At some point in their academic career, every student dreams of spending a year or more in a university in a different country. For those students who study Italian and want to take their language lessons to the next level, Italy is often chosen as the ideal destination for continuing their studies. Taking part in an immersion program through studying abroad not only allows students to learn Italian while studying important Italian vocabulary and colloquial Italian phrases, but it also means learning about Italian culture in depth. Before leaving on your journey towards speaking Italian fluently, students must not only select a university which they would like to attend, but also what program and city they would like to study in. This guide tells you not only everything you need to know about studying abroad in Italy, but everything form obtaining accommodation to choosing a university!

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Language Learning in the Italian University System

Learning a new language can already be difficult without having to learn to navigate an entirely new administrative system. While studying Italian language and culture will be a beautiful experience, you should also familiarize yourself with the Italian educational system. Whether you’re a beginner or an intermediate level speaker, you don’t need to be fluent in Italian to understand what type of Italian lessons or language courses will be available to you when you arrive to Italy. The Italian educational system is often considered to resemble the UK’s own system, with a few exceptions. Italy is made up of 60 public universities, three of which are technological universities and sixteen private ones. While there are many universities to choose from, it all depends on what your goal is with regards to your move abroad. Some examples of what you can study in Italian universities are:

  • Learning Italian as a foreign language
  • Taking language courses in a language school while also working
  • Learning to speak other romance languages and their literature
  • Studying subjects like math or science in Italian

If you’re worried your grammar and vocabulary in Italian aren’t good enough to be able to study in Italy, make sure to contact the appropriate program advisors to understand your options. Depending in where you’re from, there can be some slight to major differences between the school systems in Italy and that of your country of residence. For example, in the majority of Italian universities, attendance in courses are optional. The diploma system in Italy also resembles those the world over, involving three levels of higher education. You can obtain degrees similar to a bachelor’s, masters and doctorate through programs awarding a laurea, laurea magistrale, and dottorato, respectively. The laurea and laurea magistrale normally take about three and five years to accomplish, while the dottorato is usually completed after eight years of study. In Italy, university exams also follow a slightly different process than in the UK. From an academic point of view, the tests favor oral elements in exams over written ones. This will be a great opportunity to expand on public speaking skills and, for those that are worried, the majority of schools allow students to retake the exams if they score low in the first round. To properly prepare, you might consider Italian lessons Toronto, Montreal or Edmonton... or wherever you live!

Learn to Speak Italian through Erasmus

Learning Italian and becoming fluent can be difficult for beginners, especially those who are constantly looking for ways to improve their conversational and listening skills. For the hands-on learner who wants to improve their knowledge on not only Italian grammar, but also Italian culture, the Erasmus program can be the perfect solution. This program, available to students in eligible countries, offers both academic and internship opportunities abroad. On top of that, the Erasmus organization itself also gives out a certain number of scholarships each year for students enrolled in the program.

Practice your speaking abilities
Conversational Italian will be part of your daily life in Italy
The only caveat to this program is that students often don’t have a wide variety of schools to choose from. In fact, the program is based on what is known as a study exchange, which means that your choices will be limited to the universities and countries with which your home school and country has good, international relations with. Luckily, the Erasmus program can be flexible, so if you’re dead set on studying a Italian or language course in Italy, there’s a good chance you’ll get the chance to apply for a school there. The Erasmus program itself is structured in a simple manner. It consists of a student, studying for one or two semesters in the country of their choice, subject to the strength of their application and their level in that particular language. It is then up to that student’s home university to find the student a university in that country to which they will be attending. If you don’t like this aspect of mystery involved in the application process, you’re not alone. In fact, students often attain a list of partnered universities before they apply – in many cases the lists are available either from your home school or school in Italian online. After applying, the student will have between six months to a year to prepare for their study trip. Do you live on the west coast? You might like to know about these Italian lessons Vancouver...

Choosing an Italian Course in an Italian University

It is possible that you’ve decided that you’d like to apply to an Italian university independent of any organization. If you’d like to take an independent approach to studying, there are many different pathways to choose from when wanting to study in Italy, regardless of whether you want to take courses in the Italian language, online Italian courses, or want to be enrolled in a full-time basis. If you’d like to apply to private or technical universities, all you will need to do is to submit an application after you complete your exams. Your diploma, which is known as the diploma di istruzione secondaria di secondo grado in Italian, should be supported by a translated letter of motivation. It is important that you have a conversation with the advisor of the program you are interested in as soon as possible. They will be able to give you advice and help on issues like wither basic Italian or fluency is required in the program, the important deadlines to admissions and much more. Understanding the kind of written and spoken Italian will be required in your program is vital if you are an Italian language learner who is unsure about their level of pronunciation and grammar. You should pay special attention to the European Credit Transfer System, or ECTS, which facilitates the process of translating the academic worth of diplomas from one country to another. If your program does not follow this system, understanding what the ECTS entails is a great starting point for gauging how much your diploma is “worth.” In addition to this, you will also need letters of recommendations from your previous professors or employers, which describe in detail the reasons why you should be chosen. Make sure to find Italian speakers for this portion of your application if your program requires you to do so, and that your recommendation letters include key words and phrases that highlight your best traits. It is important to note that many programs impose a limit to how many students they accept each year. This is especially true for programs such as medicine or architecture. Whatever university you apply to, once you accept, the second step will be to assess how well you speak Italian with a language test, organized either by your university or by each student themselves.

Even basic Italian will get you far
Choosing where to study Italian is a difficult, but rewarding, choice

The best Italian universities

Much of higher education is concerned, now, less with the importance of finding a school tailored to each student and more with continuing the narrative that reputable schools are the ones to aspire to. There are many reasons for this, which is why it is good to understand what schools are considered to be the best in Italy. Taken from a mixture of both the infamous Shanghai, Times Higher Education and QS rankings, the best Italian universities include:

Times Higher EducationQS Top UniversitiesShanghai (ARWU)
Scuola Superiore Sant’AnnaPolitecnico di MilanoU. Sapienza University of Rome
Scuola Normale Superiore di PisaU. di BolognaUniversity of Padua
U. di BolognaScuola Normale Superiore di PisaPolitecnico di Milano
Vita-Salute San Raffaele UniversityScuola Superiore Sant’AnnaU. di Bologna
U. degli studi di TrentoU. Sapienza University of RomeU. di Florence

Choosing a City to study for your Trip to Italy

Choosing a university by the city they are located in can also be an important deciding factor. Whether you’re looking for the most opportunities in terms of shopping, professional life, food – or all three – these cities are often cited as the most student friendly cities in Italy: Rome The capital of Italy, as you would expect, is not lacking distinguished and historically rich universities. Rome, in fact, boasts an establishment that is recognized worldwide for its interesting past and its peerless academic quality: Sapienza. The university is not only one of the oldest in the world, having been established in 1303, but also one of the biggest in Europe. Milan The fashion capital of the world also contains two of Italy’s most renowned schools: Bocconi, which is cited as the best Italian university for commerce, and Politecnico, for engineering. Milan is also host to a number of universities, one of which is placed as the 38th best in the entire world. Bologna The Universita di Bologna is known for being an Italian language powerhouse. In fact, since 2015, with the establishment of a department of latin, Bologne placed itself as a perfect city for foreigners and locals alike with a passion for the romance languages.

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