Placement blogs

Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences' students share their placement and year abroad experiences.

Topic: Politics, Languages & International Studies

Light Up Shoes and Goodbyes

📥  2016-17, Politics, Languages & International Studies

Two days ago, it was finally time: laden down a heavy sense of sadness and three bags filled with DVDs, I left the NBCU building for my final time as an intern. However, I’m not entirely sure that it will truly be my last time there.

Initially, I applied for my Politics with Economics degree without a sandwhich year included. However, I quickly changed my mind after listening to former students’ experiences and switched courses within my first month (although my library card technically says that I graduate tomorrow). I know that the optional nature of the placement can be a challenging decision for some PwE students and I figured, as an absolute worst case scenario, that at least I would find out career I absolutely did not want.

Thankfully, that hasn’t been the case throughout the past thirteen months at NBCU. I applied for a role in the Research department because I hoped that it would give me insight into the workings of a large media company and the industry beyond. Without a doubt, he work I did in the Digital Research team gave me that. Through analysing networks’ websites, I was able to look into the performance of editorial content across different countries and consider what made a good article or video. With social media analytics, I was able to track the progress of company accounts and TV shows whilst gaining skills in reporting and presenting. Working with online transactional film and TV data made me consider how people like to consume their favourite content, with such a plethora of online options available. All of this  gave me day-to-day skills in industry standard software as well as the opportunity to attend conferences about the overall future of media.

My final lunch with the Digital Research team - where I received my stellar gifts

Throughout all this, I felt that one big question kept popping up - how do we make media continue to be engaging when technology is changing so fast? My placement has certainly given me a partial answer to this, whether it be through developing VR content or streaming events directly to Facebook live. I wasn’t anticipating to be so drawn in by the potential for media on different digital platforms, but what I’ve learnt already has inspired me to change the route that I initially wanted my career to take. I hope to continue to try and answer that question through a Masters in Digital Journalism, a step differing slightly from my placement in its focus on content creation rather than analytics.

Furthermore, I’m glad that I was able to undergo all of this whilst still a student. Whilst I’m sure the internship would have still been immensely valuable as a graduate, I feel that the placement has allowed me to gain a far clearer picture of my career options and will vastly improve my final year trajectory. I think it has added value to my degree and I would, without hesitation, recommend anyone to opt in for a work placement year.

The Research Interns' leaving drinks. Not pictured: amazing light up shoes.

Of course, all things must end - so on Thursday night the other Research interns and I hosted our leaving drinks and began to say our goodbyes. I was gifted a miniature drum kit for my desk, a pair of light up trainers and a collection of Keane’s greatest hits (apparently because I’m always so keen). Friday felt a bit like leaving school again; saying goodbye to all the people I saw every day whilst everyone wished me good luck for University. That being said, I know I’ll be seeing plenty of these people again (in some cases, at a BBQ in a week) and would absolutely love to work for the company again. For now at least, I know it’s the end of my placement year - and I couldn’t have wished for a better one.

 

Pride in London and Glitter Letters

📥  2016-17, Politics, Languages & International Studies

It’s safe to say that when I first marched at Pride in London three years ago, I never anticipated that I would spend the parade on a giant purple NBCU bus whilst singing along to the Universal Pictures theme music in the wrong key. As it turns out, the Universal Pictures theme sounds a little like the Star Wars theme if you sing it badly enough – a thing I discovered when dancing on said bus at Pride this weekend.

Can you tell we like purple?

My role on the OUT London committee meant that I was plenty busy for the company’s Pride week celebrations, which involved a panel on LGBT+ representation in the media, a screening of Atomic Blonde and a party held on the 10th floor of our office. I was largely involved with the latter, initially motivated by a love of glitter and a good dance. After our first party-planning meeting, we were initially anticipating a struggle to get 100 guests. We were greatly proven wrong when the sign up page reached the 260 person capacity fairly quickly.

This year's company Pride slogan - "Love is Universal" - but in glitter.

One of the main issues was getting decorations on a tight budget (relatively speaking, certainly higher than my budgets when I was organising for MusicSoc) and so I had to go a touch DIY, spending lunchtimes sticking glitter onto heart canvases (Art GCSE clearly came in useful) and getting my team to help assemble a 5 metre balloon arch. Again, such a scale of event planning wasn’t something I had anticipated happening within my placement, and it was daunting but ultimately rewarding. Highlights including drinking an LGBT cocktail (Lemon Gin and Blackberry Tonic) and getting some incredibly unflattering photos in the photobooth I arranged.

 

I am so glad that this sits on my desk to watch me during work.

For the parade itself, my main role was to publish content on the NBCU International Twitter and Instagram pages. Whilst this wasn’t the first time I’d tweeted from a company account, the sheer volume of content expected from the event presented a challenge. However, it didn’t get in the way of me handing out branded flags, having a dance on the top deck of the bus and generally having a fantastic day.

It helps when your colleagues are willing to model for you.

This was my first march with a company, but it was honestly wonderful to spend the day with the people who have been such a big part of my life in the past year. I was also able to bring my sister with me for her first Pride ever – I think her enthusiasm is best shown in a photo where you can’t see my face because she is waving her rainbow flag too strongly – which meant that it was also the first time I spent Pride with family.

The snap my coworker took of the bus - I am second to the right at the corner of the bus. At least I can tell it's me.

All of this makes me think back to my second blogpost where I describe seeing the bus at the parade last year. In particular, how welcoming everyone has been throughout my time here. This makes the fact that this is my last week before my handover period with the next intern (another Bath student – the best option, of course) a little strange to me. Things are quickly becoming “lasts” when it often feels like my time with the company shouldn’t be winding down. Throughout my blogs, it might seem that I overuse phrases akin to “time has flown by” but it feels like this past year has simultaneously been immensely changing yet gone by in the blink of an eye.

My next post will be when I’ve fully finished my placement and I’ll give more of a wrap up of Digital Research. Until then, I’ll be enjoying my final three weeks to the fullest!

 

Year Abroad VIII – final thoughts

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📥  2016-17, Politics, Languages & International Studies

 

Siena, Italy                                                                                        June, 2017

Ciao!

Today marks a month until I leave Siena, where I have been doing my Erasmus study exchange for five months as part of my Year Abroad. I’m getting all the feels. I don’t want to leave. And I’m thinking of all the things this year has taught me. Here are some of them.

The Year Abroad is more about improving yourself than improving a language.

I feel like there is a lot of pressure on the Year Abroad and returning with close-to-native language skills when the reality is a lot different. Not just because each one of us is doing different activities or spending it in different locations, but because achieving native levels just by immersion is very hard, even if you try to be as active and engaged as you can. If you’ve never spoken the language before, it is easy to track the progress: being able to order at a restaurant or sort out paperwork feels like a milestone. But when you are a language student and have been learning the language for a couple of years, improving in a way that is noticeable is hard. I personally don’t find my French to be much better than when I left the UK. I have definitely improved in listening and reading comprehension and have expanded my vocabulary, but not as much as I thought I would. So don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself and just have fun with it. Don’t be afraid to talk and make mistakes, but also don’t centre on having to improve continuously. The Year Abroad and life are more than that.

Siena will now have a special place in my heart.

Siena will now have a special place in my heart.

The best things I’ve gained this year are more confidence in myself and greater independence.

More than the language side of things, I feel like my greatest achievement this year has been to discard my shyness and put myself out there. I had to do that when I first moved to England for university and that already felt like a massive milestone. This year I’ve had to do it twice, in completely different countries and I’m proud of myself for doing it (introverts, do you feel me?). I’ve learnt to make mistakes without being embarrassed about it because that is how you best learn in this life. I’ve learnt that there’s nothing to lose by approaching new people, the worst that might happen is that they won’t be interested, but you will have given it a shot and have no regrets about what could have happened. If you don’t try, you’ll never win! I really encourage you to try to socialize as much as possible as, if I’ve realized something (more like, completely confirmed) this year is that it’s not about the place you are in - ok, it does make a difference if you are in a big city than a little isolated town but hear me out-, it’s about the people you meet along the way.

Fécamp was such a lovely place to experience France.

Fécamp was such a lovely place to experience France (also, I cooked paella for the first time!).

It’s the people you meet during this adventure that will shape your experience of the Year Abroad.

Clearly, the place you end up in will have a lot to do in creating a good or bad experience of the Year Abroad. If you are a very active and outgoing person and end up in a town in the middle of nowhere, it might not be the best experience. However, at the end of the day, it’s up to you to make new friends and meet new people (in and around the area), but also to choose who you want to become closer with.

Shout-out to Manu, Gillian, Moni and Liam!

Shout-out to Manu, Gill, Moni and Liam!

In France I was in a little coastal town in Normandy and my fondest memories will always be of those I met, be at the school or elsewhere. Parties at the Mill, funny classroom anecdotes, long evening dinners and exploring the town with the other two stagiaires.

Thank-you everybody for making my Erasmus a great one!

Thank-you everybody for making my Erasmus a great one!

In Siena this is even more relevant as most of my friends are other Erasmus students who, like me, are only here for a limited amount of time. My image of Siena is an image in which I’m enjoying the city with all those people I’ve met over the past five months, and that is an image that belongs in this exact moment and will not repeat itself, which leads to my next point.

Ancora degli amici a Siena.

Ancora degli amici a Siena.

Enjoy every moment and grab each opportunity.

The Year Abroad is all about new experiences and learning first hand, so it’s up to you to challenge yourself. Make a list or just head out of the door and explore. Try new foods, new hobbies, go to new places, talk to strangers, get out of your comfort zone. The Year Abroad is an amazing opportunity to push your boundaries – you get to live abroad and meet a lot of new people and you’ll learn to adapt to different lifestyles, so try to make the most of it. You don’t have to become a party animal if you’re the type who enjoys staying in for a chill night, but don’t miss out on events that attract your interest. I ended up joining the student newspaper here in Siena because I saw a recruiting event on Facebook. At first I wasn’t sure because I didn’t really want to show up on my own, but I pulled it together and went anyway and I’ve met a lot of cool people through it and improved my Italian!

I've joined a student newspaper, acted in a French short film and given an improv speech in Italian!

I've joined a student newspaper, acted in a French short film and given an improv speech in Italian!

That being said, you’re allowed to say you’re not having or didn’t have a great Year Abroad.

Hopefully this will not be the case, because it would be a pity, but everybody feels down and questions what they are doing with their lives at some point. Battling homesickness and culture shock is hard and sometimes (especially with the British Council Assistantship), you have no control over where you will end up. Maybe the idea you had of your host country doesn’t live up to your expectations, maybe you don’t really feel like you fit in. And it’s ok. You can ask for support if you need it, but honestly try to battle through. It’s also about being counteractive, especially in cities full of people or small towns. Perhaps it will only be a phase and it will get better, but you have to battle through in order to find out.

And, lastly, you will learn to value your own country.

I only started truly valuing the good aspects of Spain when I moved to England to start my degree. Things like the warmer approach of people in everyday life, the food I can find in the supermarket or the amount of daylight and sun we get throughout the year in comparison to the United Kingdom. Here in Italy I have learnt to value British education even further; oral exams seem like such an inefficient way to go about examinations when a two hour exam would save us all the hassle and long hours of wait for our turn. A lot of my British friends have told me innumerable times how they now appreciate the UK in ways they didn’t before: politeness, the punctuality of transport and efficiency of bureaucracy, just to name a bunch. You never know what you have until you lose it, right?

Thank-you again!

Thank-you again!

All in all, the Year Abroad is an opportunity to grow and have fun before the stress of final year and I hope to have captured that in my blog posts. Hopefully you will also fall in love with the countries that host you and perhaps you will be back after you graduate.

Year Abroad, you have been a great eye and mind-opening experience, you have taught me many things about life and myself and have pushed my boundaries, you’ve been a blast and I am proud to know I’ve made the most of it. Hope all of those embarking on their own adventure do too.

Peace out.

Zoe

 

Ciao, Napoli, e la fine dell'anno all'estero

📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

It's time to leave! And what a year it's been...

This blog has been an amazing way of reflecting daily on the amazing and surreal experiences I have had during my year abroad and being able to look back on it in the future will be something I'll always be grateful for. It has had pretty high ups and pretty low downs, but I wouldn't change it for a minute. I have learnt so much and become so much more of a better person than I was before my year abroad, thanks to the amazing people and opportunities I have encountered along the way. I wanted this blog to stay very positive and enjoyable, which was an easy feat in France, but a few weeks into Naples I realised that it was a better idea to be completely honest about my experiences, even if they are not all smiles and sunshine!

France was the best 6 months of my life. The country, the food and the culture were amazing, but what made it incredible were the people. My incredible housemates, who went miles out of their way to help me fit in and make sure I always had a social life, will be people I have only been more grateful for since I have lived in Naples which is a completely different experience. Aix is the best city I have been to, and I will and do miss it more than I can say. I can't wait for when I return in the future, and hope I can see all the amazing people I met there again. Sure, sometimes things were mildly frustrating at the start with university admin problems, but these were barely problems, and even at the time I knew every problem I faced was outshined by the fantastic atmosphere of the city given by the people that inhabited it. Aix will always be in my mind!

Naples was a very different story. I always expected Italy to be more fun than France, although I don't really know why I thought this. There were times in Naples that I nearly gave up and left. But every erupting volcano, knife threat, pickpocket, harassment and university issue taught me something invaluable. While my housemate learnt how to be truly sassy and never let that city win (I'm so proud of her for this) I learnt to truly, truly appreciate every good thing that comes my way, and to stay positive after even the hardest, scariest day. Little things in Naples truly blessed me each day, whether it was one teacher at university giving me some long-agonized-over advice, a kind stranger out and about or even just the sheer beauty of the volcanic, historic, beach-side mash of cultures and language that is Naples. I am proud to say I got through everything it threw at me and am still smiling at the end!

So all in all, this year has toughened me up, but most importantly has taught me to be always grateful, positive and happy no matter what life throws at me. I am grateful for English culture, admin - even food! - more than I ever thought possible. And if I ever forget this life lesson, it is immortalised in my blog to remind me.

Aix, Naples... Ciao and au revoir!

 

Campi Flegrei

📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

Campi Flegrei is the name of both the next metro stop from my house and the supervolcano that looms over the stop. It is beautiful but pretty scary since there have been articles in the news recently about how it is on course to erupt... Hopefully this will not affect our flights home and will not be worth worrying about! Italy and this region in particular is famed for the beauty of its hilly, volcanic land, but it can be pretty scary to think about what has happened to the area in the past due to volcanoes, and what is happening currently in the central region with earthquakes.

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/campi-flegrei-supervolvano-eruption-vesuvius-naples-pozzuoli-christopher-kilburn-a7737886.html

 

Ma staje pazziann?

📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

This means “are you kidding me” in Neapolitan, and crossed my mind today when my phone charger and laptop broke in the same day, then I burnt my thumb on the oven. To be honest I just laugh about these things now, if that is the worst that happens today then I’ll take it!

I’m looking forward to booking my flights home to England sadly, as much I am trying to keep this city in my good books. Too much has happened for me to totally love it here but it could be so so so much worse and I am well aware of that! The thing I dislike most is the loneliness, because I love talking to anyone and everyone and making friends, and that was my favourite thing about Aix but I can’t do that here. However, it makes me appreciate the friends I do have and all my amazing friends and family back home and in other places this year, they are all amazing and have helped me through some bumpy journeys this semester!

 

Non male che sia andato bene

📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

This is a phrase that means something along the lines of “all’ well that ends well”. I learned it today when my landlord came over after not speaking to me out of sheer awkwardness for the last two months. He apologized for what he’d done at least, but then tried to get an extra months rent out of us that we are not supposed to pay, inexplicably for the month after we will leave. My housemate Georgia dealt with him like a pro, and stood her ground beautifully.

I think we are both learning lessons here in Naples that I couldn’t have learnt in Aix even though I had a better time. Georgia has discovered a sassy side brought on by the all the little bits of rubbish we have to deal with from people here every day. I still have the soft, naive outlook that I give everyone the benefit of the doubt and look on my time here with optimism, but I am learning to deal with the more serious things that have gone wrong here, and for me it has put everything outside of Naples into perspective. I am so, so grateful for my time in Aix, and my little trips to other places in Italy, and when I meet someone who is genuine and kind without an ulterior motive here, I appreciate it more than I ever could have. And I still think it is better than I’m honest about my time here for the benefit of future students.

 

Siena!

📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

Today I woke up in Siena after staying with Emilia who is doing her Erasmus semester there. And what a beautiful city!!!!!!

It reminds me a lot of Aix. It is tiny, but I like that, because there is a real sense of community both among the locals with the contrada festivities and the students, who are everywhere. You are free to sit where you like in the day, and go out at night safely. The buildings are beautiful and the nature is stunning and the food was amazing!

I met a few others from Bath while I was there (big up Chris, Zoe and Megan!) and it was sooooo nice to see them, I’ve really missed my class in Bath and I love how you can just wander round in Siena and bump into people because of its size. There was no sense of danger anywhere and it was just so picturesque and beautiful. I would love to go back one day! Thank you everyone I saw there for making it so great!

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Year Abroad VII – tips on travelling around Italy

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📥  2016-17, Politics, Languages & International Studies

 

Siena, Italy                                                                                        May, 2017

Ciao! When I decided to do an Erasmus study exchange in Italy as the second half of my Year Abroad, one thing was clear: I wanted to travel as much as I could. In a country like Italy in which every region is so different from the neighbouring one, it is amazing to be able to go and explore new areas, as there is such diversity. But, how to do this on a student budget? Here are my tips for travelling around.

Choose the right time

First of all, the ideal Erasmus situation is having a timetable in which you have a long weekend. That is, you have either Mondays or Fridays free and so end up with a three-day-long weekend. This would give you more time to travel, but is not always possible. In my case, I don’t have a long weekend, but I can catch up on my Friday lessons easily so I can miss a Friday once in a while… Try to find the timetables for each module when choosing your units, but don’t fret if you can’t do a long weekend – you will find the time to travel anyway!

In addition to that, the time of the year also affects the prices of the tickets. I’ve been in Italy since the end of January and back when it was still winter it used to rain a lot, which is not ideal when you plan on walking around new cities. I’d say the best time to travel is probably late-March to early May: the weather is a lot nicer but the ‘tourist’ season isn’t full-blown yet. Now, you will always find tourists in Italy, no matter the time of the year as it is non-seasonal tourism, but in order to avoid the masses and extortionate prices definitely avoid travelling in late Spring-Summer.

Travelling during the official holidays can also be tricky. First, because obviously everybody travels then so there is a ridiculous rise in prices during that period, but also because it can be hard to nail down the actual dates. In Siena’s case, our Easter holidays were actually only four days long and were followed by a few school days before a pause in the lessons during the April appello or exam period. In theory, the lessons would be on during those days in between, but in reality, a lot of the teachers cancelled their classes and so we actually had around a week and a half of holidays if you were not planning on sitting any exams in that appello period. I’d suggest trying to speak to local students in years 2 or above, as they have more experience of the system, so you have a clear idea of the dates and can book your holidays in advance and save money (whether it be travelling around Italy or going back home).

Transport

There are many ways to travel around Italy, but choosing the right one will depend on the distance you are trying to cover and the time you have available.

For example, if I wanted to visit the Tuscan towns around Siena, the ideal thing would be to have a car. Car Rental companies are incredibly expensive for rookie drivers, so unless you are a big group in which all chip in or you know a local person with a car, this is an option available but hard to realize. You can also travel by bus, which is very cheap, but at least in this part of Italy the public transport connections are poorly structured, with journeys taking a couple of hours to cover only a few kilometres and very limited timetables.

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If you are planning on visiting places in nearby regions, try the coaches or pullman services which are very popular. They are generally cheaper than trains and sometimes even take less time! I’ve been using FlixBus quite a lot, which covers a huge range of different cities. From Siena, I’ve been able to go to Bologna and Perugia using FlixBus and spending around 20 euros both ways. Another coach service that seems to be popular here is Baltour, but I haven’t used that one yet. It’s just a matter of looking into routes and prices! And, of course, booking in advance!

Another option is to use Blablacar. I personally can’t review this service as I’ve never used it, but I’ve heard good things about it. However, use your common sense – it might not the best option if you are travelling on your own, as it involves a car share with strangers.

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A pricier option is taking the train. However, high speed trains are worth it if you are planning to go somewhere that is far away – they are quicker than coaches. Trenitalia works quite well in my opinion, but delays and trains being cancelled is not something unheard of, so beware if you are going somewhere that requires a couple of changes along the way. Another alternative is to fly to your destination. If you are in Siena you will know that your closest airports are in Florence or Pisa though, requiring you to take the train or bus in order to reach it anyway. So, unless you actually have a few days to spare, I wouldn’t choose to go anywhere too far away – it is worth staying somewhere nearer and having more time to explore!

Accommodation

In terms of finding where to stay, hotels are clearly an option but not the most budget-friendly. If you are travelling in a small group, look into youth hostels – they can be a fun experience if you are not too fussed about sharing rooms with strangers and you can meet all sorts of people.

However, my favourite option is Airbnb. I’ve used this platform a few times now and I find it the most convenient for me as it gives me the option of finding a private room within a flat – sort of like a hotel – but cheaper. I always look for an Airbnb with access to a kitchen, so I can have breakfast before heading out or cook dinner and save a few euros. If you’ve never tried Airbnb, it’s definitely worth a shot! All the experiences I’ve had so far have been great and you can find real gems out there.

This particular Airbnb in Bologna had an amazing library!

This particular Airbnb in Bologna had an amazing library!

Of course, if you know someone in the area, they might be able to host you for a few nights too – that would be the ideal situation as you would also know a local to suggest things to do!

Travel companions

In my opinion, the ideal group would either be a couple (2 people) or a larger group of 4. Of course, the amount of people travelling will not only influence your options for travel and accommodation, but will also make it harder or easier to decide what you will be doing each day. I wouldn’t try to put together a group with more than five members because, unless you are in the same mind-set and financial situation, it will probably be hard to get organized and make decisions on what to do, where to eat… My travel buddy in Italy is Megan, a course mate from Bath who is also doing her exchange here. You will probably end up travelling with somebody foreign, because not a lot of Italians seem to have the time or interest in travelling as much as you plan to over your Year Abroad, which is understandable. We make a good team because we both have similar interests and expectations about travelling in Italy. Also, she is the foodie who does the research on local food to try and where to go, whilst I do the cultural research on sightseeing itineraries and museums – great combo!

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To sum it up, think about whom you want to travel with and the pros and cons of your group size. Of course, solo travelling is also an option and, by all means, I would encourage everybody to travel on their own at least once in their life, but use your common sense and be safe about it.

Extra tips

A couple of extra trips I have about travelling around Italy:

·         Write a bucket-list. Usually it will not be a very realistic bucket list (at least mine isn’t), as you will probably jot down way too many places for the amount of time you really have. However, it will give you an idea of where you want to go, if you can join different destinations that are close together (for instance, I went to Bologna for a weekend and spent one of the days in Parma) and ticking off places is always satisfying!

·         State Museums or Musei Statali are generally free-of-charge on the first Sunday of each month, so make the most of it. For instance, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence is free, but the queue is massive so set aside some time!

·         Always ask for student discounts – use your Italian badge or student ID to get discounts at most museums. I’ve found that, in general, there are fewer discounts than in the UK, but it’s always worth a shot!

·         Do your research – look online before your trip and make a list of places you want to visit or recommendations for places to eat. There are so many blogs online written by locals that can give you a great insight into the place you’ll be visiting. Alternatively, don’t be afraid to ask your hosts or if you know anybody from the area (which is likely, since at University you will encounter so many studenti fuorisede) on their personal suggestions! It’s the students who know where to get the best apericena in town!

·         Make a rough plan of what you will be doing each day, particularly if you are only going away for the weekend. This way you will use your time efficiently and make the most of your stay.

·         Finally, and in contrast with the previous point, don’t be afraid to improvise! The best stories usually begin with a change of plans!

Look out for local food - the panpepato in Pisa is so yummy!

Look out for local food - the panpepato in Pisa is so yummy!

Hope you’ve found this post useful. Travelling is one of the best opportunities the Year Abroad offers you, so try to make the most of it! Happy exploring!

Alla prossima!

Zoe

 

 

Firenze !

📥  Politics, Languages & International Studies

Today I went to Florence! I was so excited! I saw Emilia again and had dinner with a lady that I stayed with when I studied in Florence for a month a couple of years ago. It was soooooo lovely being back, I have missed it and will definitely return before I leave Italy. Throughout the whole of dinner the lady was asking me why on earth I chose Naples for Erasmus and telling me how dangerous it was and how silly I am… whoops. But Florence was as gorgeous as ever, and I managed to see all the main bits before I left on a train for Siena that night with Emilia.

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