A Guide To Language Study Abroad in Italy
For Italian language studies, there’s no better place to learn than Italy (you know, when in Rome and whatnot). However, at the same time, Italy is an international center of culture with a steady influx of tourists, so many languages can be heard on the streets of Italy’s major cities. Therefore, language programs in Italy will without a doubt give you plenty of opportunities to use your language skills outside of the classroom. Grab your passport, your Italian phrasebook, some spare change for the Trevi fountain, your pasta-eating pants, and get ready to fully immerse yourself in the Italian language and culture through language programs in Italy.
Italian isn’t italian isn’t italian. There are many different Italian dialects, each one with its own slang and nuance to fall in love with wherever you choose to study in Italy. Each of the following locations will have its own twang, accent, and idioms, kind of like those of ya’ll down south or yous guys along the coast.
Rome is one of the country’s oldest cities and remains the national capital and center for culture, commerce, and tourism. With so much to see and do, including museums and famous ancient sites, you don’t have to be Audrey Hepburn to enjoy a good ol’ roman holiday. However, it’s not all archaeological digs and ruins, Rome is also very much a modern city filled with high end restaurants, shopping centers, and piazzas to explore and enjoy. But, you also won’t have to earn your gladius at the Colosseum to experience the fun and freedom language programs in Rome can offer you.
Florence, or Firenze, was once Italy’s capital (for a short period of time), the Remus to Rome’s Romulus, if you will. Florence is renowned for its elaborate cathedral, art (just ask Michelangelo), and culture, with a veritable who’s who of famous artists, writers, musicians, and composers. Florence is best known for being the home of the Michelangelo’s statue of David, and he gives Florence a 10 out of 10 on TripAdvisor no doubt. Florence is also home to many Italian universities and a number of English affiliate schools, making it an accessible and popular location for language study in Italy.
Siena is not just a Crayola color, but a town nestled in the Tuscan countryside. According to local legend, the city was founded by the sons of Remus, Senius, and Aschius, making Siena Rome’s little nephew, but nepotism didn’t land Siena on this list. The whole town is a relic of pre-renaissance Italy, where Gothic architecture supports the modern Italian lifestyle. During language study in Siena, you’ll live and learn under the Tuscan sun at one of the many local Italian universities or affiliated international language schools.
Italian is the official national language of Italy, so most language programs in Italy will be focused on Italian language studies. However, we live in an increasingly globalized society, so don’t be too surprised if you hear a little Spanish, French, German, and maybe even some Czech or Greek while walking down the street.
Direct Enrollment. Out of the fire and into the inferno, as they say. If you’re looking for a truly immersive experience and you’ve got a strong background in Italian, you can enroll directly in a local Italian university or participate in a program directly affiliated with a local university. This option will also put you side by side with Italian students, and is likely the best choice for students looking to earn academic credit for their language courses in Italy, not to mention it will allow you to take other elective courses offered in Italian too. While studying at a local university, you’ll also be able to explore other languages, like French, German, and English, alongside your Italian peers.
Language Schools. Italian language schools are not for dabblers. These institutions are the best option for students looking to focus solely on improving their Italian language skills. Typically providing a full immersion experience, students will often take classes with other international students who may not share their same native language, giving students the perfect opportunity to practice Italian as their lingua franca. Classes at language schools in Italy will usually be taught by native speakers skilled in teaching Italian as a foreign language, and include important cultural context in addition to the basics of speaking, reading, and writing.
Aside from studying Italian in Italy, you may have the opportunity to learn some of the other languages spoken in Italy. Other languages widely spoken in Italy include Romanian, Arabic, Albanian, Spanish, as well as other indigenous languages and Italian dialects.
While some language programs in Italy will focus on Italian, others will focus on a broader scope of communication and how it varies culturally. But, no matter what classes you end up taking, you are sure to learn about the various cultural standards and practices of language both inside the classroom and during your travels throughout Italy.
Language courses are offered in Italy year round, but depending on what you are looking for you may want to schedule around your particular interests. Fall and Spring semesters will provide the most authentic academic experience, as the majority of the students and faculty will be present on campuses and in full-on study mode. However, many programs in the summer include extracurricular excursions to Italy’s most delightfully sunny spots.
Most language programs in Italy are open to any college student currently enrolled in classes, although some programs may require at least one or two years of college experience. Many language schools in Italy require a written application and a copy of your transcript, and some programs may require an additional essay as well as letters of recommendation.
The costs of language programs in Italy vary by provider, school, accommodations, and location, but generally expect to pay anywhere from 400 to 800 Euro a week for Italian courses in Italy. Most programs and language schools in Italy will provide a suggested budget for food, travel, and other day-to-day expenses before departure.
In a tourism powerhouse like Italy, expect the cost of living to be a little higher, especially in major cities like Rome and Florence. As you live and learn in Italy, you’ll navigate around the more expensive tourist traps and find your favorite locales, from the best espresso for your buck to authentic italian food that only busts your waistband and not your wallet.
Students will have three potential housing options while living and studying in Italy. Most language programs in Italy will provide housing in dormitories with other international and Italian students; the perfect place to make new friends and find a language partner. Students also have the option of living in shared apartments typically, though this tends to be expensive, especially if you make arrangements on your own outside of your program provider. For students looking to fully immerse themselves in vita italiano, living with an Italian host-family is the way to go. Keep in mind: most providers host family placements are on a first-come, first-serve basis, so iron out your living arrangements early on in the application and pre-departure process.
As a language student in Italy, if you’re planning to be in country more than 90 days (three months), you will need to apply for a temporary student visa. Your program provider will help you with this process and provide most necessary paperwork, but be sure to check your local Italian consulate’s website for specific instructions. The visa process is generally long, slow, and frustrating, so start the process early to avoid any unnecessary stress. Check out GoAbroad.com’s Embassy Directory to get the latest up-to-date information about visas to Italy.
La dolce vita. Language programs in Italy will give you the chance to live the sweet life, and we’re not just talking about gelato and tiramisu. You’ll learn more than just italian during a semester or summer in Italy, you’ll learn the art of Italian living: good food, good wine, and great friends. If you’re not already looking up deals on international flights, you should be.
Lingua Franca. Language programs in Italy have this magical way of bringing together students from all over the world in a melange of different nationalities, cultures, and languages, and opening a new door of communication and understanding. With only Italian to connect with, you’ll be able to improve your language skills with a support system of other international students all in the same boat. Speaking Italian could be the bridge between you and your Japanese or French peers.
Studying Italian, or other languages, in Italy will not only allow you to order your cappuccino with ease, but it will also serve as a launchpad to incredibly authentic adventures in the Boot.
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