"I didn’t know a word of Italian, but in 3 months, I became conversationally fluent!"

Posted on 1st Feb 2017 in My Gap-Year, Italy, Learning Abroad, Accademia Europea di Firenze

Aisha tells us about her gap-year in Italy with Accademia Europea di Firenze (AEF)


I didn’t know a single word of Italian when I started my gap year, but since I was due to study Italian ab initio (from scratch) at university the following year, I wanted to get a head start. Florence was my destination of choice, for its art, history, culture and enormous choice of language schools, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. Every Italian I met, from the taxi driver, to my landlord, to my Italian teacher, welcomed me with open arms. The warmth of the city is undeniable. And what’s more, it is so diverse; by the end of my three months there I had friends from both Italy and countless other countries and continents, such as Columbia, Japan and Switzerland, to name a few.

My school of choice was Accademia Europea di Firenze (AEF), because alongside the Italian lessons on offer, I could choose to do courses such as drawing, watercolour, music or cooking (among numerous others). AEF sorted my accommodation for me – I opted to live with other students, and it was a fantastic decision. My roommates were in Italy for similar reasons to me, so were completely on the same page, and because of all of the different nationalities, Italian was our common language. In three months, I became conversationally fluent! But I have to give most of the credit to the teachers at AEF.

Day 1 at AEF is daunting if you’re not an Italian speaker yet, as the teachers speak to you in Italian from the get go, but it’s the best way to get immediately stuck in. What I loved about AEF is just how Italian it was – at many of the language schools in Florence a lot of English is spoken, but at AEF their number one goal is to immerse you into the Italian culture. Not only do they do this with intense, enthusiastic grammar and conversation lessons, but also with a full calendar of cultural activities (the majority of which are free of charge) that meant I could do things like create my own Florentine marbled paper, visit artisan workshops, or go rafting on the Arno river – things that I could have never figured out on my own! As a result of my time with the AEF family (the community really does feel like a family), I ended up skipping first year Italian at university, and still felt ahead in the second year class – proof of a very successful trip! 

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