Comparing CAPA Programs - Studying Abroad in Sydney vs Florence

Feb 6, 2020 9:12:00 AM / by Sara Shriber

CAPA blogger Sara Shriber loved her summer study abroad experience with CAPA Sydney so much that she decided to study abroad again for a whole semester! Read more to find out Sara's thoughts on studying abroad in Sydney vs Florence.

Ever since I travelled to Spain for a school trip during my senior year of high school, I knew that I wanted to study abroad in college. I was not sure where I wanted to study abroad or how long, but I knew it was an experience I wanted to have during my college career. 

As a student at the University of Pittsburgh, there are many programs to choose from to study abroad. I decided that I wanted to do a summer study abroad program and started to look into my options. I came across CAPA and I really liked that it provides students with an authentic experience living in another country while also studying with other American students. I also liked that there is the option to live with a host family or to live in a student apartment. I was a little nervous about studying abroad, but the structure of CAPA’s programs made me feel more comfortable. I decided to do the CAPA program in Sydney, Australia over the summer and had the best experience. I loved it so much that I wanted to study abroad again, but for an entire semester. 

CAPAStudyAbroad_Spring2020_Sara Shriber_Kangaroo

My great experiences with CAPA in Sydney influenced me to do a semester-long program with CAPA. I wanted to study abroad with CAPA again because I really liked the balance between living in a new country and having the comfort of studying with other American students. I started to do some research and decided on the CAPA Florence program. I thought Florence would be a great place to study abroad as it is full of history, beautiful landmarks, and the location is great for travelling. Since I made my decision to study in Florence, I have not looked back.  

CAPAStudyAbroad_Spring202_Florence_Sara Shriber_Cathedral

I feel so fortunate that I get to have two different study abroad experiences. I have been able to live in two very different countries and learn more about both cultures. I have only been in Florence for a few weeks now, but I quickly took note of the differences between these two countries. Both countries provide unique experiences that I will be able to cherish forever. Looking back at my experiences from Sydney and my experiences thus far in Florence I compiled a list of similarities and differences between these countries in terms of culture and general characteristics:

Sydney, Australia

CAPAStudyAbroad_Spring2020_Sara Shriber_Opera HouseSydney Opera House

CAPAStudyAbroad_Spring2020_Sara Shriber_Bondi BeachBondi Beach

  • Stylish, vibrant city 
  • English speaking country
  • Well-known harbor and opera house 
  • Beautiful beaches and hikes 
  • Dynamic and diverse (people from all over the world live here)
  • Diverse cuisine 
  • Known for the arts, sports, tourism, etc.
  • Strong “mateship”
  • Walkable city, but most people use public transportation

Florence, Italy

CAPAStudyAbroad_Spring2020_Florence_Sara Shriber_Pizza

CAPAStudyAbroad_Spring2020_Florence_Sara Shriber_View from Bridge

  • Historical, quaint city 
  • Italian speaking country, but most people know English
  • Center to the Renaissance culture
  • Home to world famous cathedrals and museums
  • Close to other Italian cities
  • The BEST food
  • Known for art, architecture, food, etc.
  • Strong emphasis on family
  • Very walkable city 

Overall, both cities are great places to study abroad. The CAPA programs in both countries are relatively similar in terms of structure and classes offered, but it is the cultural experiences that truly shape one’s study abroad experience. There is a ton to see, learn, and experience in both countries. I am extremely grateful that I get to study abroad with CAPA for a second time. I am excited for the next few months and to document my experiences along the way.




Thanks, Sara!

Sarah Graham


Sara Shriber is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2020, sharing her story in frequent posts on CAPA World. A Marketing major with an International Business certificate at the University of Pittsburgh, she is studying abroad in Florence this semester.

Sarah's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.

Learn More about the CAPA Florence Program

Topics: Florence, Italy, Why Study Abroad