Studying Abroad In Italy vs. Australia, From The Girl Who Did Both

by Nicole Rosania, RTC Member

Choosing whether to study abroad or not should be an easy decision to make… definitely go! Besides the amazing experience, putting study abroad on your resume will make you stand out from other job candidates, especially if you want a career in the travel industry. For many right now, the main question is, “will study abroad in Spring 2022 happen?” as there are rumors for study abroad being cancelled. We’re staying positive that it will, and your next question should be, “where should I study abroad in Spring 2022?”. However, choosing where to study abroad can definitely be a complicated choice. Love the food in Italy, but drawn to Sydney for some Australian adventure? This was me. I’m the girl who was drawn to both places, and ultimately decided to study abroad twice.

You may be wondering, how is this even possible? Depending on your major in undergrad, you may have a difficult time spending a full semester away from campus, or the opposite – be encouraged to spend upwards of a full year away. As an International Studies major, I was encouraged to study abroad for a full year. Most students study abroad during their junior year of college and in one location. I was invited to participate in an inaugural study abroad program in Florence, Italy during fall 2017 as a sophomore in college. Since I was abroad at an age younger than most and chose an area of study that had a large international focus, I was able to go again as a junior during spring 2019 – this time to Sydney, Australia. Both locations make wonderful, safe study abroad options as you’ll be surrounded by other students, epic nightlife, and adventurous weekend opportunities. However, there are a few major differences between the experiences you’ll have, so if you’re torn about where to go, keep reading!

1. Saving Money? Italy is More Affordable

Anywhere in Europe, for the most part, is going to have more affordable living expenses than Australia. This is important to keep in mind if you’re a student who will frequently grocery shop, buy drinks at local pubs, purchase books for class, etc. Italy is the winner here when it comes to getting the most bang for your buck – you’ll be able to stretch your money further than in Australia, ultimately allowing you to visit more places and even potentially stay for longer in Europe than Australia. Additionally, travel expenses in Europe are generally less than in Australia. Although Australia does have budget airlines such as Jetstar and Scoot, Europe has more affordable hostels and overnight buses. Take your budget into consideration when trying to figure out where to go.

2. Traveling Internationally Is Easier From Italy

When considering where in the world to study abroad for a semester, it’s important to assess your priorities. Are you going for quantity over quality, meaning you’re hoping to country hop and just see as many places as you can? Or do you want to explore all that Australia’s territories have to offer in case you never make it back Down Under? Would you rather spend your weekends walking through a museum in Rome followed by pizza in a piazza or a hike through a rainforest with a celebratory swim in a Gold Coast waterfall? Although international travel is definitely feasible from major cities like Sydney, Australia is much more isolated than Italy is. Common overseas adventures include Thailand, Bali, New Zealand, and Fiji – all of which are a 3+ hour flight away. On the other hand, Italy is located extremely centrally in continental Europe, allowing you to reach dozens of other countries by bus, train, or plane. During my semester abroad in Florence, I was able to visit 16 – including Morocco in northern Africa, so the options here are truly endless!

3. Comparing the Weather

Get a little SAD in the winter? Seasonal Affective Disorder affects all of us, but isn’t nearly as big of a problem in Australia! Australia is known for its strong sun, temperate climate, and active/outdoor lifestyle, meaning you can expect to spend most of your time lounging on the beach or hiking while Down Under. Europe experiences humid summers and comfortable shoulder seasons, meaning September – October and April – May are perfect for beach trips along the Mediterranean, but you’ll have to bundle up during the fall and winter in countries like Poland, Germany, and Austria. Since the seasons change dramatically in Europe, this semester abroad will also be harder to pack for. But, don’t worry, you’ll probably end up buying a whole new wardrobe from Zara anyways.

4. Choosing a Time Frame and Semester

Did you know the semesters in Australia are different from those in the US? Yup, if you’re studying abroad during the US fall semester, expect to be in Australia from February – June. Australians have their one-month winter break from June – July and return for their spring term from July – November. Although every school / program is different, this is pretty much the norm and could definitely be a problem when it comes to summer internships back home. Europe follows a very similar term schedule to the US, plus most European universities have off on Friday’s, so 4-day weeks are a huge added bonus!

5. Navigating Language Barriers And Culture Shock

The last major difference between studying abroad in Italy vs. Australia has to do with culture. Newsflash: Australian culture IS quite different from US culture in so many ways. But, Australia’s first language is English, eliminating the stress that a language barrier often causes. If you choose to study abroad in Italy, you’ll definitely need to learn some basic Italian, even in the major cities. Additionally, Australia has become very “westernized” and is overall a newer country compared to most in Europe, making it even more similar to the US in terms of culture. Italy is so rich with culture, but also quite old-fashioned in many ways, creating culture shock and a much-need adjustment period when you first arrive. It’s all part of the learning experience, though, and is nothing to be concerned about.

That’s all for the main differences between studying abroad in Italy vs. Australia. Wherever you choose to go will without a doubt be some of the best months in your lifetime, and is an experience every student should have!

More questions? Visit Nicole’s website for all the study abroad content at The Abroad Blog.