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Study Abroad and Domestic Study Away

Notes from Abroad: Allie in Florence

Notes from Abroad is a new feature on the Off-Campus Programs website, in which we highlight small snippets of a student’s experience.  This week’s feature is from Allie Widmer ’18, a Chemistry major and a Studio Art minor currently studying abroad with AIFS in Florence.

All of my classes offer me with unique experiences that I couldn’t get anywhere else. My architecture class has a field trip every Tuesday to a new church or palace. We learn about the architectural significance while on the tour. My painting class goes to sites and paints Florence in person rather than from a photo. My photography goes out and takes photos of Florence during class and then discusses them the next class. This offers a very different environment and experience then the one at Lake Forest. Rather than learning about the architecture or painting from a picture I am able to learn about it at the site and paint in person. 

A homestay really helps me get the full experience being abroad. We have a room off the side of their house. There are two parents and two boys. The boys ages are eleven and four. We have our own door to get into our room so this helps to not disturb the family. We leave our door open and the boys come in to talk to us and watch movies. The family all speak fluent English aside from the four year old. This is very helpful but also I wish we were able to practice our Italian more often. 

There is a small kitchen in your room and this allows us to cook our own dinners. We get money through our program to shop at a supermarket. We make meals on the weekdays with our stove and put our extras in the fridge. We have all utensils, plates, bowls, and glasses. There is a stove and pans to use. When we are done cooking there is a sink to clean all the dishes in. It is like having our own apartment but also allowing us to live with a real Italian family. This provides for space along with a real Italian family. 

We have family dinners with our host family twice a month. They make us food that they would normally eat for there Italian dinners. We engage in conversation and practice our Italian. They tell us great places to visit in Florence and there favorite places to travel. They really make us feel like one of the family and give us the home like feel that we can be missing back in Chicago. Living in an apartment would be nice but it would take away from part of my experience. I know I will have the connection with my host family long after I leave. They really influenced my trip and made it more beneficial. 


Allie Widmer