Step 2: Picking a Language School

Via Santo Stefano

Via Santo Stefano, home of the beautiful Italian language and cultural school, Academya Lingue!

Choosing which city you want to live in is a very important part of the visa process, but don’t underestimate the importance of choosing a language school. This is arguably the most important part of your journey because you will be spending at least 20 hours per week there (more about the visa requirements in Step 4: Italian Study Visa Paperwork Guide).

In order to get your visa and have a spectacular time abroad, the language school you choose should meet 5 basic requirements:

  1. Be able to provide you with the necessary documents for your study visa

Most language schools should have a lot of experience helping foreigners get the right paperwork they need. However, make sure you communicate to the school that you will need these papers sent to you from Italy. The director at my language school provided me with 4 different papers including the amount of the course, the hours of the lessons, and the exact dates of the courses.

    2. Should have courses a minimum of 20 hours per week

This is a requirement of the Italian study visa. You can study more than 20 hours per week, but if you are planning on teaching, working in another field, or doing some traveling it can be nice to have some free time during the day before or after your lessons. Also, remember that you will most likely be learning the language outside of class, passively, as you hear people on the streets and interact with waiters, grocery store clerks, government officials, etc.

   3. Organize cultural events outside of class

Dinner organized by my language school (1 of 8 courses!)

This was the main reason why I chose Academya Lingue in Bologna. Aside from their excellent teachers and exceptional instruction, the school organizes weekly events such as an aperitivo or meals with classmates, afternoon trips to nearby towns, and a daily coffee break where students get a chance to practice their Italian and drink un caffè.

  1. Focus on practical Italian subjects

You should probably learn the alphabet at some point in your linguistic journey, but knowing the Italian alphabet song probably isn’t going to help you get a SIM card or buy your groceries. Learning a foreign language in your home country is a lot different than learning a language abroad. You need to be able to speak Italian almost immediately, especially in smaller towns like Bologna where fewer people tend to speak English than in Rome and Florence. Make sure the language school you are considering has lessons that pertain to situations you will find yourself in when living abroad.

5. Be affordable

There are so many great language courses in each city. Just because a school is expensive does not mean it is good. On the other hand, some schools might seem very cheap but there might be extra fees for cultural events or school materials. Take the time to research each school and see what all of the possible expenses might be. My language school was very reasonably priced and provided us with free class materials. While the costs of weekly class trips are not included in the tuition, train tickets and meals are very affordable in Bologna (especially since you don’t have to tip like in America!).

Photos of Academya Lingue

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Step 1: Picking a City to Live In

Step 3: Finding Housing