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La Vita Bella: Five Tips For Studying Abroad in Italy

by Suzy Guese

Dec 1, 2014

Colosseum, Rome, Italy © Andre Nantel | Dreamstime

Study Abroad

Italy is one of the most popular countries to study abroad. With a masterful landscape, mouth-watering cuisine and rich history, the boot-shaped country can be an Italian dream for students looking to spend some time out of the country. At the same time, it’s not always la dolce vita for students studying abroad. Before you take off, here are a few tips to keep in mind when studying abroad in Italy.


Get used to riposo time

At around noon everyday in Italy, the country seems to shut down. Shops, grocery stores and the like close for riposo, a time to go home, eat lunch or take a nap. For students, this can be a problem when your only time without classes falls during riposo time. Most shops will be closed in Italy from around noon to four or five o’clock in the afternoon.


Watch out for petty theft

One of the darker sides to studying abroad in Italy are petty crimes that can plague students. Thieves often target students, as they aren’t always familiar with their surroundings. Students heading off to Italy for a month or semester should watch their wallets and also close all their windows in their apartments when going out. Thieves in Italy have been known to come in through open windows, no matter your location in the building.


Learn your formal Italian greetings

Many students think a simple Ciao will suffice when greeting restaurant waiters and shop owners. If you want to leave a lasting impression on the Italians you encounter, go beyond the simple greeting of Ciao. Say Buongiorno during the day, Buona sera in the afternoon and evening and Buona notte for good night.


Try regional dishes when you can

Many students come to Italy, expecting to load up on pizza for months at a time. While you can find plenty of pizzerias in Italy, the country shows off with its regional dishes. Each area, every city has specialties. Students should make it a point to have these regional dishes before heading back home.


Don’t expect lines and to be on time

Many students are in for a rude awakening at the grocery store. When you patiently line up to pay for your items, most likely, some little old lady will cut you in line. There are really no lines in Italy. At the same time, Italians aren’t always punctual and there could be no explanation for why. This can be useful information when taking trains and public transportation. The beauty of Italy lies in the fact that people don’t march to a clock, but it can also be one of the hardest aspects of the country to get used to for students.



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