As if you really need convincing.
1. Eat, drink. Rinse, repeat.
Let’s put it this way: you’ll want to start practicing how to order your food in Italian weeks before you arrive, because your mouth will be watering the second you land. Truth be told, it’s quite easy to lose yourself in a bowl of mouth-watering “pasta al pomodoro” or “una coppa del gelato” (pssst, the stracciatella or nocciolosa are divine). Italians take the art of cooking very seriously, so you’ll be hard pressed to find a meal you won’t enjoy. Food is fresh and always made with love, just like you’d imagine.
Do yourself a favor and mangia your way through the entire country. You can shed those extra few pounds once you get back home! They’ll be well worth it. Oh, did we mention there’s wine? Just be sure to respect the culture behind the wine and enjoy delicious pairings with authentic Italian cuisine. All in all, the culinary experience in Italy is unlike anywhere else. Embrace it. Try new things. Actually, scratch that – try everything.
2. People work to live; they don’t live to work.
If you’re looking to study in a country full of workaholics and stress-fiends, Italy may not be the best fit for you. While Italians take pride in what they do for a living, they certainly don’t make it the center of their world. This gives them more time to focus on the finer things in life, like family and friends. In fact, businesses even shut down for one hour in the middle of the day for what they call siesta, a break time for napping or unwinding. Think about that for a minute: a whole hour dedicated to what you want to do to relax. What a concept!
3. You’ll make friends that last a lifetime.
Few people will understand the experience you had in Italy quite like the friends you make during your stay there. You’ll try to explain the adventures, the warm feelings, the memories and the food (because there will be stories about food), but they’ll never quite get it. For this reason, the bonds you make with your fellow abroad-mates will run deeper than many of those you have with childhood friends.
You’ll do so much self-discovery (see #5) in the presence of these wonderful people, and they’ll watch you grow in ways you never thought imaginable. Get to know them. Travel with them. Go on adventures. When you feel nostalgic after your reluctant return home, their faces will pop into your mind and you’ll know just who to call to reminisce.
Did you know? Students from universities and colleges from all over the U.S. study abroad in Italy with AIFS Abroad! You’ll meet people and make friends from every corner of the country.
4. Domestic and international travel is at your fingertips.
By studying in Italy, you’ll channel your inner explorer and utilize the country’s central geographic location regularly. Smack dab in the heart of Europe, you can easily travel to the majority of hot spots in little to no time at all. Checking off cities on your bucket list is simple to do when transportation is accessible, inexpensive, and easy to use:
- Yearning to see Paris’s Eiffel Tower sparkle as the clock strikes midnight? Check!
- Daydreaming of strolling down La Rambla in Barcelona with tapas in hand? Check!
- Wondering what it feels like to stand on the edge of the lush, green Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, contemplating the nature around you? Check!
It’s all possible thanks to Italy’s central location.
5. You’ll discover yourself.
If you ask any individual who has studied in Italy to describe their experience, the odds are that they’ll reply with something along the lines of, “It changed my life.” What many of them mean, but may not articulate, is that they grew and changed in ways that they never even thought possible. Being abroad puts life into a different perspective. It allows you to evaluate who you are as a person and the life you live at home, reminding you that the world is full of vibrant, different types of people.
In Italy, you’ll live independently, half way around the world from your comfort zone. Of course it’s scary, and of course it can be daunting to think that you’ll be removed from what you’re used to, but it’s this kind of transition that allows you to flourish and grow each and every day. You’ll be exposed to new customs, new foods, new language – all of which will put you to the test. But rest assured that with the testing comes a sense of excitement and, if you approach the experience with an open mind and open heart, you’ll tap into parts of who you are that may never have been awakened.