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Isabella Saracco

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Isabella Saracco, Bolzano

Isabella Saracco (she/her) - Stanford in Florence

Major: History
Minors: Creative Writing
College year while abroad: Junior
About the photo: This photo was taken in front of Castle Mareccio, in Bolzano/Bolzen, a city in the South Tyrol region of Italy. I visited on one of the long weekends of the quarter; getting to travel the country and learn about the cultural diversity within Italy was one of my favorite parts of the program. South Tyrol was incredibly different from Florence--it's a bilingual region, and everything was in both Italian and German!

Questions and Answers with Isabella

Why did you choose to study abroad in Florence?

I studied Italian language and history for years, and was very excited to learn more about the language and culture.

What were your expectations before you went and how did those change once you arrived in Florence?

One thing that I didn't expect going into the program was how many things there would be to do in Florence. While I knew that there were lots of great tourist sites, I didn't realize how vibrant city life would be outside of these popular destinations. From the soccer games and restaurants to art fairs and film fests, Florence is truly a city that you could never get bored in.

What were some of the academic benefits from studying abroad in Florence?

Being able to immerse myself in the language was an incredible experience, as was waking up surrounded by history every day. Seeing the places that I read about in class was amazing. I also learned so much about areas I had not studied before; Professor Verdon's art history course was my introduction to that field. Getting to explore new disciplines in an immersive environment was incredible.

What did you learn about yourself while you were studying abroad?

One thing that I learned about myself is how easily I am able to make friends! At the beginning of the program, I was nervous about having the repeat the freshman year experience of scrambling to meet people again. But before I knew it, I had met a great group of people that I know I will continue to be friends with at Stanford's home campus.

What was the most challenging experience you encountered while you were abroad and what did you learn from it?

The most challenging experience I had abroad was being catcalled. Before living in Florence, I had not spent much time walking around cities, so this was the first time I had experienced this type of harassment to this extent. While certainly unpleasant, I learned to manage the situation by spending more time walking in groups, as I felt more comfortable this way.

What was the biggest cultural adjustment you had to make?

Not making eye contact while walking down the street! One of the first things I learned in Florence was that making eye contact and smiling at strangers on the street was unusual, and can even be seen as a type of flirting.

What was your favorite part of your everyday life in Florence?

Walking to class. The path I took everyday took me past incredible sites like the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio, and a great gelato shop! The daily gelato was an integral part of what made walking to class my favorite everyday activity.

What was the most memorable experience you had while you were in Florence?

My most memorable experience was visiting San Marino with a group of friends. The day we visited, the air was full of fog. Spending the day up in the mountains exploring the city's castle and woods, completely surrounded by fog, was such a magical experience. It really felt as if we had been transported to some alternate dimension.

What 5 words would you use to describe your experience?

History, Fun, Amazing, Informative, Tasty

What was your favorite food you had in Florence?

My favorite food I had while abroad was actually in Naples. For my cohort's Bing trip, we travelled to southern Italy and visited Naples, Pompeii, and Capri! Naples in an incredible city for street food, and I will never forget the fried calzone I had for lunch. I might have teared up while eating it.

What was the most valuable item you took with you on the program?

My umbrella. I studied abroad in Spring quarter, and it was definitely still a rainy city in the beginning of our program.

What was your favorite music/band that you discovered in Florence?

Mahmood! One of the perks of the Florence program is that students who have studied Italian for over a year get funding for a cultural event of their choosing. In my cohort, we decided to go to a Mahmood concert together, which was such a fun experience!