One of my absolute favorite programs is Tutto Toscana, held in the fall. Students learn all aspects of event production, from food prep to art direction, during a 3-week session in Florence and continue on to NYC where we hold events at the James Beard Foundation. We are also offering 4-year degree programs in three distinct disciplinary areas.
There is a big difference between language learning and cultural competence. One can easily memorize words but a true grasp of culture means applying those words to both cultural contexts and everyday life.
I’ve seen students in beginning language classes who were completely integrated in the space of the semester thanks to volunteer extracurriculars or service learning components of their classes. I don’t mean “language fluent” when I say “completely integrated,” but connected to life in Italy, to living like a Florentine, to caring about your new albeit temporary community.
I was a traditional language learner myself back in college and I would’ve loved to take a break from conjugating verbs to experience what we offer today at FUA, whether it’s learning Italian through community garden activities or interacting with elementary-level kids at local public schools in Florence.
And finally, cultural immersion has another positive side effect - it enriches your own national and personal identity thanks to widened perspectives.