Learning how to speak Italian can be a frustrating, but exciting, journey. Everything from understanding Italian pronunciation, colloquial phrases, difficult grammar and vocabulary. Learning how to speak a new language, however, can be taken to a new level by choosing to study abroad.
For many students, the option to study abroad opens up a world of opportunities. Not only will a stay in Italy improve your skills in a language you are passionate about, but will also lead to acquiring skills you never knew you needed – such as international networking and living independently.
If you’d like to know more about what it’s like to study abroad, and what your options are, it can be difficult to get started on researching all that studying in Italy has to offer. Luckily, this guide will take you through some of the most important questions you could have while investigating whether or not studying abroad is worth it.
From choosing which programs are available for studying abroad, to understanding what an average monthly budget in Italy might look like, these tips serve as a starting point to what will, hopefully, end up being an unforgettable study abroad experience!
Learning Italian through Erasmus
One of the most popular options for language learning abroad for both beginners and more intermediate students alike is taking part in the Erasmus program. If you’re interested in taking an Italian course that will both help improve your spoken Italian and knowledge of Italian grammar and verbs, this option might be right for you.
The Erasmus program is an international organization which is especially helpful if you are taking language courses in University and want to learn to speak that language fluently. It is based on an exchange program between universities in different countries and involves a moderately lengthy application process.
The first step to take if you are interested in this program is to investigate whether or not your current university takes part in the Erasmus program. If they aren’t, there is still some room for flexibility but will require both extra work and research on your part.
The application process takes about half a year and includes justification documents as well as letters of motivation and language tests. Once you are accepted, you will be responsible for obtaining accommodation for the length of your stay. If you apply in January, the end of the application process will normally be around May.
The Italian university system is much like the rest of the world, with regards to the levels of higher education it has. The bachelors, masters and doctorate level of study are equivalent to, respectively:
- Laurea Magistrale
- Dottorato di Recerca
If you’re worried about what life abroad might be like under the Erasmus program, in terms of how hard it will be for you too live abroad, there are many benefits to being a student abroad that will likely facilitate the process. For example, having student status means that you will be eligible for discounted rates in everything from housing to phone plans.
Below you can find a table of what your average, monthly budget might look like, which can vary depending on each students’ lifestyle:
|Tuition fees||1000 £|
|Food||50 £ per week|
|Leisure||40 £ per week|
|Total||1000 £ per month|
Learn Italian through a Study Abroad
Whether or not you will be enrolled in Italian courses or a language school during your trip abroad, or if you’re seeking to learn to speak Italian through working, the first step in your preparation for stay in Italy should be to test how fluent you are in the Italian language.
Your journey to learn to speak Italian should start with understanding the types of tests that will be appropriate for your situation. While there are many tests that claim to test your fluency in Italian phrases and culture, there are two tests that will be recognized throughout Italy: the Certificazione di Italiano come Lingua Straniera (CILS) and the Certificato dell’Italiano Commerciale (CIC). The information for deadlines, fees and requirements are normally posted for these tests for Italian online.
If you’re worried your lessons in Italian vocabulary and grammar weren't’ enough to prepare you to understand the intricacies of the Italian education, medical and housing system, there is no need to worry. Information about the academic year in Italy starts with understanding that there are 60 universities in Italy. These are broken into 17 private universities, where two are especially equipped for international studies. The normal academic semester starts in September or November.
Knowing the Italian housing system can teach you many things about Italian culture. The main options for foreigners in terms of accommodation can be found in university residences, public lodging, and shared apartments. Some examples of this are working in Hostels in exchange for accommodation, finding flat shares, or being housed by your university.
If you’re worried about the kinds of healthcare options that will be available to you, it will be helpful to start by signing up for the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale, or SSN. For more information on this, look to the website for the Italian Ministry of Public Health, or Ministero della Salute.
Finish Your Higher Studies in a Foreign Language
If you’re interested in taking learning a new language to the next level, and you’ve decided to do so by studying abroad, there are many administrative tasks you will have to prepare for before being able to take advantage of perfecting your knowledge of Italian language and culture.
While we’ve already discussed the importance of taking language tests to determine your skills as a beginner or intermediate Italian learner, obtaining a visa will be an equally as important task in jour journey towards studying in Italy.
Depending on how long your stay will be in Italy, and the purpose of the trip, you will either have to get a tourist or student visa. If you stay exceeds 90 days in Italy, you will have to apply for the latter. Having a conversation with your Italian consulate or embassy about the types of documents you will have to provide is vital. However, in general, you will be required to hand over your passport, a round-trip plane ticket, proof of sufficient financial means, and acquire valid health insurance.
If think you might be in need of financial aid to sponsor your Italian lessons in Italy, start by checking out the tuition fees for the school for which you would like to apply or the additional fees involved in a study exchange. The main types of scholarships that can be available to you as a student involve either the Erasmus scholarship or the ones awarded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
If you’re looking for some resources for your stay in Italian online, be sure to check out the website of the many Italian cultural institutes spread throughout the world.
Italian Language learning in Italy
If you’re already passed the level of Italian for beginners and are seeking an opportunity for speaking Italian through an immersion program that isn’t Erasmus, you can apply to the Italian University independent of any organization. Whether your goal is to study Italian language and literature, or want to take Italian courses and programs in other subjects, you will need to start by choosing a university.
An important first step for this process is to understand the European Credit System, or ECTS. Your trip to Italy will be made much simpler if you determine which university will accept your foreign diploma and what types of programs will correspond with your level of Italian fluency.
If you’re worried about taking Italian language courses and if what level of conversational Italian you will have to speak throughout the course of your program, it is important to first understand what types of programs you would like to apply to. Here is a list of some of the top universities in Italy according to the Times Higher Education, QS and Shanghai rankings:
|Times Higher Education||QS Top Universities||Shanghai (ARWU)|
|Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna||Politecnico di Milano||U. Sapienza University of Rome|
|Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa||U. di Bologna||University of Padua|
|U. di Bologna||Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa||Politecnico di Milano|
|Vita-Salute San Raffaele University||Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna||U. di Bologna|
|U. degli studi di Trento||U. Sapienza University of Rome||U. di Florence|
If your goal is to learn to speak Italian, you might be interested in the established Universita di Bologna. This university is renowned for its department of latin, and is known to be an Italian language powerhouse.
If you know how to speak basic Italian and aren’t so much interested in expanding your knowledge in Italian words and phrases as you are understanding the physics of motion or the principles of commerce, universities in Milan might be a better option.
If you’re looking to take online, paid or free Italian courses on the side and simply want to work and explore Italian culture and life, Rome might be your best option due to its connection to the rest of the country and its rich history.
Whatever your reason for moving to Italy for a semester or more, understand that communicating this goal to your family and academic advisors will make the journey much simpler. Take advantage of the many online resources and personal connections around you, and get ready to indulge in Italy’s dolce vita.