Torn between high school programs abroad in the nearly 200 countries of the world? Here are 10 alluring traits about high school programs in Italy that may just make your decision easier.
Imagine listening to Pavarotti and understanding the words, or reading Dante or Machiavelli in their original, non-translated text. Italian is an incredibly beautiful language and studies show that learning a new language increases analytical thinking skills and fights the onset of Alzheimer's! If you have already taken some Italian lessons in the past, studying Italian in Italy can legitimize that time you spent in class and bring the language to life.
From Ancient Greek and Roman ruins, to the birth of the Renaissance, to remnants of fascism and World War II, Italy is almost limitless in its offerings for history lovers and students in general. Visit the ruins of Greek amphitheaters in Sicily, the world’s oldest bank still in existence in Siena (Monte di Paschi), and Mussolini’s attempt to revive the monuments of the ancient empire in Rome. Take an anthropology class and you may even be able to participate in a dig!
Sometimes it’s easy for high school students to forget that there is "study" involved in studying abroad in high school. Aside from its aesthetics and culinary marvels, Italy also offers some of the oldest universities in the world and is the founder of the Bologna process (the standard in higher education in Europe and a growing in influence). Providing high quality education is another area in which Italy has earned its sense of pride.
Even for those who are not religious, Italy’s churches will impress and amaze you. Vatican City, confined within the boundaries of Rome, is the heart of the Catholic faith. It is rich with both Christian and artistic history that both religious and secular visitors can appreciate. Wealthy patrons who earned vast amounts of money during the Renaissance funded most of the churches across the country and it shows in the details. One can spend hours in just one church marveling at the intricacies that blanket it from the floor to ceiling. For those who affiliate with the Catholic faith, there are numerous sites to visit that are attributed to various saints and martyrs if you want to make the pilgrimage.
Italy has inspired countless generations of artists and poets with its natural beauty. Starting in the Alps and working south, Italy offers rolling hills in the countryside of Tuscany, numerous islands that dot the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas, homes built into cliffs along the coast, and white sand beaches. There really is a high school program in Italy for everyone.
6. Food & Wine
Needless to say, Italy has amazing food and wine throughout the country and often at a reasonable price. Fresh in season and local produce dominate the menus and even the cheapest wine is better than wines elsewhere. Those who study high school abroad in Italy will never go hungry or leave unsatisfied.
Being in the Mediterranean, Italy has some of the best weather in Europe. It is much warmer than its northern neighbors and the skies are almost always a beautiful blue. Stuck inside studying for a test or writing a paper? Take a quick walk down the street, enjoy the sunshine, and your mood will improve instantly.
8. Art, Architecture, and Fashion
For high school students studying art or architecture, there is hardly a better place to study abroad than Italy. With access to countless original works and buildings that have survived hundreds of years of Italian history, students will never run out of inspiration. The Italians are also a very fashionable people, which is obvious from the moment of arrival at the airport. Study the works of famous Italian designers such as Versace, Gucci, Armani, Benetton, and Prada, just to name a few.
Prepare to find a new passion in calcio, the Italian word for the sport. Italians are very passionate about their soccer teams. Following the 2006 World Cup until 2010, every jar of Nutella carried the Italian Soccer team’s logo and the phrase “La colazione dei campioni del mondo,” meaning: the breakfast of the champions of the world. Italians are also very loyal to their local teams. Attend games, learn the songs and the chants, study the team player bios, and get caught up in the fever.
In typical Mediterranean style, Italy welcomes International high school students and visitors with open arms. This should not be undervalued when searching for your perfect high school study abroad experience. Culture shock can be more severe if staying in a country where you feel resented by the locals. The Italian outgoing nature will also help you to make friends and feel more comfortable and less isolated while living so far from home.