Gap Year Programs in Italy offer high school students the enriching balance of gaining independence through travel, work, study, volunteering or research in a most culturally dynamic setting. If you enjoy doing many different things and studying various topics, but aren’t entirely sure what to choose for a college degree, spending a Gap Year in Italy will expose you to the Italian language, challenge your comfort zones, and help expand your perspectives on many levels. Alternatively, if you know that once college starts you will be super-focused on your major in art, history, literature, politics, music, or international business, Italy makes the perfect backdrop to any number of undergraduate academic paths.
What Makes Gap Year Programs in Italy Rewarding?
Gap Year Programs in Italy allow you to learn from your host family and city as much as from excursions, volunteer activities and courses you take. Many programs offer structure as well as free time so you get to build a sense of community through excursions with other participants as well as settle into and live like a local, whether this means eating gelato with your friends, biking to class, or visiting one of the many art museums.
FUN FACT: How to say ‘rewarding’ in Italian: “Gratificante” (web)
Whether you opt to take Italian classes, spending a year in Italy immerses you in the language like no textbook can! Fluency comes from practice, like when you learn to order a pizza ai quattro formaggi or realize you understand the lyrics to a song you are hearing on the radio. You also get the chance to more deeply understand the Italian family and culture through normal day-to-day activities and experiences with your host family. Practice builds confidence, and there are numerous benefits to a bilingual brain![i] Italian Immersion at its most authentic.
First and Foremost
Italy is a country where you can take in the first public opera house, the Teatro di San Cassiano in Venice, view the first Renaissance architectural achievements in Rome, visit the oldest university in Europe in Bologna. Spending a gap year abroad is likely to include many personal ‘firsts’.
Some of the world’s most famous minds and talents in art, biology, engineering and science were born in Italy; Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei, Leon Battista Alberti, Pavarotti, Dante Alighieri, Niccolo Machiavelli, Vivaldi, Puccini…this is none other than inspirational.
Navigate a New Land
Having a full year to take in the breathtaking geography of Italy may mean getting to the Italian Alps, touring the vineyards in Chianti, taking in the canals of Venice, the beaches of Capri, the jagged cliffs and winding roads or Amalfi and Positano, the rolling hills and countryside in Tuscany, the islands of the Adriatric sea, or the “greenest region in Europe”[ii], Abruzzo. Walk through Rome, bike, hike, take the high speed rail service through Naples, Milan and Turin. There are regional, intercity and rail links with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia. There are likely to many opportunities for exploration and to take away a feeling of being able to ‘get around’ both in terms of transportation and also the ability to navigate across different linguistic and cultural borders.
Find Your Place
Gap Year Programs in Italy give you time to ‘find your place’ as opposed to either feeling like a tourist or not having enough time to feel like a local – whether this means forging friendships, networking, knowing where to bargain shop in Milan, finding your favorite ‘bar’ (that’s what Italians call a café).
Spending a gap year in Italy may give you time to see a lot, observe, people watch, and maybe experience a sense of personal accomplishment. Everyone has a unique list of things they hope to do and Italy is rich in history, art, architecture and more. What is on your bucket list? Visiting St. Peter’s Basilica, seeing Michelangelo’s ‘David’ in the Galleria dell’Accademia, getting to a real soccer match?
Volunteer for a Good Cause
Turn your Gap Year Abroad into a rewarding experience whether you teach English as a foreign language, or participate in other volunteer work. Many programs offer students different options and may offer a certificate of volunteer service.
Learn Something New
Many programs offer you the opportunity to take class for fun (learning to make your own pizza with a local chef) or enroll in university-level courses in history, art, Italian, architecture, cuisine or other topics.
Find a Gap Year Abroad Program in Italy
There are a variety of sponsored Gap Year Programs in Italy to choose from, such as AIFS Gap Year Abroad in Florence or Rome; choose a city or specialty to get different search results. Some of the features you may want to look for could include things like a good orientation, support supervision, vetted families and the balance of study, excursions, travel, and volunteering that align with your goals.
sources: [i] medicaldaily.com/pulse/bilingualism-and-brain-health-learning-second-language-boosts-cognitive-function-even-343132 |[ii] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abruzzo | en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_opera | guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/oldest-university | en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transport_in_Italy | eurocheapo.com/blog/italian-coffee-culture.html