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Study Abroad Italian-Style: One Size May Fit AllHats that are one size fits all can often tighten around the top of a dome or fall over a whole head. But when it comes to international education, study abroad in Italy just may be the perfect fit. After all, more than 32,000 international students travel there a year, and they all have different interests and stay in different sections of the country, yet all seem to love every second of their experiences. Would you accuse 32,000 of your peers of being wrong?
And if you choose to join these throngs, know that you don't have to understand the Italian language to get around. Since so many tourists and international students travel to Italy each year, the Italian people are friendly and helpful, and most speak English.
Also know that, from the literary works of Dante to the scientific advances made by Galileo, one thing Italy provides students with is the ability to choose. They can choose what to study, where to study and how to let loose and have a great time. Read on to learn how.
Location Meets EducationOne major reason Italy is such a popular study abroad destination is the location of the country in terms of the rest of the world. Not only can students who study abroad in Italy explore Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, Vatican City, Assisi and more, but they can travel all over Europe during their free time. It pays to be a boot-shaped European country that juts into the Mediterranean, as Italy's geographic location has left the door open for the influence of many other cultures, including, perhaps unexpectedly, those from African countries.
Study abroad programs in Italy give students the chance to learn in an environment that's evolved along with the different cultures that ruled the land long ago. Students in Italy will notice many hints of the Greek and Roman cultures that once defined the land. The country has always been an attractive one for rulers to desire, given its physical beauty, diverse landscape and position on the planet.
Italy is one of the eight most industrialized countries in the world, which makes for a great study abroad experience for students with just about any academic interests. If art is a student's passion, there may be no better location to study abroad than in Italy. The same goes for all of those architecture fans out there. A study abroad program in Italy would be ideal for those interested in history or even international business as well.
Those seeking a top-notch education don't need thick eyeglasses to find what they want in Italy. After all, the country is home to the oldest university in the western world, the Università di Bologna, located in fashionable Milan. Italy has been a science, art and research hub for hundreds of years, and students from countries like Greece have been studying abroad there for about as long. Think about that - Students from perhaps the very birthplace of education and civilization choose to study in Italy!
Study abroad in Italy will satisfy the tastes (literally-try the food!) of just about any student in terms of culture and adventure. According to the United Nations, Italy is home to two-thirds of the world's artistic heritage, more than any other country. Not to mention it's the location of the former Roman Empire. And, if students are more on the athletic side, they'll enjoy skiing the Italian Alps or exploring one of Italy's many national parks.
Italian City LifeThe cities of Italy are extremely diverse, but they all share a wealth of cultural experiences. Architecture and art students will find themselves at home in nearly any section of the country. The great buildings of such architects as Filippo Brunelleschi and Leon Baltista Alberti will captivate students in the field. Brunelleschi's Santa Maria del Fiore (also known as the Duomo) is located in Florence, and should not be missed by any architecture buff.
Florence may be heaven on earth to the art student as well, given that it spawned such great artists as Michelangelo ("The David," anyone, or the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel?) and is home to museums such as the Uffizi Gallery, where students can check out the works of Botticelli and da Vinci. Speaking of da Vinci, his "Last Supper" is housed in Milan's Santa Maria delle Grazie church.
Students of fashion and design will be drawn like magnets to Milan, a city known the world-over for setting the standards of style. Clotheshorses can shop along the Via Montenapoleone avenue in Milan and pick up the latest threads from designers like Versace and Prada.
Perhaps the best-known city in Italy is Rome. There have been countless films made there, books written about it and even songs paying tribute to the city. And why not, when it's the location of the 50,000-seat Roman Colosseum, the Pantheon and Vatican City? Students of religion, architecture, archeology, art, history and just about anything else may choose Rome as their Italy study abroad destination. International affairs students will appreciate that the city is home to both the Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Food Program.
For those students who wish to study abroad in Italy and want an island experience, Venice may fit the bill, as it is made up of 118 islands, connected by bridges. Students can take gondola rides on the famous canals, visit important sites like St. Peter's Basilica and explore museums such as the Ca' Rezzonico and the Guggenheim. When studying in Venice, students should bring their walking shoes, as there are no cars in the city!
Living It Up in ItalyStudents who study abroad in Italy get much more than an academic education-they learn about the people and culture as well. And that entails a lot of fun! Italians are known to be religious, boisterous and friendly people who love to talk-especially using their hands! Italians are passionate about their art, food and style, and international students will have a hard time resisting getting caught up in it all.
While the cities have the bustle and buzz of the Italian nightlife, some students may enjoy studying in the area of Tuscany, which includes cities such as Florence, Siena and Pisa. Some insist that the food is best in Tuscany, but few argue that the wine is better nowhere else-things that culinary students studying abroad in Italy can decide for themselves in Tuscany.
Whether in Tuscany or not, international students who study abroad in Italy will discover that cuisine is a major component to Italian culture. Italy boasts more than 140 different varieties of pasta, its national dish. The country is also to thank for the ice cream cone, but a more popular frozen treat in Italy is gelati, the softest, most flavorful scoop of ice cream-like goodness your mouth will ever thank you for eating. Lunch is the largest meal in Italy and can last for up to two hours. Perhaps that's why students will be hard-pressed to find a store open during meal time.
Italians love a good party and there's no shortage of celebrations in the country. If they're lucky, students can check out the oldest film festival in the world, the Venice Film Festival. They can explore the catacombs of Rome, eat pizza in Naples where it was invented or get in a game or two of bocce, an Italian favorite.
Regardless of the area they choose, students who study abroad in Italy will enjoy the experience of a lifetime in a land that has dictated much of world history over the centuries. Students from around the world should take the opportunity to join the more than 58 million people who have made Italy their home. More so than a standard sized hat or clunky slippers, Italy seems right for everyone, and would make a perfect study abroad destination for you.
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