Why everybody should do a year abroad in Italy

Pizza is love, pizza is life

Italy, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

It’s absolutely stunning

As a country, Italy is up there in the beauty stakes. From amazing little countryside villages, to picturesque seaside fishing towns, to a mix of modern and romantic in the cities, it’s stunning.

Expect the year to up your Instagram game.


Feast days are the best

Living in such a religious country has never had its benefits like when uni gets cancelled for a feast day. Thank you, Santa Maria della Salute – taking the day off to browse street food markets is not bad at all.

Life is extremely chilled

Everything seems to move at a slower pace here, and it’s amazing. People get up later, go out later, and just generally take their time getting things done – if you’re a night owl, Italy is the place for you.

That being said, don’t expect things to get done more quickly if they’re important – if someone tells you they’re coming round to fix the internet tomorrow morning, don’t expect them until well into the afternoon.

You become a coffee addict

Espresso on the way to uni, cappuccino mid-morning, more coffee for lunch, maybe an after dinner coffee… the list goes on.

As someone who already drank a fair amount of coffee before heading to Italy, my year abroad only intensified my love for it – but even if you’re not a coffee aficionado, you’ll probably come back as one.

Then you’ll get the shakes from coffee withdrawal within days, as the English stuff is nowhere near as strong.

The Six Nations is satisfying

Being a rugby fan in Italy is always fun, as they’re the one team we’re almost guaranteed to beat. Sorry, Azzurri.

The food is amazing

You could definitely be justified in picking Italy for a year abroad based on the food alone. It’s absolutely glorious. The country that gave us pizza, pasta, and prosecco doesn’t disappoint in the culinary stakes – although you’ll probably leave about a stone heavier than when you arrived.


It’s not all pizza and pasta though – you learn that meat boards are acceptable at any time of day, that Italians make the sweetest puddings known to man, and that it’s not a proper meal unless you’ve eaten about 15 courses by the time dinner is over.

The only downside of being treated to authentic Italian food for a year is that it makes anything you’ll have back home seem pretty mediocre – and not being able to afford fresh pesto or parmesan on a student budget is pretty damn sad when you’ve had a year of cheap deli markets and fresh food counters.

Wine is ridiculously cheap

Anywhere you can get a litre of wine for a euro is the sort of place I want to live. Yeah, it’s not fine wine but unless you’re a connoisseur you’ll probably get over it.

Plus, there are little shops where you can take your own container to fill – get creative, there’s no limit on size.


Drinking in the streets is the best

Considering wine is literally cheaper than water, there’s nothing better than buying a load and heading out to a campo with friends and some speakers. And there’s always a pizza slice to be had on the way home.

You can play the clueless card

Didn’t pay for the bus? No problem, most people will believe you didn’t know how to – just play the clueless English person card and you’ll probably escape a fine.

(Un?)Fortunately for us, the rest of Europe already think we’re pretty ignorant, so it usually works.

Uni is so so relaxed

Literally, just turning up is something to be applauded. Any reason to take the day off is a valid one – exploring your city and drinking wine in cute outdoor bars is so much better than being stuck in a room learning about Macbeth for the tenth time – year abroad is pass/fail and doesn’t count, so make the most of it.

As a bonus, loads of the uni buildings are ridiculously old, so you’ll likely be studying in rooms with frescoed ceilings and crazy paving tiled floors.

Just me in a standard lecture hall

You’ll learn to love cheesy Eurodance music

Something you’ll come to learn about Italian clubs is that they almost exclusively play Europop. Unless you go out of your way to find a specific night or event that is catered towards another kind of music, you’ll probably spend your nights out grooving to Basshunter, or a more modern equivalent.

Embrace it. Ditch the edgy act and let the Euro-love flow.

You’ll become an expert at spotting tourists

Spending a year in Venice, tourist-spotting was pretty easy. But never more so than when Acqua Alta came around and they all shuffled to the nearest dodgy street vendor to buy overpriced bits of plastic to put over their shoes – which always had holes in.

You come back seeming cultured

Even if you’re not – it doesn’t matter. The very idea of Italy brings up visions of romanticism, art, and literature for most people.

So when great-aunt Joan is asking you about your time abroad, you can tell her all about that one visit you made to the Guggenheim Collection in your first week, and pretend you know what you’re taking about.