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Art History Abroad

About

Study art, architecture and European culture in Italy, France and London for a semester in the autumn, 6 weeks during the Gap Year or a 2-4 week Summer holiday course. Art History Abroad programmes are carefully structured and brilliantly taught so that art and culture come to life. We believe in a few simple truths: that art is best taught in the presence of the real thing and that tutor groups (of 9 students or fewer) should encourage discourse and expression. AHA tutors travel with the course, providing a friendly, enthusiastic approach, which has been an inspiration to countless students for 30 years. Open to students of all disciplines, students need only an enquiring mind.

Founded
1987
Headquarters

The Red House
1, Lambseth Street
Eye
IP23 7AG
United Kingdom

Reviews

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Lois
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The course is well-organized, informative, educative, and relaxing. I learned a lot through the 6-week course. I saw so many masterpieces that I was dreaming to see in person. Besides art, the trip provided me with perfect opportunities to experience Italian culture and enjoy Italian food. Immersing myself in a totally different country was intimidating at first, but later I found Italy truly fascinating. I will definitely visit again! I will never forget watching the sunset on the dome of Florence Cathedral, sitting in a random cafe while doing nothing, seeing Botticelli's “The Birth of Venus” in the Uffizi…The tutors are really nice and knowledgable, and I enjoyed the conversations with them. If you want to learn more about art history or simply hope to do something meaningful and/or cultural, take this trip!

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Alexa
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Before embarking on my journey with Art History Abroad, I had no idea I would come out the other side a completely changed person. After finishing high school I felt almost burnt out and AHA completely revived my excitement about learning and exploring the world. Every day the tutors (who live and travel with the group) lead “sessions” on a different subject in a museum, cathedral, city center, or even on a gondola. These lessons were anything but dry and often discussions about the art and architecture we were seeing continued into the rest of our days together. I often found myself most looking forward to our meals. The tutors always knew the best restaurants in the area and we would spend hours as a group eating, laughing, and talking about the day. Something that I quite appreciated about AHA was their flexibility. I decided to combine two of their courses and start a few weeks late on one of them since I had an interest in traveling to France by myself. They were more than accommodating and even encouraged me to forge my own path and meet up with them later. I also appreciated how the tutors and directors treated the students as real and capable adults. After participating in similar programs throughout high school, I found that it is unique to AHA how students are given so much freedom to explore and learn and are taken seriously in return. The tutors, directors of AHA, and friends from the program became like another family to me and I am forever grateful for the memories I made and the amount I learned about myself and the world with AHA.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Personally, I was quite worried that I did not have an art history background. I would tell future students not to worry about what other interest they might have an how those will take away from the program or make it difficult to fit in but rather how they will add to their experience. Some of the most interesting conversations we had surrounded a student’s interest in a subject I initially thought was totally separate from art history. Without having the diverse group of students and tutors I had, I would have never learned as much as I did!
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Ella
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Travelling to Italy for two weeks with Art History Abroad was one of the most exciting and inspiring experiences of my life. I knew so little about art history beforehand, but I learnt a phenomenal amount in such a short space of time and I am still now inspired by it!
The tutors were unbelievably enthusiastic about their subject and they made every ‘lesson’ so fascinating and always such fun. They were clearly enjoying themselves and this enthused us students all the more. There was quite literally not one single dull moment.
I made friends for life on the course. We ate, drank, laughed, danced, painted and sang our way through three fabulous cities and shared so many wonderful and unexpected experiences. Highlights ranged from a spontaneous silent disco in a beautiful square in Venice to a private opera performance from one of our tutors on one of the bridges and from ‘nun-splitting’ in the Vatican to devouring delicious pizza and gelato. Another amazing experience was watching the sunrise, with prosecco, over the roman forum on our last morning before our flight home. This trip really had it all.
I had never been to Italy before and to physically step into the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican and many wonderful churches and museums, rather than just looking at them in books, was unbelievable and I fell in love with it all. To learn by experiencing something first hand is unbeatable.
This trip really was a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget and I honestly cannot recommend it enough.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Not knowing anyone one else going on the trip was scary and I was really nervous. However, everyone was so friendly and I had made good friends before we had even got on the plane. I also found that I had connections to multiple of the people on the trip, such as knowing the same friends outside of the course. Everyone is scared and nervous at the beginning but therefore everyone is really friendly.
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William
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

For anyone thinking of pursuing a future in Art History or any creative field, AHA is without doubt an eye opening experience that will exceed your expectations. The course provides an inviting social environment that encourages individuality within members of the group and aids the challenging yet engaging opportunities that the course offers. Each location that you visit gives plenty of time to inhale the cultural differences between each region, and how history has influenced its infrastructure and people throughout time. I can safely say from my experience that I discovered so much about the wealth of locations such as Florence, Naples and Rome. And how important they were in establishing Italy as a powerhouse of the arts from a contemporary view of today, reflecting on the time period.

The best offer to the course is definitely the tutors who are extremely insightful with both their opinions and factual knowledge to each location we visited. They provide an intimate and engaging setting when they take you to visit galleries, monuments etc.. which personally cannot be provided in regular tour groups. The teaching style of the tutors were a big reason for artists I found a new interest in, you also will find yourself becoming invested into certain figures depicted and not just the artist themselves. I especially became fascinated with the life story of Mary Magdalene, after being in awe of Donatello's emaciated wood sculpture 'Penitent Magdalene' at The Opera del Duomo Museum in Florence.

Looking on the course as a total package it was the most insightful and intriguing experience i've had abroad! Packed full of curricular activities, workshops and including free time to do some independent research around the cities and capitals we visited. The itinerary includes entry to exhibits to all galleries of medieval, renaissance, modern and contemporary stature. Workshops allowed us to take handcrafted pieces home and providing demonstrations of traditional techniques used to make sculptures, mosaics and frescos. These making both great memories and ideal presents if you wish to give them to relatives and loved ones.
Tutors will take you to the most authentic restaurant locations in each city, steering you clear of tourism traps of overcharged prices for food, which becomes especially useful for lunch and supper. All in all it's an course I would urge anyone who is interested art, history, architecture or even in general to get involved with AHA, it's a great way to spend part of your gap year anywhere from 2 to 6 or 12 weeks engulfing the culture of Italy and form your own opinion of the place itself.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Make sure to keep your whereabouts at all time, despite it seeming like a safe environment its best to be on the safe side. In particular with cons and beggars around the streets offering you 'free' gifts.
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William
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The Art History Abroad Autumn European Gap Semester Program is a wonderfully enriching intellectual experience for gap year students. The Program's knowledgeable tutors teach the history of Europe not through dry lectures but through engaging and immersive "sessions" in which students get to interact with history in a first-hand manner through the art and architecture that they encounter. Art History Abroad also teaches students how to navigate life away from home effectively. The Gap Semester fosters a spirit of maturity in all Art History Abroad students. Aside from the appeal of the Gap Semester with respect to the growth of students, the 12 weeks students and tutors spend together in Europe are unbelievably enjoyable.

Programs

Displaying 1 - 5 of 5
Art History Abroad
6-week Gap Year Course in Italy | Art History Abroad
Italy
9.98 •52 reviews

This course travels through Italy four times a year, exploring all...

Art History Abroad
Art History Abroad | Summer Gap Courses in Italy
Italy
9.79 •29 reviews

If you are between 17 and 22, AHA's 2-4 weeks courses are a brilliant...

Art History Abroad
Art History Abroad | The Autumn European Gap Semester Program
Multiple Countries
9.88 •17 reviews

Starting college in the spring or taking a Gap Year? Why not kick...

Art History Abroad
Art History Abroad | The UK Programme
England

Starting college in the spring or taking a Gap Year? Why not kick...

Art History Abroad
AHA Arts and Culture Festival
England

The AHA Arts and Culture Festival is a gathering of fewer than 25...

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Lana Singer

Lana graduated high school in May 2016 and has taken a gap year before heading to university. She is interested in anthropology, history, art, and global cultures, and hopes to travel more in the near future.

Why did you choose this program?

Anyone can read about the works of Michelangelo or the ancient city of Pompeii, but AHA gave me the rare opportunity to see them in the flesh and form my own opinions about them.

I gained so much knowledge just from living the history over learning it in a classroom. And a chance to go to Italy for a month and a half - who could pass that up?

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

I had a Gap Year advisor who directed me toward AHA when she learned of my interest in art and history. Most of the ground work to get me into the program was my own responsibility. I had to make sure I applied by the deadline, send in a deposit, and scan in any materials AHA needed for their records. I scheduled my own flights (although they gave us the opportunity to fly as a group from London), and budgeted myself (meals not included) throughout the program.

The actual sessions, including where we were going and what we were learning, were beyond my control. The tutors were more than happy to help us if we needed direction or had any issues.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Try something new every day. I didn't want to spend my gap year falling into the same routine I always have. I could have stayed at home for that. I would have missed out on so much had I not stepped out of my comfort zone and made each day a memorable one.

For example, I would have never sung in public before the trip. We took a nighttime gondola ride in Venice, and everyone on my boat was telling stories or making jokes. They asked me what I wanted to do, and I sang.

It was the most amazing feeling, and I remember savoring every moment because I knew I would never have this chance again.

For those on the fence about going abroad, I say (as someone who was also not certain about traveling) that the world has so much to offer you, and you would be doing a great disservice to yourself by not taking advantage of it.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Each day we had a morning session and an afternoon session. The sessions were somewhat like university lecture and discussion classes, where the tutors would explain the significance of the certain artwork, architectural design, or historical context we were studying that particular day.

We normally had quite a long lunch break, as well as leisure time before dinners. The evenings were mostly for us to explore whatever city we were in, and the tutors were very lax about how we spent our free time. We were all adults, and we were treated as such, with trust in our conduct and our capability to navigate ourselves without constant supervision.

We did have some days where we took trips outside of the host city (such as Pisa, Pompeii, Padua, and the islands of Burano and Murano outside of Venice). We also sometimes had free mornings or afternoons, where no sessions were planned and we were given the opportunity to take care of any personal business. Other than those occasional abnormalities, the itinerary was basically routine.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My biggest fear initially was having to adjust to a completely different lifestyle than what I was used to. I had already been in Europe for over a month, working on archaeological digs in Romania. So, the shock of being away from home had left me long before my time with AHA had begun.

However, I had grown so accustomed to that way of living, I had no idea what to expect once I got to Italy. I had to adapt to a new language, new people, and a new side of Europe I was not familiar with.

I realized once I reached Italy that I couldn't just retreat into timidity because I was uncomfortable. I just took everything in stride and learned that even though I was in uncharted territory, it doesn't mean it would stay that way forever.

What made this experience special for you?

The people. I saw some of the most famous works of art in history, but there is no way I would have learned as much as I did if I had gone alone. There is immense value in seeing through someone else's eyes.

There were times when a fellow student caught a nuance in a painting or a sculpture that I would have never noticed. It is amazing how twenty-odd people can be looking at the exact same thing, and yet each person has a unique perspective to share.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Henry Tudor-Pole

Job Title
Tutor
Henry has studied art at the Royal Drawing School, London, St. John's College, Oxford, and the Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa. He continues to do so as a tutor with Art History Abroad.

What is your favorite travel memory?

It's got to be attending the New Generation Festival in Florence, an extravagant three-night celebration of music and theatre, with young performers and a young audience soaking up the atmosphere on the grounds of the Corsini Palace. One night, the concert went on to the Ognissanti church, and I don't think anyone sitting in that magical, Baroque interior was left with a dry eye.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Working with AHA has significantly developed me as a person in several respects. Of course, it has deepened my awareness of art and my sense of the past, but it has also built my confidence in small ways that are manifested in everyday life at home, which can be hard to describe. I am better at speaking to an audience and bringing the subject to life.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

One student became fascinated with Dante's Divine Comedy after encountering it on an AHA course and told the story back to me in a way that made me see it afresh. He then went on to take up cookery and invented a meal based on Dante's journey through Hell, Purgatory and Paradise! I can't imagine a more original interpretation.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I would choose the Southern Italy program, for the chance to learn more about the Kingdom of Sicily. I am fascinated by the hotbed of cultural exchange that was twelfth-century Sicily, and also by the sultry chaos of modern Palermo and Naples. There is an epic, romantic quality to the south that I find appealing. The food is not bad, either.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

To be part of a team like AHA's is a constant source of delight. I can't imagine many companies are so warm and decent at every level of the organization, and I feel lucky to be a part of it. I felt proud of the team when we got together in London to see another tutor playing a gig in Shepherd's Bush.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Probably it's to do with giving students the opportunity to grow in their own ways and according to their own will and not along with a set of predetermined rails. The company sets up the conditions in which students can have an enriching experience, at which point it is exciting to see what they are able to make of it.

Professional Associations