Emma LeMay is a member of Marist's Class of 2020 who recently completed her first year as part of the "Freshman Florence Experience" at Marist's Branch Campus in Florence, Italy. She is a Communication major specializing in Advertising and Public Relations with a minor in Graphic Design.
How did you feel when you first found out about the Freshman Florence Experience (FFE)?
Very excited and surprised that there is a program designed for freshmen to spend their first year of college in Florence!
What were some of your concerns about spending your first year of college at the Florence branch campus?
Aside from not seeing my dog for nine months, I was worried about the legal drinking age (which is 18) and being on my own in a foreign country I had never been to.
How did you decide that the FFE was the right choice for you?
I decided FFE was the right choice for me because I wanted a unique freshman experience after spending four years at an all-girls prep school. I craved to live and study abroad and to become more globally educated. I had no idea I would be able to so early in my college career! At the conclusion of my freshman year, I knew I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my freshman year any other way. The lessons I’ve learned, memories and friends I’ve made, and adventures I embarked on are all experiences that will serve me well for the rest of my life.
What was your favorite class in Florence? Why?
My favorite class in Florence was The Holocaust: Jewish and Christian Responses. I’ve always been intrigued by the Holocaust, and it was fascinating to gain a different perspective by studying it in Europe. My professor made class very engaging, and we went on some really neat field trips throughout the semester.
What was your most challenging class in Florence? Why?
My most challenging class in Florence was Philosophy because I had no background on the complex subject. The class really made me think and reflect which was a positive outcome from a difficult course.
What was your typical day like in Florence?
I typically woke up every day at 7:30 a.m., cooked and ate breakfast in my apartment, sipped on a cappuccino al bar at La Ménagère on the way to my 9 a.m. class, and attended classes until the early afternoon. Then I did homework at a café (of which there are many in Florence), exercised or walked with friends, and prepared dinner. At night, I usually hung out with friends, devoured gelato at My Sugar or Edoardo’s, and blogged before going to bed at 10:30 p.m.
What was your typical weekend like in Florence?
During the weekends in Florence, I studied and did my school work, grocery shopped at local markets, tried a new restaurant, and watched the sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo. Weekends in Florence are three days long and very relaxing! There’s always something to do, and if you want to escape the city, day trips are quite doable (I highly recommend: Perugia, Siena, Cortona, Cinque Terre, and Lucca)!
How did you stay connected with home?
I FaceTimed/called my family and friends in addition to sending and receiving postcards and letters. Keeping a daily blog was an efficient and fun way for them to keep up with my life in Florence.
How did the faculty and staff support you during your time in Florence?
The faculty and staff were always available to talk to about anything. They were informed about the happenings in our lives and did their best to accommodate our needs and requests.
What was your most memorable moment in Florence?
Reading the article (about American college culture in Florence) I wrote for the Florentine for the first time!
What activities are you involved in at the New York campus?
Writing for Marist’s Her Campus Chapter, participating intramural sports, working in the admissions office.
How do you feel you benefited from this program?
This program taught me how to be an independent problem solver. There were several times when things did not go according to plan, and I had to create a plan B on the spot. FFE gave me more confidence, patience, and independence to face challenges that came my way. I wouldn’t have acquired the same skills had I not participated in this program.
What advice would you give to a prospective student considering the FFE?
My advice is to take the risk and get on that plane to Florence! Everyone’s experience is different, but you are guaranteed to learn about yourself and the world around you. Have an open mind, don’t be afraid to embark on solo adventures, and write down your feelings and experiences! Also, book your own travel; don’t succumb to tours, because you’ll lose money and a sense of spontaneity!
What is your favorite place in Florence? Why?
My favorite place in Florence is Ditta Artigianale because I spent hours upon hours there with my friends, journal, and school work. The baristas are so friendly, and it’s the perfect place to people watch.
What was your least favorite place in Florence? Why?
My least favorite place in Florence is anywhere that has an abundance of pigeons!
Profile Tags:Profile Type: Class of 2020
Academic School: Communication and the Arts
Campus: New York