Students & Campus
20 February 2023

A Semester Exchange in Florence, under a Medici Roof

Pierre Canet is a second-year master student in International Affairs. He recently finished a semester exchange at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. He recounts his experience, where he learned as much outside as inside the classroom.

During my exchange at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence, I had the opportunity to immerse myself in a truly unique academic environment. Surrounded by students and faculty from diverse European countries and beyond, I followed excellent courses on a range of transnational issues from digital technology to migration, notably through the lens of European policy. Not only were these courses well-structured and brilliantly taught but they also entailed an opportunity to extensively discuss the assigned readings and confront our respective points of view.

Such a collaborative atmosphere was enabled by the small cohort, which was a close-knit community, and facilitated interactions with professors and teaching assistants (TAs). Despite its size and shorter course list, the EUI boasts an impressive range of faculty members who often have hands-on policy experience outside of academia. Moreover, EUI is also unique in that it is located in the Palazzo Buontalenti in downtown Florence. The only downside to this beautiful setting: it can be hard to focus when magnificent frescos adorn your classroom! Moreover, I often took the 15-minute shuttle trip to the main campus, a repurposed monastery on the hills overlooking the city, which offered a bigger library, many conferences, a tasty and affordable cafeteria, and an incredible view.

Beyond pure academics, I also worked on my Italian language skills through courses offered by the University and by exchanging with locals. Florence also offered a great quality of living and I particularly liked exploring the neighboring Tuscan towns and countryside on the weekends. Overall, if you are interested in EU affairs, are an art enthusiast, and a gelato aficionado.a, I would highly recommend this exchange!

Learn more about the exchange programmes offered at the Geneva Graduate Institute.