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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

Reviews

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William
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Simply the best...

Art History Abroad's gap year course in Italy was unforgettable, magical and inspirational.

It was so special because I had never travelled to Italy or studied Art History, so turning every street brought some extraordinary new mind blowing revelation. Thirty two years later I remember moments of that trip better than many of the years in between.

Sharing such a joyful experience with others was part of the magic. Any young person who has a store of joyful moments to inspire, will find them comfort through hard times.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Risotto. I was brought up in a generation that regularly steamed risotto with vegetables, so I had avoided risotto until Rome - where everyone was raving about it.
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Barney
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing three weeks in Italy

I spend three weeks with Art History Abroad during August 2020 on their Regeneration Summer Course. I joined them for a week in Naples, then five days in Rome, three days in Siena, and the rest in Florence.

The course exceeded my expectations by a mile. I was joining the course alone after its first week and was worried that everyone would already be friends with each other & I would be the new one; but, within minutes of arriving I had already met everyone and gotten completely comfortable with all the students and tutors. Prior to going, I had already met Marie Naffah, one of my tutors in Naples, at two different school gap fairs. I remember finding her extremely friendly & easy to interact with, and so I was very happy to have her for my first week of the course. I think that the tutors are one of the best aspects of AHA. With each tutor I had (Steve Nelson, Marie Naffah, Joe Nickols, Holly Morrison, Nick Ross and Helen Oakden) I found that I had more of a friendly relationship with them rather than a student-teacher one. The lessons were more like conversations than lectures which was perfect for discussing all of the amazing things which we saw every day.

The course itself was exactly what I was looking for. Having been unable to take Art History as a subject at school, I found myself able to understand everything that the tutors were talking about & to present my own thoughts properly. I had the opportunity to learn about whole areas of history & art which I had never thought about much before and the variety of periods, places, and cultures we covered was amazing.

When the course finished I was very sad to have to leave the group and the environment which we had been living in for the last few weeks; however, I have soon was able to return to Italy and live in Rome for 8 weeks. Walking around the city, everything that I recognised from the course brought back happy memories and I found that I knew far more about the different sites than the others around me. I had the most amazing time with AHA and I really hope that I will be able to join them again at some point in the future.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
The Course started in Sicily, a week in Palermo and Syracuse, before going on to Naples where I joined. If I could do it all again I would certainly choose to drop the plans I had before I left and join the course for the first week. I would want to spend as much time as possible with the group.

(I would have tried to describe my funniest moment on the trip but there were so many hilarious experiences that I couldn't possibly choose or begin to explain just one of them)
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Hatty
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Best month of my life

I decided to go on a month long AHA summer course around a month before it began. I was feeling bored and uninspired from being stuck at home during lockdown without anything to do. I was not keen at first to go on a summer course as what I imagined was a sort of glorified school trip. I could not have been more wrong. The students and tutors were all interesting and entertaining and I have made friends I know I will be close with for the rest of my life - including quite a few who are now at university with me! I could not recommend this course enough, I find myself thinking back to August whenever the rain or my essays start to get me down.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
I was worried about scuba diving in Ischia as I sometimes get claustrophobic. The tutors and instructor were very encouraging, however, and I ended up really enjoying the experience.
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Theo
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

AHA semester course review

Art History Abroad’s semester course is the best way anyone could possibly spend 6-12 weeks. I was so lucky to experience it, having not only educational but fun tutors who guided us seamlessly through some of the most stunning places on the planet. I met friends from places I’d never even heard of before and the lasting friendships that you can build during this enriching time are possibly the best thing about it. It is truly a blast. I found the most enriching thing to be the way in which i found myself loving learning. I felt that everyday had a true and amazing purpose, and i knew that each day my mind would be blown afresh.

What was your funniest moment?
Waking up realising that my pizza addiction had gone to far as i surveyed the carnage on the floor of my room.
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Emma
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Art History Abroad- 4 week Program in Italy

My own experience with Art History Abroad is a positively unforgettable one. It’s the trip where you will catch yourself replaying sun soaked scenes in your head, when it’s still and raining outside. If you need a reminder of all that is valuable and sweet in life you really do not need to look any further. Behind all of it lies a foundation of passion for the arts which I found infectious, to create in any form is joyous and so much more valuable than we make it out to be these days. AHA is an important reminder of this and I can’t encourage you enough to welcome such an opportunity with open arms.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
All of the tutors bring their very own individual approaches to the educational side of the trip, the art and and architecture is breathtakingly beautiful and the food...the Piece de Resistance! I do believe the best and only way to approach an AHA course is with openness, observe, be a sponge, be conscious of all you take in and what you give out will be equally as special. After a lockdown year out this opportunity couldn’t have come sooner, I could charge my batteries up with incredible conversations, new connections and memories that really will last a lifetime. It’s difficult for me to find any criticisms on AHA as my own experience was so magical! I’ll always stand by the fact that trips of this kind, as cliché as it sounds, enrich your own perspectives on life and surely that alone is worth joining for...and it’s fun I guarantee you, you will laugh till you cry!

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

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

Alexa Lane

Alexa's time with AHA motivated her to continue her study of art history, architecture, and economics at Middlebury College. She hopes to return to Europe as soon as possible to continue her studies!
Alexa poses with friends in front of a colorful backdrop

Why did you choose this program?

I chose Art History Abroad because I had never tried anything like it before. I'm a big believer of throwing yourself into the deep end and learning how to swim. So, I thought there couldn't be a better way to spend my gap semester than in a new country learning about a subject I had barely even heard of.

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

I did not go through a program provider or university to find AHA. I met the director, Nick, at a gap year fair at my high school during my senior year and figured out the rest on my own! The AHA team was incredibly flexible and responsive (despite the time difference), and I was able to sort everything out myself.

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

One piece of advice I would give to a new student would be to ask as their tutors as many questions as they can possibly think of. All of the AHA tutors are incredibly knowledgable and they want to cater the course to your needs and interests. They also have great stories to share. All you have to do is ask!

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

I would say there isn't an average day in the sense that you are doing the same thing every day. However most days follow a similar structure. We would meet as a group at around 9 am every morning and head off to our first lesson of the day. The lessons varied in location from church, to museum, to a public square. Sometimes we would take a cooking class, a private tour of a collection or cathedral, or were taught how to make Venetian masks! Around noon we would break for lunch and meet up again around 1pm for another lecture. After that, we would be free until dinner when we would meet usually as a whole group and discuss the day! Unless we had a special event, we were free for the evening, but often I would find myself hanging out with the tutors and other group members all night.

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

I was probably most nervous about being away from home for so long. My time with AHA was the longest I had ever been away from my friends and family and didn't know anyone else going on the program. But as soon as I met the tutors and some of the other students on the trip, I knew I was going to be completely fine. I think my views on homesickness changed because I no longer worry about being alone in the same way. Being away from home for some long allowed me to develop the confidence in myself to be able to chat with anyone or become friends with anyone.

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