Why did I choose to learn Italian?
The first several months that I lived in Italy I was at a lost for words – and not only because everything was so awe-inspiring to me but also because I couldn’t speak – literally I couldn’t speak Italian! Even though I had previously studied Italian for 4 years at university, my fluency was nowhere near good enough to hold a well-formulated conversation. It was frustrating and it hindered my experience because I wasn’t able to get to know Italian people. I wasn’t able to communicate with the very culture I loved so much!
Why ARCA Italian School?
I simply began by searching online for Italian language schools in Bologna. I contacted several of them, but some of the responses either seemed disconnected or even rude, and many of them didn’t even respond to my questions! But when I came across ARCA Italian School I received an extremely pleasant and promising response. Shortly thereafter, I had a brief conversation with the school’s gentilissima secretary, Serena, and was even invited to have a coffee with some of the school’s students and teachers. After such warm introductions, I was sold! I signed up for a 5 month, 20 hour/week intensive Italian grammar and conversation group course.
What happens at ARCA?
Classes start at 9am and finish at 1pm. There is a 1 hour break from 11am-12pm where the students and teachers walk to local bar for a coffee and a snack. This is one of my favorite parts of the course because you had an opportunity to talk with students from other levels. Outside of the course, there are also 2-3 social events during the week such as a dinner at a local Osteria or a personalized tour of a church. Overall, the atmosphere is really relaxed – there usually isn’t homework or an exam. The work is done in class and it’s really up to you to decide how much you want to get out of it.
Was ARCA worth it?
My experience was nothing but valuable. In fact, when I ask myself, “Was ARCA worth it?” I have this ever-growing list of beneficial experiences:
1. I greatly improved my Italian skills. I started at a B1 lower-intermediate level and “graduated” with a C1 advanced level!
2. I made new friends from all around the world: France, Korea, Japan, China, Lebanon, Brazil, Scotland, Mongolia, and England just to name a few. It was incredibly eye-opening.
3. I discovered a new side of Bologna. ARCA’s connections with local artisans, restaurants, tour guides etc. is amazing!
4. I really felt cared for at ARCA. There was never a day where a teacher or staff member didn’t say to me “Ciao! Come stai? Tutto bene?”. Of course there were also the teachers who went above and beyond to make our lessons interesting. Andrea, whose enthusiasm is unstoppable and who insisted that we have a copy of his family’s authentic Italian recipes (check out Andrea’s Risotto Recipe), Massimo, whose student care and ability for precision is impeccable, Ludovico who always brought interesting conversation topics relevant to Italy to the table, and Chiara, whose smile and ability to make even the most beginner student feel at home – were all part of a caring and professional team.
5. ARCA makes long-lasting relationships. I still sometimes visit ARCA and have a coffee with the teachers and students. I am also still friends with many of the students that have remained in Bologna. And I know that if I ever have an Italian grammar question, I can e-mail my teacher Andrea and he will respond ASAP!
Why is Bologna a good place to learn Italian?
I must say that I don’t think my experience would have been the same if it hadn’t been in Bologna. The best way to learn a language is to really immerse yourself in the culture. With Bologna’s vibrant and authentic cultural scene, it’s impossible not to find people to speak with nor is it difficult to find something to speak about. The Bolognese love to tell you about their city and of course, their food! Whether it’s at the open food markets of via Drapperie, or at a local Trattoria, you’ll find an engaging experience for both your brain and your taste buds.