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Florence Blog & Instagram Sensation: Girl in Florence

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Marist chapter.

Article by Emma Lemay 

Georgette Jupe (Girl in Florence) is a well-known American-expat living and working in Florence, Italy. Her Instagram feed (followed by over 54,000 people) includes numerous pictures of what life in Florence entails –– daily walks past the Duomo and on the Ponte Vecchio, mouthwatering pasta dishes and gelato cones, and cuddles with her adorable beagle, Ginger (@beagleinflorence). Georgette’s personal blog offers a wide variety of suggestions on what to do and where to eat in Florence as well as where to explore in Tuscany and beyond. HC Marist chatted with Girl in Florence over coffee at Ditta Artigianale to hear about her experience of living abroad and advice she has for study abroad students in Firenze.

Name: Georgette Jupe

Home State: Texas

Home City: Florence

Job Title: Freelance blogger and digital marketing strategist

College: California State University, Los Angeles

Major: Communication studies

Minor: Political science

Website: www.girlinflorence.com

Instagram & Twitter Handles: @girlinflorence

HC: It is so cool that you are living in Florence! How long have you been a Florentine for and what drew you to Florence initially?

GJ: Grazie mille! I have been living in Florence since 2007. I can’t believe it’s already been ten years. I studied abroad in Florence for a semester when I was in college at Cal State, Los Angeles. I fell in love with Florence then, and I knew I had to come back.

HC: What does your current job entail?

GJ: I am a freelance writer and digital marketing strategist, so I spend a majority of my time on the computer writing and Skyping with clients and drinking coffee of course!

HC: What are you favorite and least favorite parts about freelance?

GJ: I love the flexibility I have as a freelancer. The flexibility can be addicting! It’s great being able to work on my own schedule and not being trapped in an office. The downside of freelance is the fear of the unknown. I think a lot of freelancers worry about losing clients or not being able to sustain a career in freelance. Freelance has its pros and cons, but I can’t complain about working remotely in Florence.

HC: What does a typical day look like for you?

GJ: I normally wake up around 8 AM and start working immediately, because I’m fresh in the morning. After a couple hours writing in my house, I’ll typically have a meeting somewhere with clients. Then I’ll work some more before grabbing lunch out with a friend or eating lunch at home. My afternoon consists of more writing and freelance work. I try to stop working by 5 PM, because Ginger loves her afternoon passeggiate (walks)! My husband and I eat dinner at home or at one of Florence’s infinite number of restaurants. We often attend events in the city too which are fun and lively.

HC: You’ve been living away from the U.S. for a decade. Impressive! Do you ever miss America? How often do you visit?

GJ: Although I truly love and appreciate my life in Florence, I do miss my family and friends, quality Mexican food, and cultural things like driving around San Antonio and stopping at garage sales. I usually go back to the U.S. once a year. My husband and I want to explore more of the country!

HC: You’ve studied abroad in Florence and lived in Florence after earning a college degree. What would you say is the biggest difference between the two?

GJ: Studying as a college student and living here as an adult are vastly different. Living abroad for a longer period of time is a different form of culture shock than coming here for a semester or year. I think the most challenging part to cope with is loneliness. When you’re a student, you’re surrounded by other students to live with, learn with, and hang out with. When you’re on your own, you have to put in the effort to make friends, which can be very hard in a foreign place, and create a lifestyle that works for you. Not to mention the permesso (permit to stay), work visa, apartment search, and legal components are challenges within themselves!

HC: You are fluent in Italian and English, and you’re learning French. How long did it take for you to become fluent in Italian? Can I become fluent in a semester?

GJ: It took me about a year to become fluent in Italian. I studied extensively and took many classes in Florence. Plus, I practiced as much as I could. People don’t realize how much English is spoken in Florence. Once people identify you as American, they speak to you in English. As a result, I think it’s very hard to become fluent in Italian in just a few months. If you’re determined to become fluent, you really have to study it and force yourself to only use Italian.

HC: You launched your blog, Girl in Florence, in 2012 and have organically accumulated quite the audience. What advice do you have for people who want to start their own blogs?

GJ: I would definitely say it is important to have a niche and to develop a blog revolving around that. Stay consistent with your idea(s) and make a loose editorial plan! In the beginning, you should not focus on gaining a huge following. That will come in time! Also, I remind myself that I am a blogger with opinions, not facts. As a blogger, you have to expect to get comments and feedback that won’t always be positive. Use criticism either to be opinion less or to discover your own voice.

HC: The photos on your blog are eye catching! Do you take your own photos?

GJ: Yes! I highly recommend upping your photography game if you have a blog. Ask questions and people for help, because it will only help you improve.

HC: Where are some places I need to see in Italy?

GJ: Levanto, Urbino, and the Val d’Orcia region.

HC: How about in Europe?

GJ: Explore Eastern Europe! Budapest, Prague, and Croatia are some of my favorite cities.

HC: Where are places to eat in Florence that don’t exceed the meager student budget?

GJ: Trattoria Sergio Gozzi, Trattoria La Casalinga, Osterdia dell’Enoteca, and Cibreo Teatro del Sale. Most restaurants offer a great lunch deal!

HC: What are some things I need to see/do in Florence?

GJ: Check out the San Frediano district (camp out at La Cite to study), visit the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo and the Innocenti Museum, hike up to Villa Bardini and spend time in the gardens there, and splurge on a private tour of a museum to learn more about Florence.

HC: What advice can you offer to study abroad students?

GJ: My advice is to not get caught up with what your friends are doing back home, because it will prevent you from being in the moment here in Florence (where your time is limited). I recommend to learn about Italian culture beforehand (like not drinking a cappuccino past 11 AM), don’t immediately speak English at stores and cafes (your basic phrases can take you a long way), and always use the buddy system at night. Know your limits so you’re not ‘those Americans’!

HC: Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to talk to HC Marist. If I have questions regarding Florence or see you and Ginger on the cobblestone streets can I write you and introduce myself?

GJ: Absolutely! I love talking to American abroad students. Head on over to: www.girlinflorence.com and have an incredible semester. Ciao ciao!

Anna Marotta is a Junior at Marist College where she is studying Marketing. She is extremely right-brained and loves to write, create, and travel. You can find Anna with her ten best friends at Lola's Cafe or stalking dogs on Marist Beach. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram! @annarosemarotta