Quest Exchange in Italy

Italy is famous worldwide for its delicious cuisine, which is often synonymous with pasta and pizza, but this country has much more to offer in terms of food and beyond. Each region of Italy has a wide range of traditional foods and specialties which differ significantly from north to south. But, Italy is also known for its trendy fashion industry, luxury sports cars/motorcycles, and diverse regional cultures as well as for its beautiful coast, alpine lakes and mountain ranges (the Alps and Apennines). From cosmopolitan cities to cliffside coastlines to charming Tuscan towns, Italy never fails to amaze. No wonder it is often nicknamed the Bel Paese (the Beautiful Country).

Come live and learn how to be a real Italian, not just one of the many tourists passing through this diverse cultural landscape!

3 Fun Facts
  • Many single Italian children live at home until they get married, even if they are 30 years old and have a job.
  • In central Italy, there is a fountain that flows red wine 24 hours a day.
  • The University of Rome is one of the world’s oldest universities and was founded by the Catholic Church in A.D. 1303.
Program Dates

Year

Early Sept – Mid-June

Semester

Early Sept – Mid Jan
Late Jan – Mid June

Short-Term

Various
3 Month
2 Month

School Life

The Italian school year runs from early September through mid-June. The Fall semester runs from early September through the middle of January, while the Spring semester runs from late January through the middle of June. Classes are held from 7:30am to 1 pm, six days a week (from Monday through Saturday). After school, students usually go home to enjoy a relaxing lunch with their family, spend time doing their homework or meet with friends. Many students join gyms, clubs and other organizations after school to expand their social circle and to enjoy some exercise.  

The code of conduct in Italian schools is a bit more strict than in the U.S. Teachers are deeply respected and addressed in a formal manner. Teachers and students in Italy have the mutual goal of learning and education is taken seriously. Arriving late, calling a teacher by their first name or not completing an assignment can be seen as an insult to the instructor. Classes are conducted in Italian and students are expected to have a basic understanding of the language.

Family Life

The typical Italian family normally consists of two parents and one or two children. They often live in apartments, which they like to keep tidy. It’s normal to say hello to people in the neighborhood or when entering an elevator or a shop. Members of an Italian family usually kiss each other on the cheek.

Italian families, especially host mothers, are considered protective towards their children. They like to know as much as possible about their lives, and they show concern over their children’s problems. This is often perceived as an overprotective attitude, but it simply reflects the habits of an Italian mother. Students do have some independence, but will often be asked to show a high level of responsibility, asking for permission to go out, saying where and with whom. Students are treated as a family member and will be expected to help out in the home by keeping their rooms tidy, helping with dinner and sharing family tasks.

Italian families like eating together or with friends, preferably during dinner/lunch. Breakfast is usually a small meal which is eaten in the kitchen and consists of an espresso, cappuccino or lemon tea and a croissant. Lunch is around 1-1.30pm and dinner is around 8pm.

The family may be very interested in speaking English with their student in an effort to help them improve their own foreign language skills. Students in return should speak as much Italian as possible with their host family – this makes for a truly international exchange!

Program Extras

Students arriving for the beginning of the Fall and Spring semesters will participate in a 2-3 day student orientation in Milan. You will meet other international students and enjoy sightseeing while learning about Italian culture. This orientation is included in Quest program fees.

Additional excursions are available throughout the year for an extra cost not included in Quest program fees. The details of these trips vary by year and season and are available upon request. Destinations may include Sardinia, Rome, Venice, Florence, and Pisa.

Program Requirements

While there is no formal language requirement for this program, students and families should be aware that school, host family and daily life will all be conducted in Italian. Thus, having a basic level of Italian upon arrival would be very beneficial, and the student must have an interest and commitment to learning the language while there.

VISAS

For stays over 90 days, students will need a visa. Students and parents should research visa requirements through the Italian consulate or embassy nearest to their home as soon as possible, as this is the most time-intensive component of the study abroad application process. It usually takes several weeks to obtain an Italian visa. As the details of this process vary greatly by location, neither Quest nor our Italian partner office can confirm the exact requirements. For this reason, Quest is not able to assist with legal visa documents. It is the student’s responsibility to research the current visa requirements and to obtain and submit the visa application.

Will students have access to Internet/WiFi at their home and school?

Most Italian homes will have access to WiFi, though most schools will not. Phones and laptop use at schools is generally not allowed.

Can students bring their own cell phones?

Yes, if students have an unlocked cell phone, they could use their personal phone with an Italian carrier/SIM card.

Can students travel without an adult chaperone if given permission?

Students cannot travel outside of the host area without adult supervision. Travel outside of the host area with adult supervision is authorized if pre-approved by the natural parents, host family, local partner office and Quest.

How much money should students have for spending money?

Students should budget around $300/month for personal expenses, which include entertainment, personal hygiene items, long-distance calls, etc. Additional money should be budgeted for start-up school expenses, such as books and supplies. These fees are in addition to Quest program fees.

What are some cultural norms that describe a typical host family in Italy?

Typical Italian host families are usually family-oriented, with grandparents often involved in daily life. Host moms are considered very protective; and students need to inform parents about where they go, with whom and the return time. Meals are an important time for the family, especially dinners when all the family members gather around the table and talk about their day. Sharing time and feelings with host families is very important and appreciated.

How are host families chosen?

Quest’s in-country partner is responsible for locating, screening and matching host families with our students. Host families go through a careful screening process, which typically involves in-person interviews, home inspections and references.

How do students apply for the visa and how long does it take?

For stays over 90 days, students will need a visa. Students and parents should research visa requirements through the Italian consulate or embassy nearest to their home as soon as possible, as this is the most time-intensive component of the study abroad application process. It usually takes several weeks to obtain an Italian visa. As the details of this process vary greatly by location, neither Quest nor our Italian partner office can confirm the exact requirements. For this reason, Quest is not able to assist with legal visa documents. It is the student’s responsibility to research the current visa requirements and to obtain and submit the visa application.

How will the student get to and from school?

Students will either walk or take public buses/trains to school. Transportation fees are the student’s responsibility and are not included in Quest program fees. However, these fees will be reimbursed by our Italian partner organization provided that the student has retained and submitted receipts to the partner organization.

Is it possible for students to get tutors during their program?

Yes, tutors are available and prices vary based on the subject and duration of the tutoring sessions. For Italian language tutoring, the cost would be approximately $18-$20/hour. In some communities, the high school itself or town halls organize Italian language courses for beginners as well.

Can students receive an official document with grades and completed classes after finishing their program? 

Usually, at the end of the program, students receive a certificate of attendance, including the dates and subjects taken. Grades are not generally given unless the student had a good knowledge of Italian that allowed him/her to take all oral and written exams. If the student is seeking academic credit and requires grades, s/he needs to communicate this during the application process as the enrollment process will be different in such a case. Students must be proactive about this, as obtaining this documentation is their responsibility before they leave Italy.

Do schools offer different sports/activities? 

Italian schools do not offer sports or extracurricular activities of any kind. If students would like to engage in these activities, their host family will help them find them in clubs and other places in the community.

THINK IT OVER

The rewards of life abroad are amazing and wonderful, but are you up for the unique challenges that come with this experience? You will be away from your friends, family and the lifestyle you are accustomed to. You will have to adapt to a new language, culture, school and family. You will have to make decisions on your own and make new friends. Think about it and do some research on the country you want to study in. There is a wealth of information on the Internet that can better prepare you for your adventure!

GET YOUR PARENT/LEGAL GUARDIAN ON BOARD

Your parent(s) or guardian(s) need to help you make your dream happen. The application process takes time and effort, so it is important, at this stage, to make sure your parents support your decision to study abroad and have given you approval to move forward. If they feel that you are prepared and understand what’s required from them, you are ready to move to the next step.

CHECK IN WITH YOUR SCHOOL

You may receive credit from your program, but it is your responsibility to make this happen. Only your U.S. school can decide which credits you can receive. You must approach your guidance counselor to determine if you can get the credits you are hoping to receive. Bring Quest’s Academic Guide with you, and be certain of what you will be responsible for.

CONTACT QUEST FOR PROGRAM INFORMATION AND PAPERWORK

Fill out our online information request form in order to receive important program information from Quest via email. This email will contain Quest’s Program Agreement and Program Guidelines for your review and signature. Carefully review all of this information with your parents and contact Quest if you have any questions. We are here to help guide you through the process so you can make decisions that fit your needs.

CONFIRM PROGRAM DETAILS

The Quest Program Coordinator will confirm with you the program details submitted on your original request form. If you’re unsure of your destination, we’ll help you narrow down your choices to the country and program season that works for you. We will speak with your parents and make sure that everybody feels informed and ready to proceed with the decisions made.

CONFIRM PAYMENT DETAILS

You and your parents will receive the online Payment Agreement, which states the total program price for your selected destination country and Quest’s payment process. Your parents will receive an invoice for the application deposit, which is due before you submit your student application.

COMPLETE YOUR APPLICATION

Quest will send you a full student application for the program you have chosen. This application can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to complete. Make sure you give yourself ample time prior to the application deadline to complete the application and supplemental documents.

SKYPE INTERVIEW

This is when you get to meet your Quest Program Coordinator and talk face to (virtual) face. During the interview, the Program Coordinator will assess your suitability for the Quest Study Abroad program. This call lasts 30-60 minutes. Parents will speak with us at the end of the call, but the first part of the interview questions must be answered by the student alone. There is no preparation needed other than to talk about yourself, your desire to participate in the program and why you feel you are ready.

WAITING FOR ACCEPTANCE

Your Quest Program Coordinator will review your application and interview documentation to determine acceptance. Our team members put a lot of thought into the decisions they make, and not all students are accepted into the program. In order to make our decision, Quest must review complete and accurate application materials. We choose students who are emotionally, socially and academically prepared for the study abroad program. We look at each student’s level of maturity, independence and ability to adapt to life in a foreign country.

ACCEPTANCE AND INVOICE

You will receive a letter of acceptance from Quest via email. Your parents will receive an invoice outlining the total cost with only the first 50% of the total due within 10 days. The final 50% of the remaining program fees are due within 30 days of the invoice date.

GET LEGAL – VISA AND IMMIGRATION

This is a very important step in the process and can be very time-intensive. We suggest that you get started researching the requirements as soon as possible with the nearest embassy or consulate for your destination country, as requirements vary by location. Because the process does vary considerably, Quest and our foreign partner office are not able to assist with legal visa documents. It is the student’s responsibility to research the current visa requirements and to obtain and submit the visa application. Start filling out all of the paperwork well in advance, as visa approval can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to obtain.

SCHOOL AND HOST FAMILY PLACEMENT

This is the hardest part: waiting for your school and host family placement information! Making quality placements takes time, and we will need your patience during this important step. Quest will notify you and your parents of a confirmed placement in a school and then again when you are placed with your host family. Write to your host family as soon as possible to introduce yourself, and let them know how excited you are to meet them.

BOOK YOUR FLIGHT

Working together with you and your parents, Quest will confirm your arrival date and book your roundtrip international flight to your placement area. We will also book your student travel and medical insurance for your trip, so you can rest easier while abroad!

PRE-DEPARTURE ORIENTATION

Your Quest Program Coordinator will help you get prepped for your trip with a pre-departure orientation prior to your departure. You’ll receive an agenda before the call. We encourage you to write all of your remaining questions down so that we can make you and your parents feel prepared for your trip abroad. We will go over the program rules, what to pack, what to do if you need support once you arrive, and more!

LIVE YOUR STUDY ABROAD DREAM!

Congratulate yourself and your family for making this happen. You are on your way to the study abroad adventure that you’ve earned!

Balance your time abroad — keep in touch with those back home, but remember that the point of studying abroad is to be present and active in your host country. Keep a blog or an online photo album so you can show all of the revelations you have had and the sights you have seen. On a rainy day, you’ll be happy to reflect on your growing experience abroad. Stay in touch with Local Coordinators and with Quest. We’d love to hear how you are doing!

Programs Available
  • Year
  • Semester
  • 3 Months
  • 2 Months
Application Deadline
  • Year/Fall Semester: April 1st
  • Spring Semester: October 1st
  • Short-Term: Variable
Apply Now

Quest International, a nonprofit organization, promoting international cultural awareness and compassion by providing educational programs for American and International students to live and learn together.