study abroad in italyAs an art history major also taking Italian, a study abroad program in Italy was a no-brainer for Emily. Now in the final week of her program, she reflects on all of the art, food and people in Italy that have opened her eyes to a whole new world.

Emily has fallen in love with Italy's culture, which is all about the art, the language and the food. Italy has contributed so much to societies around the world for centuries, and its influence on the United States is no exception. Emily has been able to score some high-fashion additions to her wardrobe, thanks to a visit to the fashion capital of the world, Milan.

Besides Versace, Gucci and Armani, (and Christopher Columbus), Italy has given the world sleek sports cars like the Ferrari, musical instruments like the piano and everyday necessities like eyeglasses. The country has given birth to some of the greatest artists of all time and built some of the most amazing buildings-and its history never bored the rest of the world!

Artistic Education

From its ancient history to its exciting present, the 'boot' in the Mediterranean provides everything the visiting student could ever want. And thousands of international students prove it each year.

Study abroad programs in Italy are wildly popular and one reason is the historically stellar education offered by the country:

  • Italy has long been a leader in higher education-the University of Salerno was established in the 9th century, while the University of Bologna opened in 1088;
  • After earning a 'laurea,' or bachelor's degree, a high number of Italian students go on to earn a 'laurea specialistica,' or master's degree;
  • Italy is constantly working to improve higher education through reforms.

Emily enjoyed the fact that Italian universities give their students so much academic freedom, because she was able to take charge of her education. It gave her plenty of time to do what she wanted outside of the classroom. As an art history student she was able to see:

  • Michelangelo's David, at the Galleria dell' Accademia in Florence, as well as his famous frescoed ceiling in the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City;
  • The works of Bernini, Raphael and Caravaggio at the Borghese Gallery in Rome;
  • Da Vinci's The Last Supper in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan.

One of the highlights of Emily's time studying abroad in Italy was her visit to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, which is the oldest gallery in the world. She also got to use her language skills every day as she learned more about Italian. Emily's buddy Brian was studying abroad in Italy at the same time, focusing on the great architecture, including the ancient Pantheon and Roman Colosseum in Rome, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and St. Peter's Basilica, with its dome originally designed by Michelangelo, to name a few.

Roaming Rome... And Beyond

Like many students, Emily has discovered that modern Italy is an exciting and complicated place-the blend of the ancient and the modern is evident on every street, especially in the major cities of Rome, Florence, Milan and Venice. The cities are electric with life at night, with clubs, bars and restaurants open late hours.

Emily spent hours roaming the cities with Brian and a mixture of local friends and other students studying abroad in Italy. They hung out at a few favorite cafes and restaurants where they could sample the delicious food that has been an Italian claim to fame for centuries. Pasta means 'dough' in Italy, but there was no way Emily and her friends could try all of the more than 140 types of pasta in the country.

There is a lot to keep students busy in Italy, whether in the cities or not:

  • Check out the three active volcanoes-Mount Vesuvius, Mount Etna and Mount Stromboli;
  • Italian locals will jump at the chance to teach students one of their favorite games, bocce ball;
  • Soaking up the Mediterranean sun on the white sands of the Venetian beach of Lido.

Italy is a big-time European beach destination, and students who study abroad in Italy during the warm months should take full advantage. The numerous islands, including Sicily, Capri, Elba and Volcano, are popular places for students to let loose. There are also many lakes for recreation, but don't expect an invite to Lake Como from long-time resident George Clooney!

During her experience in an Italy study abroad program, Emily was able to do the traditional things, as well as mix it up a bit with some offbeat adventure:

  • Sure, she ate pizza in Naples, where it was invented;
  • Then there was that trip to Ischia, known as the 'Emerald Island,' where Emily mellowed out in a thermal spa;
  • She was lucky enough to catch the Venice Film Festival, the oldest film festival in the world.

In a week, Emily will return home with tons of pictures, a bunch of new clothes and a new appreciation for cultures different than her own. She now looks through different eyes at what's around her and she can't wait to share her experiences studying abroad in Italy with her family and friends. But she's pretty sure she won't find pizza that good back at home!

Where else on earth can you study in a place that offers such terrific leisure opportunities while also providing an unparalleled education? Whether you intend to study sculpture, literature, religion, philosophy or anything in between, study abroad Italy is sure to put it all into a whole new perspective, and to enrich your life in ways you never thought possible. Hey, it worked for Emily!

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