Spend the spring semester living 'la dolce vita' with an Italian host family and attending a local high school. Italians know how to enjoy life, whether through exquisite art, music food, and architecture, or the company of friends and family on an after dinner passeggiata (a slow walk). Despite the abundance of history - Roman ruins, Renaissance art, medieval towns - Italy is also modern, taking part in the European Union, keeping up with modern technology, and, of course, always leading in style and fashion. Learn Italian and explore this rich culture.
You can be placed anywhere in Italy including the islands, Sicily or Sardinia. The majority of host families (about 70%) are located in small cities. Another 20% of placements are in rural areas, and the remaining 10% of students are placed in urban areas.
Check out the Host Community Map to view where previous AFS-Italy students have been placed.
It is possible that you would live in a multi-lingual community in northern Italy: your host family could speak multiple languages due to their proximity to France, Switzerland or Austria. Family ties are close, so you can be prepared to spend a lot of time relaxing over long meals on the evenings and weekends.
Host families in Italy, like all AFS host families worldwide, are not paid. They open their homes to students in order to share their community and culture as well as to enrich their own family lives.
Italians are happy and easygoing, always ready to have fun or to laugh at a good joke. They place great importance on friendship and loyalty and are usually very willing to help others, even if this means going out of their way. Selfishness and strong individualism are frowned upon. Normally, northern Italians are a little more reserved than southern Italians. No matter where they're from, Italians are passionate in the way they talk – loud and with lots of gesturing and emphatic facial expressions.
Because schools do not organize many extracurricular activities, students usually organize their own free time. Young people can generally stay out until late on Saturday night and, if the family is more liberal, perhaps one or two other nights during the week. Young people tend to live at home until they get married, so it is possible to have older siblings in your home.
Italians love to eat. Be prepared for generous portions, strong coffee and tasty treats. Mealtime is usually a family affair; this is a great opportunity get to know your host family. Lunch is often the biggest meal of the day, and frequently consists of a big plate of pasta followed by meat, fish, cheese, vegetables and a salad. There is great emphasis on using fresh ingredients, and you can taste the difference.
Italian is the official language, although there are different dialects from city to city. Language lessons will be organized for you by local volunteers. Lessons are offered weekly for the first two to three months of your stay, and are covered in tuition. Additionally, you will participate in an online Rosetta Stone course both before leaving and while in Italy.
Learn more about the language requirement for Italy's High School Program.
Italian schools are very demanding, so you can expect to spend a lot of time studying with friends. Your host school will be assigned based on your interests, academic experience, and your host family's location.
It is very likely you will be placed in a state-run school. Italian high schools last five years, and you will be placed in the 3rd or 4th year. Students in Italy attend school Monday-Saturday, from about 8:30am to 1:30pm. There are about five classes per day, with one 15-30 minute break in the middle of the day. Students stay in the same classroom while teachers move from room to room.
Check out the Host School FAQ (.pdf)
Orientations & Activities
In addition to the online and in-person orientations that you will participate in before you depart, you and your fellow AFSers will have several orientations while abroad. These are intended to help you maximize your AFS experience, prevent culture shock and gain knowledge, skills and a global understanding. Topics covered will include Italian society, culture, family, school, language, safety and health issues. Each orientation will be tailored to your group and your group's needs. All orientations are several days in length, and will occur just after arrival and just prior to your return. They will likely be international, giving you a chance to make friends with AFSers from around the world who are also studying in Italy.
In addition to orientations, many local volunteer chapters organize activities for students and host families throughout the year. These will vary from chapter to chapter but may include get-togethers or trips to other cities or regions in Italy. Unlike the orientations, these activities are optional and are not included in tuition.
Your program will begin in New York, where you will meet your fellow AFSers from the US, attend an overnight orientation, then travel together to Rome, where you will be met by AFS Staff and Volunteers. International airfare is included as part of the tuition, but it will be your responsibility to arrange your travel from your hometown to New York. Details will be provided after you start your application.
To get more information about the visa requirements, view the Italy Year and Semester Programs Visa Overview.
To participate in this program, you must:
- Be within the age range at the start of the program
- Have a minimum 2.8 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale
- Be mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy in accordance with AFS Medical Evaluation Policies
- Have a valid U.S. passport, or a U.S. Permanent Resident Card at least 4 months prior to the departure range
- Have an open mind, willingness to be flexible, and the ability to adapt to new a culture, school, and environment
Vegetarians may be accepted, but are difficult to place. It is easier to place students with some flexibility and willingness to eat fish and white meat.
Participating students must begin studying the language prior to departure with Rosetta Stone language materials provided by AFS Italy. Students who do not reach the appropriate level by arrival are asked to pay a fee.
Students must be prepared to accept a smoking environment.