Tips for Studying Abroad in Italy

Many students dream of spending a semester in Italy-sampling authentic specialties, chilling out with creamy, homemade gelato, walking arm-in-arm with their new Italian friends for their evening passeggiata… oh yea, and learning Italian and getting college credit.

Today’s guest blogger, Brian Jenkins shares some hints and tips for studying abroad in the bel paese.


Italy is a great place to study abroad. It’s home to numerous universities in cities such as Rome, Florence, Siena, Perugia, Naples and Bologna. These university cities have quality schools and large international student populations, making them a fun choice for students wishing to study abroad in Italy.

It will be easier to adjust to living in Italy if students take the time to research the country’s culture, customs, laws and politics before they make the big move. Here is a list of useful tips for students who want to study abroad in Italy:

  • Language – Italians are a helpful group and in some of the bigger cities, you will find that some of them speak English. However, international students should learn some simple Italian phrases and words before they move to Italy.
  • Food/Dining – Lunch is the largest meal of the day, with some Italians spending a couple of hours on their lunch break. There are more than 140 varieties of pasta and ice cream or gelato is very popular. Most Italians eat dinner around 8:00 in the evening. When dining out, customers usually pay a service charge that is included in their bill.
  • Housing – Most Italian colleges and universities provide housing placement services. Students that don’t want to share a residence with the opposite sex should inform the school’s housing placement services representatives before they are assigned housing. Many international students choose to live in flats with several bedrooms.
  • Selecting a program – Students can choose from traditional universities, language academies, eco-adventures and cultural tours. Checking the school’s web site is a great way to find program information. There are also numerous websites that offer information about study abroad programs in Italy. Two of the top websites are, and Some of the best reference books are Peterson’s Study Abroad, Peterson’s Summer Study Abroad, IIE Short-Term Study Abroad and IIE Academic Year Abroad. Students need to research subjects such as transfer credit, duration of the program and costs.
  • Cultural distinctions/safety issues – Italian families are close knit groups. Around six o’clock in the evening large numbers of Italians can be seen strolling the main piazzas and streets in town. This is called the passeggiata. Men often walk together arm-in arm-this just means that they are family members or close friends. On a minor note, Italians often cut in front of others standing in line … when they use lines.
  • Financial aid – For most students, their financial aid package will cover most of the costs of studying abroad. Study abroad programs affiliated with the student’s U.S. home campus are more likely to be covered by financial aid. Students that can afford to attend a college or university in the United States can probably afford to study abroad in Italy if they plan appropriately.
  • Legal system – Students need to learn about Italy’s legal system to avoid fines or possible jail time. Students are obligated to follow the laws of country when they are studying abroad. The U.S. Embassy or Consulate is limited in the help it can provide for students that get into legal trouble. Students should visit the U.S. Department of State’s Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Bail money is not included in most financial aid packages!
  • Medical Insurance – Most study abroad programs require students to have medical insurance. Students should find out what is and what is not covered by their insurance plan. Some education programs include insurance as part of the program fee, so students should check with their program before purchasing additional coverage.
  • Transportation – The major cities have extensive train and bus networks and some cities, such as Rome, Milan and Naples have a metro system.

Some of the top schools in Italy are:

  • Universita di Bologna
  • Universita delgi Studi di Roma Sapienza
  • Universita delgi Studi di Padova
  • Universita di Pisa
  • Universita delgi Studi di Firenze
  • Universita delgi Studi di Trieste
  • Politecnico di Milano

Italians are known to be boisterous and friendly and it is easy for international students to absorb some of their passion for food, art and style. Studying abroad in Italy is an opportunity for students to expand their circle of knowledge, to make international friends and to experience life in one of the most sought-after destinations in the world … and it is an opportunity they will remember for a lifetime.

Traveling to southern Italy? Click here to see how I can help you plan your trip to Calabria or southern Italy.

Photos: Susan Silverman via Flickr

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