Travel Guide | Florence

CT Dialogue with Cassie Lacko: Semester in Florence, Italy

Nutrition major and self-proclaimed “foodie’ gets an inside look into Italian family life and culture.

Cassie Lacko is currently a junior Nutrition major at Syracuse University spending the fall 2014 semester in Florence. She is studying through the Syracuse University Abroad program. She’s taking a 15 credit course load and living with a host family as well as a friend from school. Cassie gives an insight on her experience abroad so far as well as touches on some of the issues connectivity can bring while studying abroad.

What have been some of the highlights of your semester so far?

It is very difficult to pick just a few highlights from my time studying abroad here because I have been able to experience and see so many wonderful things. Living with a host family here is Florence has really made this experience that much better. Marina cooks us breakfast every morning and dinner every night on the weekdays. She is an amazing cook, and being a Nutrition major and self-proclaimed “foodie” dinner is something that I continue to look forward to everyday. I have also improved my Italian and have gotten an inside look as to what the Italian family and culture is like. Another highlight of this experience was our fall break. We had a week off of school at the end of October where we could travel for 10 days straight with our friends. I traveled to Prague, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Paris with 5 of my closest friends and we had a blast!

Have you encountered any difficulties you didn’t expect?

One unexpected difficulty I encountered while abroad was having my laptop die within the first month of being abroad. Another more general difficulty was communication with my family back in the States. I had to rely on Wifi to communicate with people at home, which was harder to find than I originally thought it would be. The Wifi in my host family’s house is not good, and so I had to rely on the Wifi at our Syracuse campus here is Florence. The Wifi is good on campus, but I was not always on campus. I have learned to adjust to less frequent communication.

Did you find that studying abroad brought you any limitations?

I cannot think of any limitations that studying abroad through a school program brought about. The program provided support and allowed us to fall into a normal rhythm of classes during the week which we are used to at home, and I enjoyed this structure. We also had 3 day weekends every week so students were always able to travel on weekends.

Did you feel that you made connections around Florence, or more within your program?

I have made friendships with my host siblings Carolina and Lorenzo. Most of the friendships I have made, however, were from American students studying abroad through the SU Abroad program in Florence. Some go to Syracuse, some attend other universities. I have enjoyed making new friends that I will be able to see back at Syracuse and also strengthening previous friendships that I had before studying abroad. I return to the United States in 2 weeks, and I am very excited to be back home for the holidays and to be back in my house with family. I will miss Florence, my host family, and of course the wonderful food here!

Can you tell us 5 great must see’s or do’s in Italy?

It can be difficult to keep up with school work while abroad because you are constantly traveling and exploring, then catching up on sleep while you can. Luckily for me my daily work load was not too heavy, and my classes were really geared toward a study abroad experience. The hardest thing for my was balancing studying for midterms and finals because you suddenly have a lot to do in a short amount of time! While it’s hard to pick just five, the top five things you MUST see/do while in Italy are:

1. Eat as much pizza, pasta and gelato as you can – you won’t get true Italian pizza for a while after!
2. Travel to Venice, a beautiful place with a lot of great sites to explore
3. Study any kind of art history your program offers -there is so much history of art and architecture here and I feel privileged to have learned about it all!
4.Try to learn as much Italian as you can, and use it!
5. Go wine tasting!.

Any last words of advice?

My advice is first to do it; study abroad! I have learned so much about the Florence, the world, and myself through studying abroad and would do it over again if I could. If you are already abroad, my advice to you is to travel, but also don’t forget to take time and explore the city you are staying in. With only 2 weeks left I am realizing how much I still want to do and see in Florence, and it is difficult to fit everything in with finals coming up. Also, I would definitely advise anyone studying abroad to journal/blog! While I have plenty of pictures to look back on, I regret not keeping a journal of some sort.

Here are six ways you can document your study abroad written by College Tourist Author Caroline Eaton.



Emma Bleznak

James Madison Univerity | 8 stories

Emma Bleznak is a Public Relations and Journalism major at James Madison University. Follower her daily on twitter and instagram: @emmablez

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