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Lucy: 8 weeks Languages for Life Course

To be honest I didn’t really know what to expect. I just had an instinct that it would be an amazing experience and there would be a lot to do. Linguistically, I expected it to be difficult but I did hope to be challenged so I wasn’t too worried. The lessons moved faster than I expected, but I liked that, as I wanted to learn as much as possible. I didn’t expect the Italian school in Florence to provide so much beyond the actual lessons – the scope of trips, courses and social events were really impressive.
I liked the combination of very technical grammar work and free conversation lessons: it enabled you to sort out the nuts and bolts and then put what you’d learnt into practice! The teachers would never ignore you if you didn’t understand something.

I loved the school – the teachers all became friends and it was so sad to say goodbye after 2 months. The situation was ideal – the cheapest internet centre and the tastiest sandwich shop all on the same street!

The worst parts were trying to stay awake at 09.30 am in a grammar lessons after a very heavy night (tends to happen a lot!). The best parts were meeting people from all over the world, getting to feel at home in such an incredible city, and especially, feeling my grasp of the language increase day by day the more I put it into practice.

Everything was really well organised, and if you had a problem there was someone to sort it out there and then. It was great to be there with so many people from all nationalities, all sharing a common enthusiasm for language and Italy. I took advantage of school excursions to Siena and San Gimignano, wine tasting in Chianti and a visit to the Opera in Verona, all of which were marvellous – I was so grateful to be offered these opportunities on top of the teaching itself. For me the balance between free time and lessons was ideal.

Although it is undoubtedly a tourist town, I found the prices ok, compared to England – especially when I’d got to know it a bit. The food was generally fantastic wherever you went and some of the cocktails were out of this world! For me it was the perfect size – not too big and intimidating, but certainly not quiet nonetheless! I was very lucky – near where I lived there was a lovely piazza with a bar where all the local people went to walk their dogs and chat in the evening, so I made some good friends there and did speak a lot of Italian.

The social life was great – for an English country girl to suddenly live within walking distance of a buzzing city centre it was brilliant! I recommend Art Bar in via del Moro on Mondays for amazing cocktails, Dolce Vita for a bit of Florentine glamour and Capoccacia for a really happy, fun drink. The big outdoor clubs, Central Park and Meccano are both fun and have a holiday feel; the music is better at Meccano plus it is smaller and feels more exclusive – I prefered it. By day just try to keep control of the shopping gene – don’t spend everything in the first week!

My hostess was perfectly located – convenient for the centre but just far enough out to feel more residential and less touristy. The lady I lived with was really nice, quite laid-back and gave me my own space but still looked after me – fed me well, let me use the washing machine, gave me medicine when I was ill etc. It also gave me the opportunity to speak a fair bit of the language.

CESA were great! The website, the people on the end of the phone – all as helpful as you could have been. Keep it up!!

I would definitely recommend others to go, and I’m so glad I went. It’s given me the introduction I need to survive on my own.

Highlights – talking to local people, eating out, the Chianti trip, taking the train to the beach/Rome/Venice/Bologna etc, meeting such interesting people and getting contacts from all over, just generally making that incredible city my home.

Can’t wait to go back.