When I landed in Rome, I knew it would be one of the hardest linguistic challenges I’ve ever put myself through. As someone who speaks Portuguese, French, and Spanish, you’d think that picking up Italian would be just like putting on a pair of shoes.
Well, it’s like putting on two left shoes and tying the shoelaces together in a knot so that you literally can’t walk without tripping… very often.
Within my first hour in Rome, I had put my two left feet in my mouth and my tongue was also tied.
Let’s hit the rewind button for a second:
I’ve always been intrigued by Italian culture, language, and by Italy in general; I mean who doesn’t love wine, pasta, and major views? In my Junior year of high school, I convinced my school system to let me learn French and Italian back to back. The passion in Italian words always had a way of drawing me in.
Rather than struggling with learning French and Italian at the same time, taking both classes actually helped me advance faster than everyone else. At least it did before I learned Spanish and started speaking with an Italian accent.
From that point on, it was all a big ol’ mischia in my brain. I didn’t know what was what anymore.
Four years of University went by and I gave up studying languages in general in the traditional sense. Instead, I discovered the beauty of language schools and opted to study a language where it’s actually spoken.
And so, to continue my long romance story with Italian, I decided to commit two weeks to doing nothing but getting cozy with the language. Studying Spanish in Cuba with Apple Languages inspired me to sit in the student’s chair in both Rome, and Sorrento, Italy for two solid weeks.
Sono arrivata a Roma
With my backpack on and my phone in hand, I roamed around broad boulevards to get to my new home. I couldn’t deny the cheesy smirk on my face at the thought that I was alone, in a foreign country, about to meet amazing and interesting people whom I had no idea existed yet.
After ringing the doorbell on a massive door that looked like it belonged inside the Vatican, I was greeted by an adorable Italian Nonna. She was host of the massive apartment transformed into housing for international students learning Italian at DILIT, and gave me all the details I needed about my accommodation, making me feel like I really was home.
My roommates were the cherry on top; a German girl, a Dutch girl, a Swedish couple, and a guy from Venezuela who lives in Miami. In a home filled with so many languages and nationalities, it’s impressive how much we all had in common, and how much we learned about each others countries. As the week went on, we all bonded over our experience in school, and shared our funny adventures in Rome. We took the metro together in the morning, and crammed into the Linea A train going towards Termini to go to class. I knew those were the funny moments we would remember months down the line, so I made them take a picture.
Although I’ve been technically done with school for three years *woah, way to date myself here*, I never feel like I’ve stopped learning. What I did stop doing though, is experiencing the camaraderie that comes from waking up at 8AM to head to school, working in groups, and being in a room filled with people who are investing in their mental expansion.
First day of school vibes
I arrived at DILIT and was greeted by the charismatic owners of the school. After a quick written test, and conversation, I placed in level A1.6, a few steps above beginner. I really tried to ace the verbal exam, but Spanish kept coming out. Also, let’s not forget I haven’t taken an Italian class in a solid seven years.
Marina, my teacher, managed to keep me engaged in a classroom with around 10 students; and that IS NOT easy. She had this incredible method of teaching where books and worksheets were barely involved. Instead, she based grammar lessons on real life situations, listening exercises were conversations with the other students. She would quiz us as an entire class, we would sit in a semi circle to work together as one big team to answer her clever questions. We all started laughing at our own mistakes, and then had those moments of “OH, THAT’S WHAT THAT MEANS.”
The students were of all ages, and nationalities, but the camaraderie was real as we were all in the student’s seat, there to learn some good ol’ Italian.
Then we had a 20 minute break
During the break, I snooped around like the travel blogger that I am.
The building was absolutely perfect. Great office, beautiful staircase to the classrooms, a rooftop with views of gardens and pretty Roman architecture, a cozy patio on the ground level, and two other balconies above with cute little tables for a coffee break. There was even a café which served anything a regular café would serve: sandwiches, cornettos, pasta dishes, and 1 euro cappuccinos.
After the break
We had another hour and a half of class, which felt just as productive as the morning. At 12:20, we ended class to grab some food in the Café, or could walk into any one of the trattorias nearby.
I took advantage of the resources
DILIT has phenomenal faculty and staff who personally sat down with me to eat lunch and welcome me to Rome and the school. They organize cultural and social events every day to make sure students are getting the most out of their experience; the best part is that so many of those activities are free.
I took a field trip to some historic churches with one of the teachers who seriously could’ve been a tour guide for a living. Completely free.
I [aid 10 euros for a typical Italian aperitivo with one of the teachers and so many other students; this ignited my passion for the art of a good aperitivo. There was an all-you-can-eat veggie buffet, and a cocktail was included. Once again, meeting people who were SO COOL whom I didn’t even know existed a week before.
I was actually sad to leave on my last day. Although it was only a short week, I could feel myself getting comfortable with the idea of Italian class in Rome for longer than just five days. But don’t think that just because it was five days, my Italian didn’t improve. By the next week, I placed in level B2 in Sorrento. Look out for the blog about that experience.
If you’re thinking about learning Italian
I highly recommend booking some weeks with Apple Languages at DILIT. Rome is the perfect mix of history, movement, social, and raw authentic Italian culture. You can move around easily with the metro system, meet other incredible international students of all ages, enjoy an aperitivo after class (or 10), and learn the language to fully understand the beauty of Italy’s culture and people.
To book a course with Apple Languages in any language, anywhere around the world, don’t forget to use our code APPLEGO for a discount!