With Florence being the top study abroad location for American students, I tend to try to veer my advisees as far away from it as possible. Don’t get me wrong, I think Florence is great, but I’m pretty sure the Florentines and the Americans would benefit if the city were a little less populated by U.S. college students. However, not all students heed my advice, and many still decide to go. Some isolate themselves to the American culture, but some really do engage and find a way of making Florence a true Italian cultural experience. Recently one student told me that she was able to really discover Florence through an organization called Cup of Local Sugar.
Cup of Local Sugar’s goal is to find knowledgeable and welcoming locals who can help the curious traveller better understand their culture. Started in Italy, the locals are mostly in Europe but are slowly spreading across the globe. Locals provide experiences in one of the following categories: coffee abroad, explore, move, play, or taste. These experiences go on the COLS website and then visitors can sign up to participate and schedule the time that works best. COLS does a good job of vetting both locals and visitors to make sure it is a positive experience for everyone.
When I heard about this organization, I was immediately intrigued and completed the application to become a local in San Diego. I didn’t hear from them for a couple of weeks but last Monday they contacted me to set up a Skype interview. In the interview they asked my reasons for applying, what would be some things I would recommend someone doing in San Diego, and then just asked me to tell something about myself. (I told her I was 4’11″…it was the most interesting thing I could think of.) The interview lasted about 35 minutes and was fairly laid back and comfortable. At the end, she told me they would get back to me soon. As of Saturday, I am officially a Cup of Local Sugar Local! Of course I haven’t actually met with any visitors yet, but I’ll keep you posted.
If you are interested in showing visitors your country or are about to travel somewhere and would really like the local experience, check out Cup of Local Sugar. And if you’re coming to San Diego, be sure to sign up for a coffee abroad with me, Elise B. (my sweet experience should be posted in a week or so).