Learn (a Little) of the Language
In the 21st Century, our concept of home has expanded: people no longer stay in one place their whole lives, and business now takes place on an international platform. In this increasingly globalised world, multilingualism is becoming more and more valuable. Studying abroad offers the opportunity to learn a language through immersion, and Italian is a great language to learn. Italy has a highly affluent economy and is a world-leader in the culinary arts, interior design, robotics, graphic design and many more fields. As such, it is a language that is often sought after by employers.
Moreover, making an effort to learn Italian will help differentiate you from tourists, build deeper connections with local people, and settle into your host country. Don’t worry about making mistakes; no one is expecting you to learn a language fluently in a semester or year, and the misunderstandings will become funny stories!
One of the unique things about Italy is the local artisans, selling items from ceramics, to jewellery, woodwork and hand-bound books. Not only do these items make beautiful gifts for your friends and family back home, they also support the local people who make them.
Most Italians shop locally and seasonally for food, making purchases from farmers’ markets and small grocery stores, often shopping several times a week. Although it can be a little more effort, shopping locally will give you a taste of delicious Italian produce. It will also support the local community, create more jobs, and reduce your environmental impact.
Make the Most of the Food
On a similar note, make the most of the opportunity to eat Italian food on its home ground. As the home of pizza and pasta, Italian food tends to be simple, delicious and plentiful. Italians are generally sparse with seasoning, believing that good quality food does not need to be masked by herbs and spices, and that the flavour will speak for itself.
Dinner is rarely served before 8:00 PM, and is seen as an opportunity to connect with loved ones. When eating out, the bill is usually only brought over when specifically asked for, as the servers do not want their customers to feel rushed. While you’re in Italy, embrace the leisurely attitude to food and enjoy spending time with your friends and host family over meals.
Soak in the Arts Scene
As the birthplace of Michelangelo, Raphael, and Leonardo da Vinci, Italy has a rich artistic history, which is continued in the country’s thriving contemporary art scene. Florence, Naples, Rome, Venice and Milan are home to arguably the world’s most popular art galleries. The art scene has also trickled down into smaller towns, particularly in Northern Italy, where masterpieces are often found in local art galleries. Whether or not you have previously taken an interest in art and history, exploring the galleries of Italy is a must-do!
Travel – But Also Take Time to Explore Your City and its Surroundings
Italy is a diverse country, encompassing culturally-rich cities such as Rome, alongside smaller, picturesque towns, and mountainous and coastal scenery. Whether you’re a foodie, an art-enthusiast or seasoned hiker, there are enough places to explore to fill up all your weekends and days off!
It is also worth spending time exploring neighbouring countries, like France, Switzerland and Austria. If you’re in Italy for a semester, I would recommend staying in Italy for the majority of that time and then spending a week or two at the end of your semester exploring the surrounding countries, so that you can be sure to have the full Italian experience.
Study and Go Abroad Fairs