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First-Semester Study Abroad in Florence

As the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence provides the perfect backdrop for first-year courses that count towards your humanities and social sciences requirements.

Student jumping in the air while visiting a vineyard in Italy

Launched in 2007, the Discovery Florence program continues to grow as it brings together adventurous first-year students in a vibrant city rich with some of the world’s most famous history, art, and architecture. You’ll take courses that count toward your humanities and social sciences requirements and learn Italian language (no proficiency required) in the classroom and at home with your host family. Past Discovery Florence courses have included Italian Art and Society, Liberty and Power from the Ancient World to Modernity, and Italian 101.

Life in Florence

Full Immersion Weekend

The “Full Immersion Weekend,” the first weekend of the semester, is different from all the others. While students are normally free on weekends to participate in field study excursions or to travel on their own, the full immersion weekend was established to spend time with the host family and to become oriented to the city of Florence and the immediate neighborhood.

From past experience, this weekend has proven to be invaluable for students and host families to get to know each other better before classes begin. Students learn to orient themselves within the host family and the city of Florence.

Italian Host Families

Discovery Florence students will live with an Italian host family, an experience that offers superior linguistic and cultural benefits. The combination of formal Italian lessons and home-based language practice with native speakers has proven to be a tremendously effective means of learning a language. Moreover, being part of a family means participating directly in Italian daily life—the best way to gain insights into and integrate fully with a culture.

Student Life

Student life means different things to different people. SUF offers the possibility to experience Italian life and culture and at the same time have access to many services that you would expect from a university campus.



Connect with Syracuse Abroad through general advising sessions or program appointments. Drop-in or schedule a virtual or in-person advising session at SyracuseAbroad@Bird Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Or, schedule an appointment to meet with a Syracuse Abroad program advisor. View all advising options View all advising options.

First-Year Forum

All Discovery Florence students will participate in the Florence equivalent of the First Year Forum offered by the College of Arts and Sciences on main campus. The goal of the forum is to orient the student to college life, to Syracuse University, and to studying abroad. Students will discuss issues of host families, cultural adjustment, time management, study habits, expectations of college level courses, choosing a major, and more. This course will be taught by staff in Florence with input from the associate dean for curriculum and instruction of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Field Study and All-School Trips

An exciting and extensive field trips program awaits you in Florence. Traveling to diverse locations throughout the Italian peninsula, you will be wowed by Italy’s natural beauty, become immersed in the country’s rich past and present, and discover how so many towns and cities became great centers of western art, architecture, and culture.


Students participating in the Discovery Florence program will enjoy a rich and varied introduction to Italy through a challenging semester-long curriculum. The program fulfills the same curricular requirements as those pursued by freshmen studying on Syracuse University’s main campus, while providing a course schedule unique to the Florence experience. Upon return to Syracuse in the spring semester, Discovery Florence participants will be on equal footing academically with their main campus peers.

Note: If you are interested in a natural science, mathematics, pre-med track, engineering, or computer science, you should apply to Discovery Madrid as this is the only center that offers the required first-semester courses in these programs.

For specific course information, view required and optional courses .