I have been truly blessed to have studied at eight, maybe nine different schools in Italy. But the truth is that I have actually transferred out of three or four of those programs after the very first day. So really when it boils down to it, I have only “studied” at four different programs in Italy. Yep, (much to my surprise) Italian classes in Italy can be a bit hit or miss.
Even though I’ve had a few clunkers, and a handful of days that have felt a bit disappointing, I have been equally blessed with those really special opportunities. Those opportunities where you feel like all of the stars align just for you. Sort of like when you find a school with a comprehensive program, that also happens to be in a beautiful town filled with the kindest people, right next to the most gorgeous turquoise sea. Now that is truly something special. And that is Piccola Università Tropea.
Our days in Tropea were full, but relaxed and simple at the very same time. And truly all by design. We began our mornings with a stroll through the town, just as everything was starting to wake up for the day. Some workers would be out cleaning and preparing the streets, shop owners would be catching up with their neighbors and opening up their doors, and others would be taking their dogs out for an early morning walk. We would say our hellos to Tonino as we left our little apartment, we wandered by the peaceful sea, and then we would pick out a new bar to enjoy a pastry and a cappuccino from on our way to school.
And then it was the fun part, school. Yes, school in Italy is so much fun! And honestly “fun” and “school” were probably two words that I never would have imagined putting together (voluntarily) into the same sentence. But taking classes in Italy is something that sparks so much joy for me, and is something that I dream about all year long.
Just as most things in Southern Italy move at their own pace, so is the same with Piccola Università. But this is truly the best thing when it comes to a language program. Each day our teachers would arrive with a new agenda for us, but it was always completely flexible. Our class speed and direction moved based off of our interests and curiosities, truly giving us all of the time that we needed to ask questions and explore new concepts.
Depending on the size of your class, you either had two hours of class, or four. And since I was placed with one other student, we had two hours together every morning with our instructor, covering both grammar and conversation. It was clear to me right away that the school is making a very conscious effort to place each student at their appropriate level. And that was truly a breath of fresh air for me. (I can speak from experience that nothing is worse than dedicating time in Italy to school, and not finding yourself challenged or interested.)
After our classes wrapped up for the day, and our brains were thoroughly exercised and stretched, our afternoons were spent relaxing – eating seafood, swimming, doing our homework under the shade of our umbrella, listening in on local conversations (for practice purposes only of course), walking the town, grabbing a gelato – truly just living una bella vita.
Piccola Università was a special experience. The school alone would have been enough to make the entire week completely worth it, but the sum of it all really made for something memorable. For us, there was absolutely nothing small about our week at Piccola Università, it was all big learning, and big heart.
While our courses at Piccola Università were provided for us, no financial compensation was received for writing about our experience. I wanted to share this experience with you all, because it was truly something special, and one of the top programs that I have ever participated in. I would hands-down recommend Piccola Università to anyone looking for a great school experience in Italy.