Improved memory, a longer attention span, and cross cultural friendships are just some of the benefits of learning a new language, especially Italian, which is one of the most romantic dialects in the world. Whether you strive to appreciate the richness of Italian theatre, literature, opera, or even just understand an Italian menu, knowledge of Italian is essential. Wandering amongst charming cobblestoned streets, people watching from the top of the Spanish Steps, or checking off every type of pizza and pasta on your foodie list is just that much easier with a handful of Italian words up your sleeve.
Why Study Italian Abroad
Learning Italian will come in handy on a regular basis when you’re traveling as it will help you communicate with locals who only speak Italian smoothly and successfully. Plus, if you’re ever trying to make moves on a certain someone (wink, wink), saying, “Vuoi andare ad un appuntamento?” sounds much more romantic than, “Do you want to go on a date?” #datingadvice101
As you first start to study Italian abroad, the difficulty will give you the determination you need to really push yourself to learn and practice; imagine how impressed your date would be if you ordered your dinner in Italian? By studying Italian abroad, you will be more familiarized with the structure of the language, the pronunciation, and the intonation in real life situations. Not to mention practicing and listening to Italian in your daily life will increase the speed of your learning and keep you motivated to improve.
When studying Italian abroad, you won’t just be learning Italian; you’ll be learning about the charming Italian culture, in all its forms. Trying bruschetta or pear pasta for the first time, meeting locals in Piazza Trilussa, and learning about the gory history of the Colosseum, will introduce you to the peculiar social customs dell’Italia.
There's no better way to truly begin to learn la bella lingua, than by getting to know the people who have grown up speaking Italian. By meeting Italian speakers and making connections, you may even start to pick up their habits and way of life. Learning Italian abroad will definitely make your experience of study abroad more enjoyable and fulfilling, not to mention the non-verbal communication you’ll learn along the way; Italians tend to use a creative collection of hand gestures while speaking. Bellissimo!
If you want to experience the true Italian culture, and get a deeper understanding of this beautiful language, the best place to study Italian is obviously in Italy. Surprise, surprise! You’ll find opportunities to study Italian in Italy not only in the main cities, but also in quaint, small towns. Astonishing spots in Italy are just waiting to be discovered; just be sure to stand out from the touristy crowd and impress a local cafe owner when you ask for directions in Italian! Some of the most popular locations to study Italian in Italy include Rome, Florence, and Milan.
Rome isn’t the cheapest city to study Italian abroad in, but it will offer you a “Powerpuff girl-esque” experience, with it’s sugar, spice, and everything authentically Italian. Rome offers endless Italian language courses to choose from and allows you to experience the true Italian way of life. From an endless menu of pasta and pizza to staged gladiator fights in front of the Colosseum, you’ll always find something to engage in on your weekends. The huge student population in Rome adds a spark to this already energetic city, where the streets are always filled with chattering locals at night.
Florence is best defined as the “Cradle of the Renaissance,” with a city center that happens to be a well known UNESCO world heritage site. Florence is a great place for students to immerse themselves in the city where the Italian language was actually formed. As a city that is constantly welcoming droves of international students, it is a study abroad student’s ideal destination, with no shortage of things to do in the evenings. Its lively nightlife will never leave you bored or without friends, especially during karaoke nights.
As the ultimate capital of Italian fashion, designer brands, and exceptional shopping, Milan has something for everyone. Milan is a blossoming metropolis that will introduce you to study abroad programs that will enlighten your passion, creativity, and enthusiasm for the Italian language. The music scene in Milan is extraordinary and international bands regularly tour the city, so be sure to make the most of local nightclubs that are always featuring great live music.
If you are looking for an unconventional place to study Italian abroad, considering venturing to Switzerland. Ticino is the only canton in Switzerland that speaks Italian exclusively, though most residents also speak German as a second language. Study Italian in Switzerland during the fall or winter semester and you’ll find yourself happily stuck in a Swiss-style winter wonderland, complete with delicious chocolate and endless snowy Swiss Alps! Exploring Switzerland’s beautiful mountainous landscapes after a long day of Italian language classes can be like the icing on the top of your study abroad cake.
Studying Italian Abroad
There are many study abroad programs that offer students a wide range of opportunities to study Italian abroad. Therefore, you’ll have to choose a program based on the pace of coursework and the style of learning that works best for you. Many study abroad programs will include courses taught in both Italian and English, so you’ll be able to choose how much you want to commit to an Italian-only policy for your coursework. The most engaging Italian study abroad programs offer real life conversational practice and experience, on top of lectures and demonstrations. Field trips, for example, will help expand your learning outside the classroom; you may even have the chance to sample traditional Italian cuisines and take trips to the local market if you choose just the right program.
It is possible to study Italian abroad any time of the year, but fall and spring semester study abroad programs will provide you with a more genuine and complete academic experience, as you’ll be surrounded by other study abroad students. It is possible to take Italian language courses abroad for few weeks up to an entire academic year. Again, the choice is yours! However, needless to say, the longer you study Italian abroad, the more you’ll learn and understand this romantico language!
Benefits & Challenges
Aside from the most obvious benefit of adding a foreign language to your language dictionary, studying Italian abroad can also boost your career and further travel opportunities. If you’re want a career that involves anything international, then learning Italian can set you apart from the competition; adding a second language to your resume is guaranteed to catch future employer’s eyes. Also, if you’re planning on traveling a lot in the future, knowing Italian will make your travels easier, and that language barrier smaller, especially if you have plans of traveling around Italy.
As with any foreign language, the process of learning Italian may not be as easy as it seems. Even though the language is strikingly similar to Spanish, it’s also completely different. As you find yourself roaming around your host country listening to locals converse, you’ll realize that any number of high school Italian courses aren’t going to cut it. Unless you already have significant experience in Italian, it’s recommended that you start off in the beginner’s Italian class, then work your way up from there.
As Federico Fellini, one of the most celebrated Italian filmmakers, said, “A different language, is a different vision of life.” The pronunciation of the words is a sound that will make you fall in love with this fascinating language. So, are you ready to fall in love with this bellissimo dialect?
Studying Italian abroad will not only open your eyes and mind to a completely new language, it will open doors and lead you further into the beauty of the Italian culture. Don’t just listen to the colorful dialect, learn it for yourself! Italian language immersion will be life-changing, and your time abroad will have an impact on your way of thinking and of seeing life as whole. Open yourself to a world full of colors and contradictions by taking the plunge and studying Italian abroad!