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Adjusting to life in Italy


Ravi Newman


June 20, 2023


08:46 AM

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The decision to embark on a study abroad journey is an exhilarating opportunity frequently pursued by American students. While studying abroad may appear widespread, it is important to note that only a fraction of university students have the chance to partake in this experience. The primary destinations for students seeking international education are predominantly in Europe and Asia. Notably, the United Kingdom, Spain, and South Korea are popular choices. However, Italy stands out as the most prevalent location for study abroad students. Its allure is manifested in various forms, including options for academic credit during the spring and fall semesters, as well as internships and volunteer programs during the summer term. Italy's magnetic appeal to study abroad students signify its exceptional cultural and educational offerings.

Language Barrier

When I made the decision to relocate to Florence, Italy for a two-month summer internship, I anticipated the need for a period of adjustment. The primary challenge to overcome was the language barrier, considering the linguistic diversity present across Europe, with Italian being the official language of Italy. Despite the diversity within the country, the local population predominantly communicates in Italian. However, English has emerged as the prevailing language for conducting business due to the substantial influx of tourists and international students. Consequently, a significant number of residents in Florence have acquired proficiency in English to facilitate interactions with this diverse demographic. This widespread English fluency among the locals reflects their adaptability, global outlook, and their welcoming approach to visitors from various parts of the world. Therefore, the prevailing linguistic environment will undoubtedly facilitate seamless communication, enhancing my overall experience during this internship opportunity.

Consumer Products

Consumer products in Italy and the United States exhibit notable differences influenced by cultural, economic, and historical factors. In Italy, there is a strong emphasis on quality and craftsmanship, with a preference for traditional and locally made goods. Italian consumer products often showcase intricate designs, attention to detail, and a focus on aesthetics. The country is renowned for its fashion, luxury goods, and culinary heritage, resulting in a wide range of high-end products such as designer clothing, artisanal leather goods, and gourmet food and wine. On the other hand, consumer products in the United States tend to prioritize convenience, affordability, and technological innovation. American products often emphasize functionality, ease of use, and mass production. The U.S. market is characterized by a wide variety of products, including global brands, tech gadgets, fast food chains, and large-scale retail stores.

Clash of Cuisine

Each shop and every corner reveal a plethora of food stands and gelaterias that surpass the freshness and flavor of their American counterparts. The culinary landscape in the United States is primarily shaped by the dominant consumer demand for inexpensive and convenient options, leading to ubiquitous fast-food chains such as McDonald's, Taco Bell, and Subway occupying street corners. In contrast, Florence preserves a rich heritage of gastronomy, passed down through generations, where time-honored recipes and techniques have achieved culinary perfection in dishes like pasta, pizza, and sandwiches. The emphasis on utilizing fresh, unadulterated ingredients without the inclusion of preservatives elevates the dining experience.


How do I find a good study abroad program for Italy?

Selecting an appropriate study abroad program that aligns with one's specific objectives can be a challenging task. I had the opportunity to collaborate with Ohio State University to identify a program that not only catered to my interests but also offered an ideal location. Undertaking a study abroad experience necessitates careful consideration of the chosen destination, as it significantly influences the overall experience. In light of this, I opted for Italy due to its unique amalgamation of European culture and a rich historical heritage tracing back to the Roman Empire. Despite the exclusive availability of Florence as the sole study abroad option in Italy, I would have unequivocally chosen it over other cities in Europe owing to its captivating historical allure, which sets it apart from its counterparts.

Do I need a visa to study abroad in Italy?

In terms of entry requirements for US citizens, Italy allows a visa-free entry for up to 90 days for tourism and business purposes. Consequently, since my program in Florence spans 60 days, a visa application was unnecessary. As a result, I am officially classified as a tourist while concurrently engaging in a summer internship. If you are studying abroad for the spring or fall semester longer than 90 days then you must apply for a student visa at the Italian embassy in your country. To ensure a smooth and timely application procedure, it is advisable to apply approximately three months prior to the intended arrival. This time frame allows for the necessary processing time as required by the embassy.

What is the optimal mode of transportation for traveling within Europe from Italy?

Italy boasts a highly efficient public transportation system, facilitating seamless travel both within the country and throughout Europe. The train station serves as a prime transportation hub, offering an extensive network of trains constantly departing from and arriving in Florence. Additionally, buses provide an affordable alternative for convenient day trips, with the flexibility to plan on the same day or a day in advance. To optimize travel across Europe, the Eurail pass stands out as an excellent choice. It enables swift and hassle-free journeys between cities, thanks to the availability of high-speed trains that ensure efficient transportation with minimal disruptions.

Have questions about studying abroad in Italy? Reach out to Ravi today!

Ravi is a student at the Ohio State University studying political science. I am currently in Florence, Italy working for Relocate.

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