First of all, you have to ask yourself what you are looking for in a study abroad program in Italy. You’re probably hoping to see the as many of the amazing historical treasures. Or maybe you want to eat your way through the country, tasting as many of the unique culinary masterpieces that are made only in Italy. Perhaps you want to make new Italian friends who can help you speak Italiana and show you the beauty of the Italian culture. You’re going to need university credit too, so you’ll need a program that has the courses that you need as well as great professors.
What you need is a program that has a balance of a little bit of everything. Some programs give up a lot of time to allow students to travel away from the cities where they are based. This sounds great at first, but it usually means that these types of programs are often academically weak and they also don’t tell you how time consuming travel can be. A weekend in Paris, when you take account for time that it takes to travel to and from airports and hotels, your time in Paris ends up being only a few hours. Of course, programs that are only concentrated on academics and a local experience can become monotonous and you might feel like you’re missing out on opportunities. Again, balance is the key!
Location is also important. Italy isn’t as big as the US, but it’s big enough that getting from one end to another can take a very long time. You should look for cities that are centrally located as well as cities that are well-connected to the local rail and bus lines, so that you can make the most of your travel opportunities.
Some programs work very hard to provide support for their students 24/7. For the most part this is a good thing, and all programs should have a good, supporting staff (if they don’t, beware!) however they should also allow you time to explore on your own. Study abroad is very much about you making new discoveries for yourself. A good program is one that organizes experiences that put you in a position to explore on your own. A good program in Italy should be able to put you in a position and give you the tools to explore local culture at the micro and macro level in Italy. It’s a good idea to email programs with lots of questions before you choose so that you can get a good idea of what they can offer you.
Finally, you are going to want to come back home with new stories of adventure and discovery, but you also need university credit. You need to make sure that the program you choose will be able to give you the university credits that you need so that your time abroad won’t be wasted. The study abroad program in Italy that you choose should fit perfectly with your university experience on a whole.
So, put simply, what should you remember when choosing a study abroad program in Italy?
Now that you know what to look for, come see for yourself what Siena Italian Studies has to offer. Located in Siena, Italy which is about as central as you can get on the Italian peninsula, Siena Italian Studies offers a very balanced experience between full immersion in local, Sienese culture while allowing you plenty of time to explore Italy and Europe on your own. During a semester, you’ll have at least two long weekends for shorter trips as well as one 10-day trip and all of this above and beyond a number of trips that the program organizes for all of its students. Siena Italian Studies is accredited in the US and even has direct relationships with a number of important American universities like Ohio State University and Lewis and cLark College (a top-ranking school for study abroad).