Conversations on Studying Abroad

What to Expect When Expecting Firenze

Oct 12, 2022 9:45:00 AM / by William Lammons

William Lammons from University of Colorado Boulder talks about navigating his expectations of studying abroad in Florence and how to roll with the punches. He shares several things you should prepare for and how to complete them pre-departure and in-country.

A couple crossing the Arno River bridge on an electric scooter

Pictured is a couple crossing the Arno River bridge on an electric scooter, a common form of transportation in Florence.

Simultaneously frightening and thrilling; if you were like me when choosing to study abroad in Florence, you had little-to-no idea what to expect. I had been to Mexico over a winter break once beforehand, but otherwise had yet to leave the country in my 21 years of life. The wealth of resources at your disposal to gain insight into what life is like in Italy exists, but it eludes many as we all have thousands of other things to worry about in addition to the completion of the extensive laundry list of preparatory procedures.

The visa process alone requires a decent amount of determination. As far as that goes, I recommend just looking at the consulate’s website and referring to their list of required materials rather than any other. That’s the only list that will for sure be accurate and specific enough that you can effectively compile everything. 

Make sure that you try to submit your application as soon as you are within the 90-day period; otherwise, if you’re like me, you’ll be left crossing your fingers hoping it comes in the few days before your flight. It’s not easy as post offices are open at obscure times of day and many college students work 40+ hours a week during their summers, but it’s manageable and ultimately you just need to have faith that everything will work out in the end.

Clothes I brought hanging in the closet

My closet and some of the clothes I brought. I feel as though it’s enough to give me options and allow me to not spend all my time doing laundry; granted, I plan on purchasing another carry-on to bring back to the States with the items I collect over the course of the semester.

As you would assume, there are some things you need or might want to purchase when expecting and some tasks you’ll want to complete:

  1. You’re going to need adapters for the outlets so you can charge your electronics for sure; if you have styling appliances like hair dryers or things like that you can either try to bring them, which could eat up space in your suitcase, or you could buy them in Italy. There are some electronics stores with those types of things available to purchase. 

  2. You can also bring hangers if you would like as your housing will likely provide pretty few. However, the dollar store is a great place to find a lot of toiletries and small household items

  3. I’d recommend bringing some white sneakers for sure, even Italians love a basic white sneaker with almost any outfit. 

  4. You’ll likely be told to pack your bag and then remove half of what you’ve packed, but that could leave you doing laundry constantly. My washer takes three hours to finish a cycle and then another several to air dry. In my opinion, it’s better to have more clothes rather than not enough as you are visiting somewhere where it is more customary to dress well. While you can buy clothes while you are here, generally you are probably going to want to spend more money on experiences and traveling. Also, at least in the warmer months, it isn’t uncommon to sweat quite a bit as many places don’t have air conditioning.

  5. Make sure to inform your bank of your travel or you’ll end up not being able to buy a snack in the airport and be hangry landing in Italy. 

Ultimately I wouldn’t say there’s a whole lot that you need to ensure you bring; anything you forget can be acquired once you get here. If you have to order something it might take some time and cost some money, but it’s important to feel comfortable where you’re living for three months. Try to expect the unexpected and roll with the punches.

William and his best friend after the CAPA dinner in Florence

My best friend and I after the CAPA dinner, one of many instances in which it’s nice to have some fun and slightly more formal clothes to wear.
William eating a panino wearing a Zara shirt he purchased in Florence

Me eating a panino wearing a Zara shirt I purchased in Florence. Zara has a huge store in Florence with a lot of cheaper clothing but it’s usually pretty busy.

Thanks, William!

William Lammons

William Lammons is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2022, sharing
his story in frequent posts on CAPA World. An Environmental Engineering major from University of Colorado Boulder, he is studying abroad in Florence this semester.

William's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.

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Topics: Florence, Italy, Predeparture & Study Abroad Preparations