The choice of where to study abroad can be an extremely difficult decision when there are so many incredible cities, countries, and continents to choose from. Two of the most popular destinations for study abroad include England and Italy. While the debate on either destination can be lengthy, here are a few things to consider when deciding between the island and the boot:
It may seem obvious, but the language spoken in your chosen study abroad country has a profound effect on your experience abroad.
Although English is the language spoken in England, the British dialect varies from the American one and you will have to become accustomed to a few differences in vocabulary and pronunciation. The various regions and cities of England each have a distinct accent as well; someone from London will sound vastly different from someone who comes from Manchester.
Many Italians speak English, but basic knowledge of the Italian language is necessary in day-to-day life studying abroad in Italy. You’ll also find that Italians are very appreciative of people attempting to speak their language and it is important to make an effort to immerse yourself in the culture.
Programs & Subjects
Study abroad programs in England are often in partnership with a specific British university, and courses are similar in structure to American university classes, with a combination of lectures, assigned readings and essays, and discussions. You can study abroad in England for a summer, a semester, or an entire year, depending on the program you choose. Some of the best subjects for study abroad in England include political science, literature, history, and the life sciences.
Study abroad programs in Italy are either in partnership with Italian universities or are independent academic programs. Italian university courses tend to be lecture-style, with oral exams at the end of the semester, while independent programs tend to mirror American universities’ course structure. Similar to England, you can study in Italy for a summer, a semester, or for an entire academic year. The most popular subjects to study in Italy include art, theology, history, and the Italian language.
Lifestyle & Culture
It is a common misconception that England is simply the United States with a different accent, nothing could be farther from the truth. England has a very distinct culture, from its deep roots in world history to the Beatles to its leading role in modern science. A healthy obsession with the Royal family is a side effect of studying abroad in England.
British university culture is very much concentrated on campus life, with plenty of organizations and clubs to join. You’ll also find that pubs are central to socializing amongst university students, the only challenge is choosing which one will become your local haunt for the semester.
Although England is not well-known for its food, (its fish and chips are vastly underrated), the diverse populations in the larger cities of the United Kingdom, especially London, offer a great variety of Indian and Thai cuisine, among other worldly delicacies.
Pack an umbrella and be prepared for rain; England is notoriously known for its steady showers, but it is thanks to this weather that England is filled with a countryside of green rolling hills, and vibrant public gardens. And of course, a warm cup of tea always brightens an afternoon!
Italian culture is known worldwide for its wild hand gestures and opera, but there is much more to studying abroad in Italy. Italians are very proud of their history, which once included the vast Ancient Roman Empire and medieval city-states whose walls still stand. Today, Italy is still an important leader in the world of art, fashion, and cuisine.
Italians live by appreciating the simple things in life, which can be seen in their day-to-day schedules, and their food. Shops open late in the morning and cities close for approximately three hours in the late afternoon to allow everyone to return home to eat lunch with their families, an example of Italy’s emphasis on family.
The “campus” of an Italian university is the city in which the university is based. Most Italian students take full advantage of the social and cultural events that their university city has to offer as a way to meet new people.
Italy, of course, is known worldwide for its cuisine. The famous Italian dinners usually begin at eight in the evening, include multiple courses and last for hours. Although the type of food will vary depending on the local traditions of the city and region of Italy that you choose to study in, pasta, wine, and gelato are three delicacies that are easily found (and delicious) regardless of where you study abroad in Italy.
Italy’s climate varies depending on where you choose to study. Southern cities, such as Sorrento on the cliffs of the Mediterranean tend to have milder weather, while grand cities to the north such as Milan are much colder.
Benefits vs. Challenges
With the conversion rate between the pound and the dollar, the cost of living and studying in England can be somewhat high. It is important to budget carefully and to take advantage of student deals in everything from train passes to movie tickets.
Studying abroad in England is an excellent opportunity to live in a country that has a reputation of historic and cultural pride, and is one of the leading nations in today’s current affairs, both within the European Union and throughout the entire world.
Similar to England, the Euro to dollar conversion rate in Italy can make the cost of living expensive. However, there are a number of discounts for students and, more specifically, international students; keep an eye out for the word “Erasmus” (that is, international student).
Studying abroad in Italy may require more of a cultural adjustment, but immersing yourself in the Italian language and lifestyle is a challenge from which you can benefit academically, socially, and personally.
Whether you choose to study abroad in England or Italy, the most important thing is that you study abroad! The experience of living in another country for a summer, semester, or even a year will be one of the most influential and life-changing decisions that you can make.
Still can’t choose? Study abroad in both! There’s enough English breakfast tea and pizza napoletana for everyone.