done WAY too much eating this week, but I am enjoying every bite. I have learned that enjoying meals with friends and family is a respected cultural custom in Italy and I feel so lucky to be able to take advantage of immersing myself in new tastes, sounds, and sights in Florence every day.

That’s all for now. A dopo! (See you later!)


By taylorclark17

Author Ray Bradbury once said that “We travel to be lost”. I can certainly say that I experienced an amazing adventure of being ‘lost’ in beautiful scenery and fun adventures this past weekend during my trip to the Amalfi Coast. My trip included visits to the towns of Sorrento, Positano, Capri, and last but not least, Pompeii! Although visiting this many places in a matter of three days left me beyond exhausted, it also awakened me to embracing the astoundingly beautiful natural landscapes of Italy.

While sitting on the ferry ride that transported me from my hostel in Sorrento to Capri, I saw beautiful caves including the blue, red, green, and white grottos as well as a natural rock formation of the Virgin Mary. Also during my visit to Capri, I rode a chairlift to the top of the island, known as AnaCapri. The panoramic view atop AnaCapri was breathtaking and on the way down, I enjoyed some limoncello at a local restaurant with friends.

Fast forward to Saturday morning. I, along with about 100 other study abroad students boarded buses to Positano, which is approximately a thirty minute drive from downtown Sorrento. During the drive, I was amazed by the beautiful ocean view of the Mediterranean Sea. The beach was of course even more stunning once I arrived and sitting on Positano’s infamous black sand, swimming, and enjoying a Pizza Magherita made the day one my most unforgettable experiences ever!