Unlock Rome’s secrets: A new adult study program for those seeking adventure and learning

In the words of one of Rome's most revered famous first-century philosophers and statesmen, Lucius Annaeus Seneca: "Travel and change of place impart new vigour to the mind."

Unlock Rome's secrets: A new adult study program for those seeking adventure and learning
With Temple University's Adult Study Abroad program, you get an unparalleled glimpse of the Eternal City. Photo: Getty Images

That’s a slightly more verbose way of suggesting that you can change how you feel through a change of scenery. 

It just so happens that you can. Together with Temple University Rome, we investigate changes in travel trends, and how that means you can now experience one of the world’s greatest cities through Temple’s exciting and innovative program.

Back to school

After years of interrupted travel due to the coronavirus pandemic, increasing numbers of travellers are ditching short, luxury destinations in favour of more immersive, authentic experiences. Over the last three years, many travellers have discovered that time is perhaps their most valuable currency, and as a result, seek meaningful experiences when they travel abroad. 

Simultaneously, facing declining student numbers due to several complex geopolitical factors, universities across much of the world are seeking new ways of bringing in students by expanding their offerings. 

In response to this new reality, Temple University Rome has stepped in with a unique offer. 

Adult Study Abroad in Rome is an exciting new way to experience a world-class destination 

All roads lead to Rome

Anyone who wants to understand the world as it is needs to visit Rome. Once the capital of a mighty empire, still the seat of one of the world’s great faiths, and a treasure house of art, music and architecture, Rome has always played a key role in world affairs. 

To help curious adult students understand this, Temple University’s campus in Rome has developed two exciting offerings for 2024.

Commencing May 8 there is a thirty-day programme, with an extended six-week programme beginning on September 11. 

In both programmes, students select from two areas of focus – ‘Roma Antica‘, that focuses on the city’s storied ancient and artistic history over two millennia, while ‘Roma Moderna‘ examines the historical period beginning with the unification of modern Italy in the 1860s, moving through both world wars, the fascist period, and finally to the present day city of Rome.

From Monday to Thursday, students take part in a number of classes, taught by Temple’s faculty, involving many opportunities to practice language skills and newly acquired cultural knowledge.

These core classes include Italian Language & Culture and Highlights of Rome, a comprehensive overview of the city’s wealth of art history. These are interspersed with regular museum visits, where students are guided by knowledgeable and passionate academics. 

Cinephiles will also be delighted with the addition of a weekly film seminar, where films that deal with Rome, past and present, are screened and discussed. 

Students in the next cohort can also choose to attend a range of optional short courses, with possible focuses ranging from an overview of Rome’s Artists & Artisans to an examination of Migration & Identity in the context of the contemporary city. Classes for these short courses often meet at iconic locations, meaning that students soon learn how to navigate around the city, becoming true ‘Romans’ in the process. Day trips may also take students on a tour through the nearby Sabina Hills, where they can meet and learn from local artisans.

While weekends are free for participants to explore Rome, from the Spanish Steps to the Via Appia, there is the option of an excursion to famous Italian destinations across southern Italy including Naples, the preserved Roman city of Pompeii and romantic Sorrento. Students in this year’s ‘Roma Moderna’ program also visited the Sicilian city of Palermo for three days, where they learned about the modern metropolis and the struggle against the Mafia. 

Explore Rome with experts who understand each church, cafe and winding laneway

It’s not just Rome: Adult Study Abroad students can also take optional trips to such iconic Italian locations as Sorrento. Photo: Lisa H. Beckman

The word from the street 

Feedback from the most recent cohort of Temple University Rome’s Adult Study Abroad program reinforces what the research conducted by academics shows – that this growing trend of adult study abroad programs promotes fulfilment and growth for those taking part. 

Sidney Braman enjoyed his initial experience so much, that he returned once more. 

He states: “You’re going to be living as a Roman, finding out how to get around. On top of that, you have the whole Temple faculty guiding you.” 

Fellow participant Ashley Giacomelli echoed Sidney’s sentiments: “For anyone considering this program – book it!

“I think it’s amazing coming on your own, as something that allows and enables self-growth. My only regret is that I didn’t apply sooner.”

Sign up for the Temple University Rome mailing list to learn more about the Adult Study Abroad program

Susan Cohen, a Temple University alumna who returned to participate in the inaugural program, was also very enthusiastic about her experience: 

“This is the perfect program for someone who is intellectually curious, open to new experiences, or is eager to discover new ways of learning and looking at the world.

“We walked through the city—through what we were studying, immersed in the culture, and learned enough Italian to feel like we belonged. I also had many opportunities to do things that I don’t normally do.

“This program gives you a different angle based on what you already know. It helps you expand your world. And it’s a different perspective studying as an adult. I hope to see this program expanded.”

To learn more about how adult study abroad programs work, and to discover how Temple University immerses program participants in the very fabric of Rome, you can watch a replay of their recent webinar. In it, you’ll hear from program staff and former participants about this opportunity of a lifetime. 

You may have visited Rome but have you truly lived it? Make an inquiry about joining the Temple Rome Adult Study Abroad program in 2024.


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REVEALED: What studying in Italy is really like and what you should expect

If you're planning to study in Italy, there's a lot to consider. We asked international students about their experiences of everything from finding accommodation to navigating unusual exam methods.

REVEALED: What studying in Italy is really like and what you should expect

What student hasn’t at least once thought about moving to a foreign country and enjoying life away from home in a new environment? For many, the object of such daydreaming is Italy.

The bel paese is known for the quality of its higher education system and its relatively low tuition fees, which range from a minimum of €900 to a maximum of €4,000 per year at public universities. 

Ranked: Italy’s best universities and how they compare worldwide

Factor in Italy’s culinary culture, picturesque landscapes and warm weather and it’s easy to see why nearly 90,000 foreign nationals move to Italy for educational reasons every year. 

But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. A number of hurdles can turn studying in Italy into a far-from-idyllic experience: snail-paced bureaucracy, accommodation-related trials and tribulations, and locals’ often poor command of English are just some of the problems international students told us they’ve faced.

So, what exactly do prospective students need to know about living and studying in Italy and, above all, how can they prepare for the challenges that lie ahead? The Local asked current and former international students about their experiences to find out.

What to expect from your course

First things first, you should be aware of Italian universities’ teaching and assessment methods. If you’ve never studied in the country before, the chances of you being familiar with the country’s education system are close to zero. That’s because Italian universities have unique teaching methods, replicated hardly anywhere else in the world. 

Most of the teaching is delivered through frontal lecture-style instruction, with hardly any room for seminars or other forms of in-class interaction. Secondly, exams are for the most part conducted orally, with students asked a number of questions (usually around five) about the relevant subject.

Adjusting to this system isn’t always a walk in the park. In fact, some students say they never fully got to grips with it.

“I did my triennale [undergraduate course] at Cà Foscari [University of Venice] and I didn’t like it at all,” says Evelina Gorbacova, a Latvian national who is now doing an MA in Digital and Public Humanities at the same university.

“The system was such that you had to learn everything by heart,” she explains. “You would just go to class, write down some things and then repeat those things at the exam. That was very frustrating.”

Thankfully, Gorbacova says the postgraduate course she is currently on is significantly more practical than her triennale was, and allows for a greater level of interaction between students. 

To avoid any unpleasant surprises, students are advised to pore over the teaching structure of their chosen course before formally accepting a university offer. Usually, such information is readily available online. Should that not be the case, reach out to the university directly and ask for a detailed course handbook.

A student walks outside Milan’s Bicocca University. Photo by Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP

Once you have officially accepted your university offer, how should you then prepare for your upcoming encounter with Italian academia?

One thing students recommend is to start practicing your oral presentation skills early on, ideally prior to moving to Italy, and, if possible, in front of a friend or a family member.

“There’s a certain technique that you need to apply to do well in Italian exams,” says Ibrahim Issa, a British medicine student at the University of Pavia. 

“You need to have this skill whereby you can just keep on talking about a subject at will or move the conversation into an area where you’re more comfortable and confident. That’s something that people looking to study in Italy should try to get used to before moving.”

While that might be easier said than done, even a small amount of practice will save you from problems down the line – whether or not you have a natural fear of public speaking.

What paperwork will you need?

For non-EU students, this is the very first stumbling block you’ll come across.

Unlike students from within the European Union, who enjoy freedom of movement across the entire bloc, non-EU students are required to obtain a student visa (also known as type-D visa) prior to entering the country.

The application for said visa, which you will have to submit to the Italian consulate in your own home country, generally entails producing a number of official documents including proof of pre-enrollment in an Italian university course, proof of sufficient financial means, and valid medical insurance.

READ ALSO: Five things to know before you apply for an Italian student visa

Owing to the rather lethargic pace of Italian bureaucracy, the biggest piece of advice students give is to apply long before the start of the academic year. 

“Bureaucracy is a bit of a nightmare,” says Issa. “Any type of paperwork or governmental process takes so long.”

“When you’re pressed for time, as an international student, it can be a really big headache.”

In concrete terms, converting the necessary documents from your native language to Italian might be the most irksome procedure you’ll face. 

“In my experience, the most difficult thing was getting my documents translated and apostilled,” Issa explains.

“That really takes ages and, if you’re trying to do everything within a specific timeframe, which I was at the time, it can be really difficult. Luckily, my dad helped me out a lot. I wouldn’t have made it without him.” 

So, in short, give yourself plenty of time and, if necessary, seek the assistance of family and friends to steer clear of trouble.

A type-D visa isn’t the only certificate you’ll need if you want to live in Italy, however. 

After entering Italy, non-EU nationals have eight days to apply for a valid residence permit, or permesso di soggiorno. The application, which usually costs around €100, must be submitted at a local post office. 

A statue of the Roman goddess of wisdom, Minerva, outside Rome’s Sapienza University. Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

Students are required to submit a number of documents including a copy of their passport, visa, proof of medical insurance and university enrollment letter. 

This stage is followed by an interview and fingerprint registration at the local Questura (police precinct). Finally, after a three- to six-month ‘processing period’ (yes, we know…), students should receive their permesso, giving them full access to public healthcare, social security and education. 

While the previous piece of advice applies here too – always prep the required paperwork in advance – familiarising yourself with the Italian language, or, at the very least, Italian legalese, is the smartest course of action here. ​​

Italy’s English proficiency is second to last in the European Union, which means that many public officials are not as fluent in the language as might be hoped.

READ ALSO: Why Italians have a hard time learning English – and how things could improve

“Learning Italian will save you so much time and effort when you’re dealing with bureaucracy,” Issa says. “Going to public offices like the post office or the comune without knowing a little bit of Italian can be really, really difficult for newcomers.”

If, for whatever reason, you’re not able to acquaint yourself with the relevant Italian jargon prior to your permesso-seeking quest, you might want to ask someone you know to help you. 

“During my first year, I often had people from my collegio [hall of residence] come with me to the comune or other public offices,” says Issa. “That helped me out quite a lot, even in terms of confidence.”

If necessary, you could also ask your university’s international admissions office for guidance.

What about accommodation?

This is usually challenge numero due for non-EU nationals – and the first one for European citizens. 

According to Numbeo’s Cost of Living Index, Italy sits in the middle of the European pack with respect to rental costs. On average, renting a flat in Italy is cheaper than in the UK, Germany and France, but more expensive than in Greece, Croatia and Poland.

Monthly rent can range from €300 to €600 a month depending on the flat’s location, considering distance from the city centre and the university campus. On average, the monthly rent for a three-bedroom flat close to the city centre is around €1400, whereas renting the same type of flat in the city outskirts would set the tenants back around €900.

When it comes to finding a rental the safest available option for foreign students, and especially for first-year students, is to go for university accommodation

Mauricio Benitez, a Honduras national who recently graduated from Milan’s Bocconi University with a Master of Science in International Management, lived in a hall of residence throughout the first year of his course.

He says: “It was a great deal. Rent was 650 per month but everything – and I mean everything – was included, even cleaning services twice a week.” 

“On top of that, dealing with the university directly was much more convenient and secure than dealing with letting agencies.”

READ ALSO: Ten things to expect when renting an apartment in Italy

If university accommodation ends up being your choice, the best way to go about renting is through the university’s own channels. Keep in mind that the online registration process usually opens in late spring/early summer.

If you would rather go solo and rent a room privately (or just haven’t been able to book a place in a student hall of residence), there are a number of alternatives you can explore. University bulletin boards, student groups on social media, and student-housing websites like Uniaffitti, Affitti Studenti e Studentsville are all viable options.

However, keep in mind that dealing with Italian letting agencies and private landlords can be incredibly frustrating.

Gorbacova was accepted into Cà Foscari in the summer of 2017, but says relocating to Venice in time for the start of the academic year was no easy feat for her. 

“Finding a flat was hard. I had no knowledge of Italian at that point and a lot of people didn’t even bother to reply to my emails,” she says. 

“Sometimes, they wouldn’t even reply to my calls because they just saw a foreign number on their phone screen. I really don’t want to generalise but I think that most landlords actually prefer Italian students over foreign ones.” 

Besides having a rather ambiguous disposition towards foreign students, most Italian agencies and landlords also often require an Italian-born guarantor, making renting an arduous task for international students.

“I think that, whichever way you look at it, renting is just much, much easier for Italian students,” says Gorbacova. “When they [Italian students] are asked for a guarantor, they can just provide the details of one of their parents, whereas when we’re asked for one, our parents can’t really help much unfortunately.”

Social life and the language barrier

Before you plunge into Italian culture, you’ll need some basic knowledge of the language.

As previously mentioned, Italy is one of the worst-scoring European countries when it comes to English proficiency. In fact, it is one of just two countries (the other one is Spain) where English-language skills are classed as “moderate” rather than “high”. This means that most Italians, and especially those over 40, are not exactly fluent in English. 

While at university you will hardly need to speak any Italian – academic staff and local students generally have a good command of English – you will need to have at least some knowledge of the language to fully enjoy all the perks of Italian life.

Jeremias Finster, a 25-year-old from Nuremberg, Germany, recently graduated from Milan’s prestigious Bocconi University with a Master of Science in International Management

“Language matters,” says Jeremias Finster, a recent Bocconi graduate originally from Nuremberg, Germany. “It’s not just about becoming friends with local students. If you’re going to the supermarket or to a restaurant, or if you’re just interacting with the neighbours, being able to speak the local language improves your experience so much. It really allows you to have a different type of connection with the surrounding environment.” 

Your university will surely offer language classes, but all of the students we spoke to strongly recommend laying some groundwork before moving. This can easily be done with free online courses or language-learning mobile apps.


Once you’re in Italy, strive to be around local students as much as you can. Although it might feel quite natural for you to hang out with fellow foreign students, try to socialise with Italian nationals as doing so will greatly help you practice and improve your language skills.

“During my time in the country, I really tried to get out of my comfort zone and make friends with Italian students,” says Finster. 

“On lunch breaks, I would often join the ‘Italian group’ in the canteen. That was a great opportunity for me to not only get to know the local people but also practice my speaking.” 

If you’re not the type to bond with others over a risotto, bear in mind that there are also many university societies and activities that you can join in order to get yourself involved with local student life. Buona fortuna.