Fahad Nabi (he/him) - Stanford in Florence
Major: Symbolic Systems (Human-Centered AI)
College year while abroad: Senior
Questions and Answers with Fahad
Why did you choose to study abroad in Florence?
Where do I start? From the amazing food to the Italian language to Renaissance art/architecture, Florence was the perfect place for me to explore such passions. Coming in with one year of Italian really enriched my interactions with local Italians and overall experience.
What were your expectations before you went and how did those change once you arrived in Florence?
Although I expected to travel a lot to other cities in Italy and Europe, I soon learned that there is so much Florence has to offer - all of which I ended up taking advantage of on weekends. Whether you want to check out pop-up vintage shops, watch rowers on the Arno, try a new gelato spot, or visit a historical monument (e.g. Uffizi, Palazzo Vecchio, Boboli Gardens, Basilica di San Lorenzo, etc), Florence is truly the place to immerse yourself in history, art, and fashion.
What were some of the academic benefits from studying abroad in Florence?
While in Italy, I was able to venture out of my typical, technical course load at Stanford and explore other passions that really excite me (i.e., art history or an Italian cooking class). One of my favorite courses was "Florence and the Renaissance: The 15th Century" with Timothy Verdon, a well-renowned art historian and priest in Florence. Having the class tailored around site visits to art museums like the Uffizi or historical piazzas truly made for an immersive learning experience like no other.
What did you learn about yourself while you were studying abroad?
It is not as difficult as I think to make friends from a completely different culture. Even though I did not grow up Italian, there were many shared activities and interests I uncovered when I began to bond with local Italians my age! Nurturing these friendships allowed me to live like a local, improve my own Italian, and uncover hidden gems in the city!
What was the most challenging experience you encountered while you were abroad and what did you learn from it?
Lost my wallet. Or, most probably pickpocketed. I had to take the appropriate steps and file an Italian police report at the local station (namely, denuncia di furto). But, I also did catch someone mid-way while he was trying to grab my phone. Lesson Learned: Don't keep items in your back pocket and always stay vigilant of your surroundings. Be careful out there!
What was the biggest cultural adjustment you had to make?
Long, long dinners! Italians love to take their time with their meals. Whether it be a mid-day aperitivo or late-night dinner, you can expect to spend at least 1-2 hours socializing and making talk with the people around you. Coming from a culture that is relatively fast paced, it was a breath of fresh air to live the art of slow living.
What was your favorite part of your everyday life in Florence?
Florence is a very walkable city. My daily walk to class was alone a one-hour round trip from one end of the city to the other! But, I really loved it because it forced me to slow down and take in the surrounding beauty of the city every single day. I made it a point to take different routes to see the city from as many different angles as I could.
What was the most memorable experience you had while you were in Florence?
One of my favorite moments was having dinner with my CIAO host family - Barbara, Lorenzo and their two children Maria and Giovanni. Barbara works in the cultural heritage field and Lorenzo works in the environmental field for Italy’s National Research Council. It was exciting to be able to carry out an entire dinner table conversation in Italian, contrast the American educational system with that of Maria Sole and Giovanni's (who attend scientific middle and high schools), and learn about their family olive oil/wine company.
What 5 words would you use to describe your experience?
A remake of my worldview.
What was your favorite food you had in Florence?
Trattoria Zaza - Beef Tenderloin with a Special Cream Sauce with Green Peppercorns, Cognac, and Rosemary. Won't regret!
What was the most valuable item you took with you on the program?
Rain Jacket/Coat! You'll need it.
What was your favorite music/band that you discovered in Florence?
I really loved attending my first ever opera at the Teatro del Maggio Fiorentino, where we watched Giuseppe Verdi’s Il Trovatore.