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I’m in the realm of students again and that means the questions are coming back. Did I study in Florence, they all want to know. Did my few months roaming around the Duomo pave my way to a life in Italy? I did study in Italy, but not in Florence. I’ve mentioned Ascoli before, but when I drop the name here with students, I could’ve studied on Mars and it’d be the same, and honestly, with Italians, most normally have forgotten the city even existed in their memory before pausing, squinting their eyes, and asking “why?” The student today asked me what the city was like. Was it like Florence?

Oh, no, not like Florence at all. There were no tourists. There were twelve of us students. Our classes were in rented-out rooms inside an architecture school and we had apartments in the center of town. I think we had a day or two of orientation and then we were normally on our own. My basic Italian was no match for the locals, and I mimed my way around my new life, learning as I went. We didn’t have wifi in our apartment. These kids have it 24/7 on their phones. Our phones still had snake. We had translation dictionaries to speak to our Italian friends. These kids, in a city swarming with tourists and other English-speaking students, barely have a chance at meeting Italian students.

Was it like Florence? I lived Italian life. I dove into a subculture in an area that is extremely isolated, and I thrived as much as an ignorant 21-year-old could. The student liked the sound of Ascoli. “That’s honestly what I thought it would be like here. I know it’s bad but I didn’t really research Florence that much before I got here,” he admitted, and I understood, because I had seen it with so many students, that really did want the abroad experience, what it used to be, what it still can be if you do your research (GoOverseas is great for that!). Florence is easy to sell, and it can be the experience that students like him are looking for, you just have to dig a bit deeper. I can’t wait to help more do just that.

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