I studied architecture in ISCTE-IUL. ISCTE is known as a business and management university and a lot of people are still surprise to find out that you can study architecture in there. You have some advantages, as to work with people from very different fields, but also disadvantages, as everything is done first to them. Because of that, for example, we don’t have many Erasmus destinations.
Actually when I applied there were just this options: Gent (Belgium), Aalborg (Denmark), a lot of options in Germany like Wuppertal, Darmstadt, Münster and Wiesbaden, Athens (Greece), Iasi (Romania), Madrid and Valladolid (Spain), Bath (UK), Vilnius (Lithuania) and Salerno and Palermo (Italy). So almost no capital cities, I didn’t want Spain because it would be too close, I didn’t want Germany or the UK because I wanted to learn a new language (for the ones I don’t know I went one year to Germany with AFS), and many options didn’t catch my attention. I decided that I was going to Denmark, as I always loved the Scandinavian countries but then I started seeing how much things cost and I was again worried. My father was always asking why I wouldn’t go to Italy and the main reason was that I knew the University of Palermo was not that good and I didn’t want to be “stuck” on an island. I answered him that I would go to Italy if I could go to Florence… and two weeks before the hand over of the papers the International Mobility Office has news: they created and agreement to the Universitá degli Studi di Firenze!
I had no excuses! The city was pretty central to the biggest cities in Northern Italy, it had an airport with some low cost flights nearby (Pisa, one hour away) and I could learn italian, which would be easier than Danish – and the classes were all in italian (I took my A1+A2 italian course inside ISCTE-IUL, at CCL, and it was pretty cheap! They have many languages in many schedules).
After being there I realized I chose wisely! Florence has some student groups which organize a lot of activities for nice prices, as ESN Florentia and Erasmus Firenze ISF. With them I went to some parties, international dinners where each country should bring typical food, aperitivos and a lot of trips – Trento, Verona, Mantova, Viareggio’s Carnival (there was also a trip to Venice but I preferred this one), San Gimignano, Certaldo, Montiriggione, Napoli, Pompeii, Caserta, Genova, Perugia, Assissi…
The city is amazing, it has a lot to see, a lot of places to discover and though it is a bit expensive, as it is very touristic (check my post “How much does it cost to live in Florence”), all the architecture and history of art students can enter almost all museums for free, not just in Florence but in the whole country. And all your friends will want to take advantage of having free accommodation in one of the most beautiful cities of the world, so expect to have visits all the time.
The part I liked less was the university itself. They were not very organized and I didn’t feel I learnt a lot but there are also advantages: the grades there are always great, if you don’t have more than 28 in 30 you really suck, if you like to work in groups, they do it all the time and though you work a lot, they also give you better grades just because you are an international student (my history teacher gave me a better grade because he liked my photos, his words!)!
If you were in Erasmus in Florence or in Italy and you have any tips or reasons to add, just comment bellow, if you are thinking about going there and still have doubts, don’t be afraid to write me!
So, reasons to go Florence in Erasmus:
- Amazing and central city in Italy
- Learning italian, one of the most beautiful languages of the world – the university actually offers you italian classes after being there
- Good airports nearby with low cost flights, for you to visit other places in Europe or for your friends to come and visit
- Erasmus student groups who organize cheap and amazing trips for you
- A very international environment, where also italians participate in – the majority of my friends there were italian
- Plus: if you are an AFS’er, you can find a lot of support in Intercultura Italia, they are one of the biggest and well working organizations inside the organization