Orientation Day: First Impressions

Today I had orientation at my new school, Accademia Italiana in Florence, Italy. Accademia Italiana is a design school, with specialties in Industrial, Interior, Fashion, and Graphic Design. This means that the school is very focused on providing excellent education in the arts.


Palazzo Pitti from an Accademia Italiana classroom

In the morning, I walked with my roommates to the school for the orientation presentations. I felt incredibly lost and disoriented in the new city of Florence, but every sight I took in was more beautiful and inspiring than the last. We arrived at the school, a four floor campus tucked away among the restaurants and shops across from Palazzo Pitti, the palace where the Medici used to live and host their famous guests! What an incredible location!

All of the study abroad students arrived in the presentation room for our welcoming orientation. The students were comprised of both Americans and international students, some staying for a semester and some for a year program or longer. We met the School’s Director Barbara McHugh, an American born woman who has lived in Italy for the last 30 years, with an Italian husband and half Italian children. We also met Iris Pendlebury, the Student Services Representative, who I believe is originally from Britain. Because of their origins, they both speak perfect English, as well as perfect Italian (and I a few other languages on top of that). Needless to say that communication was not a problem.

We also met some of the other school staff such as the two Secretaries. All of the four faculty we met were incredibly warm, welcoming, helpful, and knowledgeable. I felt like Barbara and Iris were my new Accademia Italiana mothers of sort. 


During the presentation, the faculty taught us about the history of the school, how academics would work, and tips for living in Florence (such as how to be street smart and the best stores for groceries and other necessities). We also received our class schedules. We then broke off into smaller groups for a tour of the campus. The views from the classroom windows were spectacular and indescribable; you can see the vast expanse of building rooftops, the Duomo, and other landmarks. Additionally, the feeling of history and culture from the school’s architecture and classrooms, some with frescoes across the ceiling, was completely unexpected!


Frescoes across the ceiling of a classroom

After the presentation, they provided us with a buffet lunch of pizza, four different kinds of pasta, sodas, and pastries. My first real meal in Italy was amazing! After, Iris and Barbara took us on a tour of the second campus, called the Accademia Italiana Workshops, that is situated across the Arno River. The workshop contains classrooms with working desks, machines, and tools for sewing, woodworking, and fabrication.

After seeing the school and meeting the faculty, a lot of my worries about study abroad disappeared. I’m incredibly excited to start classes and explore more of Florence and Europe!


Walking through the streets of Florence

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