SACI Student Blogger Jessica Angelini describes her VISA process, travel research, and artistic plans as she prepares to head to Florence.
SACI Student Bloggers give us a behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to study at SACI and live in Florence. Follow along throughout the semester as our Spring 2020 bloggers share their experiences with the Italian culture, art, language, and more.
Preparing for an Experience of a Lifetime
Nothing is more exciting than knowing you are going to have an experience of a lifetime while studying abroad. My journey started when I decided to apply for the Seward Johnson Artist Development Travel Scholarship at my home school, Rowan University. I had been eyeing up this opportunity since I was a freshman and I decided to take a chance and apply. After anxiously waiting, I received the jaw-dropping news that I had won the scholarship and I would be studying in Italy at SACI! I was beyond thrilled and started planning and preparing immediately. I received the news in the middle of the fall semester that I would be studying at SACI in the spring semester, so it was a race to get everything in order on time.
I wasn’t too nervous about getting everything I needed together; I would mark myself as someone who likes to plan in advance but also go with the flow whenever there is a bump in the road. I started with renewing my passport and working through the documents required by my school and SACI. The procedure was very simple and was outlined step by step, so I had nothing to worry about. I found the Admitted Students tab on the SACI website to be very helpful. I also had the opportunity to join a group flight leaving from New York, and that took a ton of weight off of my shoulders. It felt like I had enough time to do everything and it was going well.
Then I had to apply for a student VISA. This turned out to be the most concerning and stressful part of my pre-departure process. When I began working on this, I found what seemed like a mile-long list of paperwork that I needed to bring for my interview. This made me a little nervous, but I was prepared to dig through it and check everything off. After that, I looked into booking my appointment with the Italian Consulate and my heart stopped. There were no appointments until later in January, and I was going to be leaving in the beginning of that month! I was so anxious because it was crunch time, and I wanted to make sure everything would be processed in time for my departure. I checked back with the booking website regularly, but with no luck. It wasn’t until I checked one day between classes that I was able to snag a spot in late November. I was immediately relieved, and it was all smooth sailing from there. Gathering all of the VISA materials took longer than I expected, but it was nothing unmanageable, even in my short amount of time. As long as I stayed organized, everything went very smoothly, and I realized I’d been stressing out too much.
Before my upcoming flight, I have been trying to see my friends and family as much as possible. It seems like every day is packed with events and fun plans, and the dinner parties and lunch dates have turned out to be a great place to talk to other people who have studied abroad in the past. I’ve received tons of advice and recommendations such as what to bring and where to eat. I have also been researching everything about Florence so I can learn as much as I can before I go. I am trying to learn some Italian, finding out what kind of clothes to wear, and learning what to expect from daily life. One of the things I discovered I am most eager to experience is shopping at the markets where many locals do their grocery shopping. Another big item on my pre-departure to-do list has been to save up as much money as possible. I worked the whole semester and limited my spending so I can experience everything Italy has to offer!
Something I plan on doing while abroad is journaling my time spent there. I want to remember every detail and I think this will be a fun way to do it! I have been researching journaling methods and examples for weeks, trying to find the one that is perfect for me, and I think I have settled on bullet journaling. I will be able to customize my pages and layout in any way I would like, giving me that artistic and creative freedom that all artists love. Now I am searching for a perfect journal!
Living in a completely new place so far from home seems daunting when I really start to think about it. I know I will miss my friends, family, and little doggie a lot. However, I know that I am going to have an amazing time and remember this experience for the rest of my life. My family and friends will only be a phone call away, so I know I can count on them if things get rough.
I am so delighted and grateful to start this chapter of my life and fill it with new friends and memories!
- Jessica Angelini
Jessica Angelini is a SACI student from Rowan University, studying abroad in Florence during the Spring 2020 Term.
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