Year — Fall 2019
Application deadline: December 5, 2018
Semester — Spring 2019
Application deadline: July 25, 2018
Rewrite your high school experience while walking among ancient ruins and sampling the world’s best gelato. By going to a local school, you’ll be totally immersed in Italian language and culture. At night you’ll go home to your host family and community, where you’ll discover the delights of Italian hospitality and home-cooked meals. This is your chance to learn the ins and outs of Italian daily life and experience what it’s like to be a regular teenager. As a country known to excel in art, architecture, food, and culture, Italy is an ideal place to step outside of your comfort zone and engage in an exciting new adventure.
Italians know how to enjoy la dolce vita (the sweet life) through art, food, and the company of friends and family. They’re generally outgoing, but people in the north are a little more reserved than those in the south. Conversations can be a full body experience, complete with hand gestures and animated facial expressions. Italy is a fashionable place, so bring your fancy jeans! While you may spot someone in modo appariscente (loud, flashy clothing), most people have a well-tailored, elegant wardrobe.
Your journey to Italy will begin in New York City, where you’ll meet your fellow AFSers from the US. You’ll learn some essentials for your first days in Italy and speak with a Cultural Resource who recently spent time there. Then, you’re off! You’ll travel with a group to Rome where you’ll be welcomed by AFS Staff and Volunteers.
Soon you’ll be ready to head to your new community. Along the way, you’re likely to pass remnants of the Roman Empire as well as modern architecture. You might also catch sight of the snow-capped Alps or drive through picturesque coastal towns nestled on the Adriatic Sea. No matter where you are though, you’re bound to come across street vendors offering creamy gelato or crispy fried pastries.
AFSers have lived in communities all throughout Italy, including the islands of Sicily and Sardinia. Most host families live in small cities, but you could also find yourself in a rural or urban area.
Families are the focal point for life in Italy. But like anywhere in the world, all families are different. It’s common, especially in the south, for many generations to live together under one roof. Young adults tend to stay at home until they get married, so you might have older host siblings living with you as well.
Italians place a lot of importance on friendship and loyalty, so your friends will probably be a big part of your experience abroad. Teenagers like to spend time together in cafés, going out dancing, or playing sports. Calcio, or to Americans, soccer, is the cause of singing, chanting, and celebration for many Italians, whose teams have won several World Cups. Fans are called tifosi, literally "typhus patients," because of their feverish dedication. When they’re not watching or playing soccer, your Italian friends might also enjoy basketball, motor racing, cycling, or skiing.
Italians take their time eating, and often come home in the middle of the day to enjoy lunch with their family and friends. Italy isn’t a place where you eat a salad alone, in front of your computer. Mealtimes are a social event, lasting for hours on weekends or holidays. Be prepared for generous portions, strong coffee, and tasty treats. Italians know their bread and cheese, so you’re bound to taste some incomparable pizza and pasta. But you can also enjoy seafood, breaded meats, and fresh vegetables. For dessert there’s a long list of traditional pastries, including tiramisu, a rich cake whose name means “pull me up” because of how satisfied and full it makes you feel.
Italians are usually easy-going and friendly, but they still work hard at school. Students in Italy attend classes Monday through Saturday, from about 8:30am to 1:30pm. Your academic experience will offer you an excellent opportunity to learn the language and integrate yourself into everyday Italian life.
To help you feel comfortable with Italian even before you begin your program, you'll be given access to a Rosetta Stone language course. Once you arrive in Italy, a tutor assigned by your host school will follow your progress and help you with your transition. Additional Italian lessons will be organized by local volunteers for the first two or three months of your stay to really help you perfect your language skills.
"Life-changing" is hard to describe, yet it’s nearly always the first thing that AFSers say when asked about their experience abroad.
"Transformed" is another one. When you return home, if you’re like most AFSers, you’ll bring with you a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. You’ll have gained maturity and independence, discovered new passions, and feel like you can do anything you set your mind to. That transformation isn’t visible only to you, though - others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers, ranging from language fluency to intercultural competence and critical reasoning. "Life-changing" means it’s only the beginning.
Please Note: Travel date ranges are meant to help with general scheduling and are subject to change; please don’t book any travel based on these dates until you’ve received confirmation from AFS. All programs, prices, and travel dates are subject to change without notice.