Studying abroad in Italy is your chance to learn Italian, gain a global perspective and explore a new country and culture.
Studying abroad on Greenheart Travel’s high school program in Italy will give you a chance to live in a cultural mecca famous for its history, art, music, literature, landscape, and delicious food. As an exchange student in Italy, you will live with a host family, practice your Italian language skills while attending a local high school and have the opportunity to stand out on college applications.
This program is ideal if you:
Sound about right? Here’s a quick overview:
Greenheart Travel High School in Italy alum, Natalie Berger, explains how her exchange program in Italy changed her life in her TedX talk:
Application Deadline: March 10, 2023
Apply early and save! Apply by December 9, 2022 and save $300 off a trimester or semester program and $500 off an academic year program. This discount will be applied to your final program balance, not the deposit.
Exact dates of arrival and departure depend on the host family and school you are placed in, as each school has a different start date. You will know your exact dates once you are placed in a school and host family!
Thinking about Fall 2024? Good idea to plan ahead! Check back in November 2023 for fall dates. You can still start your application now, though, if you’re interested!
Can’t commit to going during the school year? Check out our 2-4 week summer option in Florence here.
All students are required to book flights on their own. An airport transfer upon arrival is included in the cost of the program. We will provide your exact arrival and departure dates after acceptance, as well as the exact timeframes you should arrive/depart, so that you can start to search for possible flights. We require prior approval of a proposed itinerary before you purchase any flights.
Nervous about flying on your own? We recommend students and parents sitting down together to review the following resources:
For many Greenheart Travel students their first time flying is across the world to start their exchange program! You can read our alumni experiences on our blog, such as Emily’s or Madison’s blogs on their experiences flying to Japan or Rachel’s tips on what you actually need to know about flying.
* NOTE: the ability to run the on-site Milan orientation will depend on COVID-19 restrictions
Please note there is a non-negotiable $450 late application fee for any applications received after the stated application deadline.
Worried about the program fee?
Our goal is to help make travel accessible to everyone and we are here to help when you are deciding if this experience is financially do-able. Each year we offer scholarships for high school study abroad students! We also have a guide to fundraising your program fee, and many high school students fundraise in their hometowns ahead of their program.
We also offer discounts for applying early (plus there are many other benefits to applying early!) for each start date and for US families that have hosted an exchange student with Greenheart Exchange.
We’ve placed students all over Italy! Our top 5 most common placements are in the following cities and towns: Turin, Legnano, Milan, Perugi, and Lucera.
We make it a priority to place students with host families that match your interests and personality, for example, if you like soccer, we’ll do our best to find a family that also loves soccer! However, we will require that you be okay with any type of family, as we cannot fully guarantee any preferences be met. For this reason, we work first to find a suitable family rather than a destination preference.
You must be flexible about where you are placed within Italy.
In researching a study abroad program, you have already shown you are a leader and open-minded in your academic pursuits. These are just a few of the traits that our exchange students possess. You’re motivated to immerse yourself in another culture and flexible enough to live outside your comfort zone. You should also:
*What does it mean to be in good mental health?
Moving to a new culture and staying in unfamiliar surroundings without your normal support structure can be very stressful, even to a well-adjusted student. Sending a student with pre-existing conditions on a long-term exchange program could exacerbate whatever challenges the student was previously facing. In order to ensure the safety of our participants, we must be rigorous in our pre-screening of all high school abroad applicants.
Therefore, we may not be able to accept students who have struggled with any kind of mental illness, specifically within the last 2 years and/or are reliant on medication to address their existing mental health condition. Each student will be addressed on a case by case basis and ultimately it is Greenheart Travel’s in-country partner who holds the right to accept or decline a student based on their individual policy.
These include, but are not limited to:
All students who currently experience one or more of these conditions will be required to submit an addendum to the terms and conditions as well as a letter of support from their current mental health specialist. If the student’s mental health issue has been managed (post-medication) for over 2 years, we will still require a note from his/her relevant practitioner (psychologist, therapist, psychiatrist, etc) as part of the application process. We encourage you to discuss your specific situation with us directly, before securing these documents.
Please note that students who have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD will not be guaranteed any academic accommodations plans by the host school abroad.
As a High School in Italy participant, we will support you and welcome you to the program in a variety of orientation activities.
* NOTE: the ability to run the on-site Milan orientation will depend on COVID-19 restrictions
So, what about credits?
Neither Greenheart Travel nor the host school abroad provides high school credit. All credit must be granted through your home school in the U.S. or Canada. All U.S./Canadian schools have different policies. Here’s a blog post to read more about how some alumni have transferred credits.
In Italy, we cannot guarantee your host school will provide you an official transcript. If your school will not, some host schools will provide documentation, letters, and any other materials you require upon request. You must have good behavior, attendance, and performance in order for the school to fulfill this request.
Then, you should take this documentation back to your home school as proof of your participation in the program. Your home school is responsible for awarding you credit for this program or not.
You should meet with your U.S./Canadian high school before you leave and share the general curriculum guidelines for Italy with your guidance counselor and/or teachers.
Because the curriculum will vary by school and we cannot guarantee you’ll take any specific classes, it is important that you arrange the required classes required for your graduation, such as U.S. History, before or after your time abroad.
Greenheart Travel will be able to provide information about the general curriculum for your age level in Italy, but you will not know your course schedule until after you arrive in country and start attending school.
Access your High School Curriculum Guidelines for Italy here!
Please keep in mind that the grading system in other countries is different than the US. Most host schools in Italy will not grant grades or transcripts as it is too difficult to evaluate your work due to the language barrier. If your host school is able to award you grades, they won’t be an exact match to what you would get in the US.
The best way to learn about a new culture and language is to be fully immersed in it which is why all Greenheart Travel high school abroad students live with local host families. All of our host families are volunteers and will treat you as a member of their family. By being a part of your family’s daily life, you will learn to live and speak like a local.
Prospective host families undergo a rigorous screening process. Participants can rest assured that only suitable host families will be selected. In fact, many of our current host families have hosted students in the past, showing what an impactful experience it was.
In order to qualify as a host family, the prospective hosts must:
We will connect you with your host family prior to your arrival in your host country. By e-mailing and speaking with them before arriving, it will help break the ice when you finally meet in person. It will also show that you are as excited to live with them as they are to host you!
Host families have many reasons why they want to welcome you! Our host families are volunteers, meaning they don’t receive compensation for housing and feeding students during their program. Many host families love the experience of cultural exchange – they learn just as much about your country as you do theirs. Many are also former exchange students and want to return the favor, or they have children who have gone or will go to study in the U.S. Having an exchange student exposes their children to new languages and cultures.
While you’re in Italy, you’ll become fully immersed in your community, but you’ll also have the chance to travel within Italy and also Europe!
Please note these trips have been temporarily suspended until further notice due to COVID-19.
Each semester, the in-country staff organize an optional 3-day excursion to Rome for all exchange students in Italy. The approximate price is ~400 euros. This is not included in your program fee. Here’s the tentative schedule:
Arrival day! Settle in, head to the hotel, and explore the streets of Rome on foot.
Visit the Vatican Museum, St. Peter’s Basilica, Castel Saint Angelo, and Villa Borghese Gardens. Spend the evening in Trastevere, where you’ll eat a delicious traditional meal!
Sightseeing in Rome, including the Roman Forum, Palatino and Coliseum, Pantheon, and Piazza Navona. Free time to explore Rome on your own.
Visit the Palazzo Madama and Montecitorio, Campo de Fiori before saying goodbye to your other exchange student friends and head back to your host community.
Throughout your program, we will let you know about any additional optional weekend trips you can join. There are typically other organized trips to other Italian locations such as Venice and Florence.
Greenheart Travel welcomes travelers identifying as LGTBQ+, and is committed to helping you find the best program for you. We can provide information on the cultural norms of our destination countries and are prepared to advise you on the best programs based on your needs and interests.
We recommend you apply a minimum of 6 months prior to your desired semester.
The sooner you can apply the better, as acceptance, gathering documents, etc. can take a long time. Read more about why applying early is a good idea.
Our final deadlines for fall start dates are March 15, and September 15 for spring departures.
It’s highly recommended you apply as early as possible. We set the deadlines for a reason and it can be very difficult to facilitate an exchange program at the last minute.
However, on a case-by-case basis we can take late applicants for the High School in Italy program. You will, however, be charged a non-negotiable $450 late application fee for any applications received after March 15 for fall dates, and September 15 for spring departures.
You must also be flexible when it comes to host family placement, which could come very last minute if you apply late. We also ask late applicants to be aware there is a lot of paperwork to submit and you will need to be on top of submission if you submit a late application.
Nope! One of the main goals of studying abroad is to become fluent in another language while living overseas. The host family and school will not expect you to be fluent when you first arrive and will help you improve your language skills. As long as you try your best, you’ll pick up the language sooner than you might think!
All students studying on semester or academic year programs will be required to obtain a student visa to Italy. It is the students’ responsibility to obtain this visa, but Greenheart will provide you guidance and the proper documentation you’ll need to apply.
Round trip airfare to/from to your final placement site is NOT included in the cost of the program.
Yes! You will be picked up at your final destination by your host family. They can’t wait to meet you!
You must be flexible about where you are placed within Italy unless you upgrade to a destination guarantee program. We can offer a destination guarantee for an additional fee. The fee depends on how long you are going for (Year 5000 euros. Semester 2500 euros. Trimester 1500 euros). The following cities can be guaranteed: Florence, Rome, Milan.
I know a family in my program country that would like to host me. Is this possible?
This is possible as long as we have a support network in the family’s host community and there is an available nearby host school.
It is unlikely you will be placed in a city unless you opt for the destination guarantee (see above FAQ). A majority of our families live in small to medium-sized towns outside of major cities, and it is important you be open-minded to small-town life.
No. We do not change host families based on preferences or location. However, if issues arise once you are on the program, we will handle them on a case-by-case basis and may make changes if necessary.
There is no guarantee that you will have a host sibling your age. Your host family may have young children, teenage children, or grown children who no longer live at home. Regardless of the age of your host siblings, they’ll be excited to welcome into the family!
Depending on your host family, you may be expected to share a room with a host sibling of the same gender.
You are not permitted to travel on your own during the program. There will be opportunities to travel through the program and/or through your school, but you are must be accompanied by an approved chaperone to travel. Some schools will offer optional field trips.
Our programs are based on a full, cultural immersion experience so friends are not allowed to study abroad together in the same host town. You’re welcome to both go to Italy at the same time but you would not be placed together. Don’t worry though; making friends in your new host town will happen quickly!
It’s possible that teachers and students at your school will speak English. However, remember that you’re there to learn Italian!
All classes will be taught in Italian as this is a full immersion program.
All students are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at the time of travel.
We follow the CDC’s guidelines for travelers to Italy, and Italian schools also require the following before accepting students: polio, DTP, Hep B, HIB, Measles, Rubella, Mumps, and Chickenpox. Meningococcal is not required but strongly recommended.
You are required to submit a record of immunizations during application process.
You will be required to have a local Italian phone number. Please make sure that your U.S. phone is “unlocked” as to accept a SIM card from Italy! We give you tips and advice for communication while abroad during your program.
All host families (and most every person) in Italy have internet in their homes. There is also 4G internet widely available throughout the country.
If you have a laptop we recommend bringing it, as it will be helpful for school and for communicating with home.
Comprehensive medical and accident insurance will be included in the cost of your program. This will cover you for most medical expenses you might incur, like prescriptions, ER visits, doctor visits, dental accidents, and hospitalizations.
If you get sick, your host family or local coordinator will help you go to the doctor.
If you have an emergency on program, we have a 24/7 emergency number you can call. Our in-country partner staff and your host family will be there to assist you. Greenheart will be in touch with your parents regarding your emergency.
No. Visits are not allowed during the high school program. We find visits can be disruptive and limit the success a student is making at immersing themselves in the culture and can make students homesick. If your family wishes to visit, they should plan to meet you after your program is completed. In this instance, Greenheart Travel’s National office and international partner office should be informed of your family’s plans.
Greenheart Travel is proud to offer the Greenheart Club for all of our students. The Greenheart Club challenges our participants to pursue a deeper level of immersion through volunteerism. As a member of the Greenheart Club, you will receive guidance in strategizing creative ways to give back to your community, have access to tools for tracking your impact and receive incentives for your efforts as a global leader. This is a great chance for you to get to know the local community outside of the classroom while you study abroad.
You will not be able to take the SAT’s while abroad. We highly recommend taking the SAT’s prior to or after the program.
On a case by case basis, we can accept already graduated students for High School programs in Argentina, Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, and England.
We also have a list of mentors (teens and parents) that are past participants open to chatting about their experience with potential new participants. Please inquire here if you want to be put in touch with a mentor.
On the first day of school, you will go with your host family or host siblings and they will introduce you to your class. The first day is typically on 3-4 hours, so just enough time for you to settle in and become acquainted with your new surroundings. Sometimes, you will already have met your school coordinator (typically a teacher) before the first day.
Committing to studying abroad can feel daunting, but we are here every step of the way to make the application process as simple as possible! Below are the various steps you’ll need to take to be accepted on a high school abroad program.
1. Start Your Application Here. You will be sent more information as well as the link to our application portal to begin your formal application. Once the initial form is complete, you will be connected to a High School Abroad program manager who will speak with you and a parent to go over the details of the program.
2. Submit Basic Program Information: The first step in our application portal will be basic things like your chosen start date, etc.
3. Submit your application fee: A $1,500 application fee is required in order to apply for the program. This is subtracted from your total program fee, it’s not additional.
4. Complete Application & Documents: Provide more detailed information about yourself in Part 2 of the application. In this section, you’ll tell us more information like your work history, motivations for joining the program, travel history, and emergency contacts. You will also submit your documents (below) within your portal account.
5. Interview: After submitting your application fee, you will schedule an interview. During this interview we will ask you questions about living with a host family, adjusting to new situations and homesickness, among other things. You will also receive an overview of the next few months and what you can expect. This is done via Zoom, and at least one parent should also be in attendance.
6. You’re Accepted! Once you’ve completed all the steps, Greenheart Travel will thoroughly review your application and will contact you within 2-3 weeks about your acceptance. Then, you’ll get more information about preparation, visas, and placement.
7. Commitment Payment: Once you are accepted to the program, you will need to submit a $5,000 commitment payment within 14 days to confirm your spot on the program. We cannot start the host family matching process until we have this payment. Once you submit your commitment payment you will unlock the acceptance portion of your portal, which includes things like pre-departure videos, travel and arrival information, the Greenheart Travel Atlas, and more.
7. Book your flights, and get ready for your adventure to Italy!
In addition to completing an application, you will also be required to submit documents. You can be collecting the documents during the application process, but all documents will be due 14 days after you submit your deposit.
The following documents will be required for all destinations:
For payments, a $1,500 non-refundable fee will be due with your submitted application. This deposit will be deducted from your overall program cost. If we are able to take a last-minute application submitted after the deadline, the deposit will be $2,000.
Once you are accepted onto the program, a $5,000 commitment payment will be due within 14 days of acceptance. The remaining balance is due 16 weeks prior to your start date, or at the same time as your commitment payment, whichever comes first.
You’ve Been Accepted, Now What?
Start getting ready for your adventure! Your program manager will be in regular communication with you to make sure that you are on track in your preparations to go abroad.
Greenheart Travel has been working with high schoolers for many years, and there are advantages of applying for this program through us:
We also have some unique offerings to our Greenheart Travel students and alumni!
Greenheart Grants are funds awarded to Greenheart Travel participants to use for community development projects in their host or home country. A Greenheart Grant is the opportunity to create, improve, or maintain an impactful, community-focused project abroad or at home. Grant funds could be applied to supporting women’s cooperatives, schools, community centers, or health clinics, for example. Grant winners will be featured on our website, social media, and blog. You can see our past winners on our blog here.
Greenheart Alumni Program
We created the Greenheart Travel Alumni Program to provide resources and a community to support alumni in their advancement as global leaders, and a way to celebrate and reward our participants for being ambitious, inspiring catalysts of cultural exchange!
Junior Greenheart Global Leaders Conference
Each May Greenheart offers full-ride scholarships to around 10 teen alumni to attend our annual conference in Chicago. You can see more about what Jr. GGLC is and what you could do at the conference here.
Have questions or want to talk to one of the program coordinators? Set up a time to have a phone call below.
Take a glimpse into life in Italy through some student’s photos. Make sure to also check out #greenhearttravel on Instagram for more!