Italian advisers urge students wishing to study abroad in Italy to do so as soon as possible – ideally in the summer after freshman year or during the sophomore year. The reasoning is simple: Italy is a great place to finish your elementary and intermediate Italian language courses while fulfilling General Education or Bachelor degree requirements in other disciplines. Why not study art history while gazing on the actual Italian masterpieces in museums, churches, and other sites, rather than in textbooks? Why not see where Caesar crossed the Rubicon or what Roman monuments look like on site? Lots of disciplines, including archaeology, music, nutrition, and architecture offer opportunities in Italy that may not be available in central Pennsylvania. On the other hand, many programs in Italy do not offer 400-level Italian courses, so it is not a good idea to plan to complete very specialized advanced Italian coursework in the Italian major or minor during one’s semester abroad.
Penn State’s Office of Global Programs (Fourth floor of Boucke Building) is the clearinghouse for information on many study abroad programs opportunities, including all programs in Italy. Students interested in study abroad in Italy should start at the Office of Global Programs to determine which programs best correspond to their academic abilities, personal preferences, and financial situations. Some programs are offered during the academic year (for one semester or two); others are intensive programs offered during the summer. Deadlines and qualifications vary widely. Financial aid is often available.
Two programs in Italy are Penn State’s own: the summer programs in Todi and Reggio Calabria. Many courses are taught by Penn State faculty members and all courses offered directly correspond to Penn State’s current curriculum. Other programs are Penn State-affiliated, that is, they are offered through IES (in Milan, Rome, or Siena), the Temple University consortium (in Rome), Arcadia (in Perugia), and the ISI and SACI consortia (in Florence) but have already been approved for Penn State transfer credit. Still other programs are available to Penn State students, but transferable coursework must be approved on a case-by-case basis.
IMPORTANT: Once you have visited the Office of International Programs and collected information about the program(s) that interest you most, make an appointment with an Italian adviser to discuss your choice. Italian advisers can help you to determine how courses taken abroad can fit into your academic plan and provide helpful advice for planning to study abroad.