A weekend away in Florence

Gemma Sturt, Università degli Studi di Firenze, IT

Here’s how to spend a weekend like a local and get a flavor of what its really like to live in the world’s most beautiful renaissance city….


After a long week of uni lectures or working on lab placement (having done both, I still couldn’t tell you which is the lesser of two evils) I usually arrive back to the centre in the evening just in time to catch up with my housemates and see who’s around for the weekend. Since everyone is usually pretty shattered we tend to keep Fridays chilled and make our way up to Piazzale Michelangelo when it’s a bit cooler outside – there’s a steep walk to the top but the cityscape views, especially over a summer sunset, are not to be missed. My favourite way to spend a relaxing Friday night is watching the sun go down with a bottle of red wine and a takeaway pizza. This year we were even lucky enough to see it in the snow too!

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Facing the challenges of learning a new language abroad

Gemma Sturt, Università degli Studi di Firenze (IT)

They say that all things worth having don’t come without hard work, and this has never been more true in the case of studying abroad in a second language.

Coping with learning Italian on the go and developing my communication skills have been the most fundamental aspects of my experience studying abroad and easily the biggest hurdles I’ve had to overcome as a Erasmus science student trying to get to grips with living and studying in my second (tentative) language.

When I moved out to Italy last August I immediately found talking in Italian quite challenging, partially because I hadn’t been able to develop a totally solid foundation before I left and also due to the large difference in learning style between Chemistry (my degree) and that associated with learning a new language. I decided to come over to Florence early to attend daily Italian classes in the weeks running up to the start of my courses, which I have to say helped me immeasurably. I’d recommend doing something similar to anyone wanting to start from a strong position at the beginning of the semester.

If all else fails getting the point across between the Italian/Spanish/English, a quick game of charades never goes amiss…


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How study abroad changed my approach to relationships

By Gemma Sturt

Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy


With deadlines and the next bout of exams just around the corner, I’m finding that I have less and less free time in my day for getting out there to meet new people and solidifying existing friendships on my year abroad.

Here’s why I learned to reach back out to friends in the UK instead:



Pizza, pasta and everything in between

By Gemma Sturt, Università degli Studi di Firenze, IT

Someone once told me that there are three cornerstones to Italian culture; Food, Family and Football; and not necessarily in that order. So far in my time abroad I have found that this holds (mostly) true and so I’ve decided that this year offers the perfect opportunity to dive head first into learning about traditional & regional Italian cuisine – partly for self-immersion and to experience as much local culture as possible, and partly to finally learn how to cook…

Naturally I couldn’t live in Italy for a year and not write at least one blog post about food – so here it is! Unsurprisingly Florence has turned out to be a bit of a foodie’s paradise so read on to hear  what I’ve learned so far about local Florentine traditions and my own personal experiences of trying my hand at classic recipes.

Italy has so much more to offer than pizza, pasta and ice cream (although there’s no denying we’ve all had our fair share by this point…)


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Adjusting to studying at UniFi

By Gemma Sturt, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy

With lectures now in full swing, this month I wanted to write a few words on settling into life at Università degli Studi di Firenze (UniFi) and some of the major academic differences I have already experienced between studying in Italy and the UK.

View from the ‘Biblioteca delle Oblate’ – my closest public library in the historic center

….a far cry from the view of Oxford Road from the Ali G!!

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First thoughts on an Italian adventure – the emergence of the food baby…

By Gemma Sturt, Florence, Università degli Studi di Firenze

As I’m writing I’m sat out by the Arno with what seems to already be my 100000th espresso of the day, a bag full of complete steals from the local market and a gorgeous afternoon view… needless to say the reality of living in a city as jaw-droppingly beautiful as Florence hasn’t really sunk in yet. The city is certainly historic and, although a very popular tourist destination and only a mere 2 hour flight from London, the day-to-day lifestyle of an average Florentine is utterly different to that in the UK.

View of the river Arno from my current spot



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