While studying in a language course can be frustrating, attaining a new language skill is something many university students aim for. If you’ve always dreamed of taking the words and phrases you’ve learned in your language school or in university courses and applying them to real life situations, studying abroad may be the perfect choice for you!
If you have been taking an Italian course and want to take your studies a step further, you’re not alone – in fact, there are many different ways in which you can learn Italian in Italy.
While studying abroad has become an integral part of many a student’s university study, it does take a certain amount of organization. Here are some tips on how to prepare for your study abroad in Italy and towards your journey to speak Italian.
Test your Grammar and Spoken Italian
So you’ve decided to you’d like to speak Italian, and you want to experience language learning in a foreign country? Congratulations! The first step in your journey to speak a new language should involve preparing for the way in which you will learn Italian. In other words, start by testing your skills in the language.
While this may seem like the last step you’d perform before going on a study trip to Italy, many Universities require students to have a level B2 of the language. Beginners and experts alike, if not born in Italy, will have to prove their Italian vocabulary, conversation and grammar skills by an official document.
The European Counsel, in fact, publishes reports regularly on what types of language lessons and levels you should have in order to work or study in different countries around Europe.
While this may seem unfair for the beginner, keep in mind that while studying abroad, you will have to learn basic Italian verbs and vocabulary in order to communicate with the locals. Taking language lessons isn’t just an important step in appreciating Italian culture and life to the fullest, it also shows respect for the country in which you will live and protect you against being taken advantage of financially, politically and socially.
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Luckily, there are many tests at your disposal that will test your level of Italian grammar, listening comprehension, pronunciation, and basic knowledge of verbs. Here are the tests that are at your disposal:
- CILS: The Certificazione di Itliano come Lingua Straniera) is recognized throughout Italy. Obtaining a language diploma from the CILS involves exams at four levels, that correspond themselves to the linguistic aptitudes of the speaker: daily situations, specific professional conditions, etc.
- CELI: The Certificato di Conoscenza della Lingua Italiana is recognized by the Minister of Foreign affairs and is delivered by the University of Perugio. The diploma involves exams at six levels, from level A1 to C2.
While there are many ways in which to learn free Italian, taking a language aptitude test and receiving certification do involve a fee. For these two diplomas, not only studying but internships and jobs will be open to you. Generally, the price comes out to around 100 euros, but could go up to even 180 euros, depending on the level of language the candidate would like to test for.
Prepare for Your Study of the Italian Language
In order to take advantage of the opportunity to learn Italian culture, and even more Italian words, there is a certain amount of preparation that comes with living abroad. While you should be excited about learning a new language abroad, you should also make sure to complete all the necessary tasks before you leave home.
To start, in order to stay in Italy, you will need some form of identity card. Similar to many countries around the world, you will need your passport to enter to all of the local institutions: the bank, the doctor, to rend an apartment, etc.
This will be directly linked to getting a codice fiscal. This fiscal identity number is free and will allow you to open a sign up for a phone plan, rent an apartment, find a job, open a bank account. If you’re worried that your Italian lessons didn’t cover enough material for your experience with the Italian administrative system, don’t worry. You don’t need to be fluent in speaking Italian to attain the codice fiscale.
Before leaving to study in Italy, you will most likely need to obtain a visa, depending on your citizenship status. A tourism visa or a student visa are both are determined by the motivation of entry into the country. If you are planning to stay more than 90 days in Italian territory, a student visa will be necessary. In any other case, a tourist visa should suffice.
The student visa can only be issued by the Italian consulate (or by the consulate section of the Italian embassy), depending on the territory of the country of residence that you are applying to the visa from. It will be helpful at this point if you have started to learn to speak some Italian phrases, as you will most likely encounter only Italian speakers throughout this process.
Whether you are applying to a student or tourist visa, it is important that each candidate acquire these documents:
- A valid passport of at least 3 months
- A round-trip plane ticket (or other method of transport) that is attesting to the start and end date of your journey
- Proof of sufficient financial means for your stay in Italy
- Confirmation of a hotel or other lodgings
- Health insurance
All of these documents should validate your study visa, as well as the document attesting to your acceptance into a particular study program. Learn to understand administrative phrases, as they will go a long way in your communication with the Italian consulates during every step of the application process.
Finding accommodation in Italy should not be too painstaking of a process, as there are a lot of different options depending on each person’s lifestyle.
If you are studying abroad, you will have a very important option at your disposal, which is: student housing. Talk to your advisors at your home school and your future, Italian university in order to review the options for student housing. While every university normally has a limited space for foreign students, you shouldn’t have a problem attaining one if you allow plenty of time for the application process.
If you would like to live outside of a student residence, one solution is to find an apartment or a flat share. In Italy, landlords and roommates often require a month of rent as commission, and between 1 and 3 months rent worth of security deposit. You should make sure to include this into your monthly budget. For example, a studio in a big city like Rome can cost you between 400 and 600 euros a month.
The first step you should take for finding health insurance in Italy is to look into the European insurance card – which is free and valid for one year. This will allow you, while you are a European student, to benefit from some free treatments.
The next step is to sign up for the Azienda Sanitaria Locale. Functioning similar to a national security service, becoming part of this will allow you to benefit from treatments like locals.
Financial Aid for Learning Italian
Concerning finances in general, it is worth noting that while Italy tends to be cheaper than the UK, the cost of living is about the same. Tuition fees, normally between 1000 and 1300 euros on average, should be taken into account in conjunction with about 1000 euros worth of monthly expenses.
While this may sound like a lot of money, learning how to speak foreign language doesn’t have to be pricey. If you are worried that your quest in taking Italian courses will not be financially possible for you, there are some scholarship programs that exist for international students.
These include programs such as the Erasmus scholarship. There are many students who are empowered to study because of this scholarship, which aims to facilitate the cost burdens of studying abroad and taking language courses. The Minister of Foreign Affairs also has some scholarships geared towards students studying abroad and is worth checking out.
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These types of scholarships, awarded by the Italian government, can reach up to 700 euros a month. The scholarship is, at its core, a research scholarship, destined towards foreign students who study specific disciplines.
Resources for Italian Online
Before departing for Italy, it might be helpful for both the new and experienced language learner to understand that fluency in a language will depend on the level of immersion within the language and culture. There are many online classes that are at your disposal to practice your conversational Italian speaking skills before you start your journey.
If you’re worried about what life will be like as a local, there are also many sites online that aim to give advice and information for people who are moving to Italy. Whether you’re looking for professional opportunities or more information on your study abroad, be sure to check out:
- The website for the UK’s foreign affairs
- The site for European Health Insurance
- Cultural institutes of Italy in the UK
While completing all of these tasks may seem discouraging in the face of what you thought you would be doing on your stay in Italy, namely all the adventures and foods you’d be having, understanding what kinds of administrative tasks you will need to complete will help you later on. Ultimately, completing all of these tasks beforehand will help you profit from la dolce vita once you’re there!