My name is Joseph Alioto. I’m studying in Florence, Italy at Piazza Santo Spirito at ACCENT and my major is Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota. Hi, I’m Kirstie Gardner. I go to UMD and I’m an Organizational Management Major. Hi, I’m Jillian Hines. I go to the University of Minnesota and I’m Retail Merchandising Major. I chose Florence because it’s still a big enough city but it’s smaller and a little less intimidating than Rome and the classes and the program just worked with my Major. You can do clubs there is like photography stuff and they involve us with the rest of the Study Abroad Program in Florence because there is a lot There is like 50 schools here. there is a talent show coming up and a lot of stuff like that so it’s like a school or university in the US that makes it so that you can get involved in more than just school. I’ve noticed that my classes here are way more hands on. I feel like my professors have so much more of a cultural experience in the industry that it makes a lot more interesting to go to class everyday and also my classes whether it’s my Retail class or my Sociology class you can see that they overlap so that’s cool to relate the different classes. I get my credits for an internship and here I’m taking the internship course. Me and another girl in our program we work at SAM and she’s an Art Studio Major and I’m a Retail Merchandising Major. It’s been nice because they’re really flexible with us. They want to know what our strengths are and so the first couple of week have been getting to know eachother and figuring out how we can help them and what they can take from us. I was completely surprised at how flexible they are with us. They want us to help, so it’s nice to know that what we are doing is actually benefiting them and they appreciate our work. The class that we are taking here is focusing on small businesses and it hasn’t really changed what I want to do with my eventual degree, but it has really deepened my interest in small business and microeconomics specifically. Classes are definitely rigorous here. I know that some people come over here and think well the classes, we get off Friday’s we’ll go not do much. That’s a lie. You got to come here and school is really first priority. One thing that I wasn’t planning on doing that I do now plan on doing is minoring in Italian. It’s just something that I feel if I lose all my studies or if I lose the ability to speak Italian with Italians that’s something that I would regret for the rest of my life. From being here it’s improved far beyond what I would’ve been able to speak in America. I wasn’t confident in speaking Italian at all at first. I had a roommate who took a year and a half of Italian before she came here so I kinda depended on her a little bit at the beginning but now it’s easy to get around and order food and things like that. I live in an apartment really close to school actually it’s about a four to five minute walk and it is behind a church and I live with three other girls and we live in an apartment building with a couple of really cute Italian families and we have a nice balcony and we have a lot of big windows and natural light. Our refrigerator is about the size of a dorm fridge just because their eating habits are a lot different here. You buy food more often. Every couple of days you buy if fresh and then use it. That’s just how they do it. I’m a little bit farther I’m probably a 15 minute walk from school but it’s right along the river. It’s a really great walk every morning. I’m a little bit more central to the Duomo. I have three other roommates as well that are all in the program. I live in an apartment, yes and I like it a lot. It’s very close to the train station. It’s interesting you live really with Italians we are the only American people in our apartment building and you get to know the little shops around where you are. Independence is nice and I think it has forced me to get out there with my Italian and actually talk to people because if I had a host mom I would be talking to them in Italian but they could they really take care of anything that I’ve had to take care of. I had to take care of getting my phone contract setup, I have to take care of managing groceries, talking to our landlord. My apartment is about a 30 minute walk. That sounds horrible but it’s not at all. I really like it. I walk by the Duomo everyday which is beautiful and I get to walk by different landmarks: Piazza della Signoria, Ponte Vecchio. People would tell me that I would have culture shock but I never really felt it. I didn’t feel like there was much difference between the way people interact with each other. I guess one thing that I had never done before was travel. I’ve never been so culturally open. It’s kinda what I wanted to do I just wanted to open myself up to more things. It surprises me how open and friendly Italian people are because there is kind of that stereotype about them where they are this very fun and warm and open culture but when you really get here and start to talk to some of them especially if you speak a little bit of the language they really appreciate that it’s like form of respect to them. When you can do that and when you talk to them are open with them they are really friendly people and they just really open up to you and bring you in.