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When in Florence: Your Weekly Guide to Restaurants, Shops, Culture and More

Emily Solley currently studies English Literature at Florida State University. This semester, she’s adventuring abroad to Florence, Italy to study Italian Reading and Conversation, a special topic art history class on the Florentine Renaissance and Comparative Politics: European Union. This column has two purposes. First, to share the opportunity of experiencing a different country with those of you are still in the U.S. (and hopefully convince you to study abroad yourself) and second, to share helpful information with those who are currently studying abroad. This week in “When in Florence,” Emily gives you all of the details on the things you absolutely cannot leave at home!

After spending a month living in Florence, Italy, I’ve learned that the general study abroad packing lists I referenced while haphazardly stuffing clothes and books into my suitcase missed a few things. Each study abroad location offers unique challenges, so I would suggest talking to someone who has spent a good amount of time in your city before deciding what to take with you. Honestly, you will forget something (or if you’re me, you’ll forget everything). Most items can be bought at your destination, but keep in mind that you might not be able to find your favorite brand of shampoo or your go-to snacks. Don’t worry; half of your time studying abroad will be spent adapting to unfamiliar environments, so you will soon be an expert at finding the next best option. As you consider what to fit in your suitcase, here are the five most important things to bring to Florence:

1. An umbrella

It rains often during the spring. While you can buy cheap umbrellas all over the city, they’re flimsy, small, and bound to break after a few uses. While sharing a small umbrella can be a great way to bond with your friends, you’ll be glad you brought an umbrella that’s actually big enough for one person. It is occasionally quite windy, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a wind-resistant umbrella.


Courtesy: Rachel Malinari

2. A rain jacket

Not to repeat myself, but it rains all the time, and wool and cotton coats are a disaster in the rain. Although it doesn’t often rain for extended periods of time and the droplets are relatively small compared to Tallahassee’s, I would love to have a jacket that kept me dry.

3. Plenty of euros

Chances are, your bank will let you exchange currency while in the states without any of the fees you’ll find after using foreign ATM’s. Almost everything is paid for in cash here, which is a big transition from being able to use a card for a purchase of any size in Tallahassee. Another benefit to bringing euros with you is the ability to request small bills, which is more difficult while in Italy.

4. An adapter with multiple input ports

One of the smartest buys I made before travelling was my adapter. It has spots for three separate chargers, which makes it easy to charge both my laptop and phone at the same time. Most buildings in Florence are hundreds of years old, so outlets are placed irregularly and there is no guarantee you will have access to multiple outlets. Rather than worrying about which device you need more, you will be glad that you can plug all of your chargers in the same place.

You will be using your phone as your lifeline for navigation and communication.

Courtesy: Emily A. Solley

5. A camera

I would like to begin by saying that I didn’t bring my camera. I figured that I already had enough expensive technology to worry about, and my phone camera has always taken great pictures. Unfortunately, I wish almost every day that I had packed my camera. As mentioned above, it can be a pain to keep all of your devices charged, especially when travelling. Your day might begin before dawn and end late at night, so between taking pictures, navigating, and communicating, your phone battery is unlikely to last the entire day. Since I waste most of my battery on taking pictures, it would be nice to have a separate way to create memories. 

Emily is a sophomore at Florida State University majoring in English Literature.
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