Program description

Intercultura accepts host families of all kinds (families with children of all ages, parents with no children, single parents – male or female, homosexual parents). The most important factor is that the host families demonstrate that they share the same ideals of the Association and the desire to know another culture by having a foreign student in their home, sharing their daily lives together and being ready to question themselves regarding their own personal culture. They often decide to host to learn about another country, to acquaint one’s children with a person of his/her age, to have a child (in cases where parents do not have their own), to “experiment” with the program with which one’s own children may have participated in, or to take advantage of the host student’s language capacities…there are many reasons, but they have all agreed to take you into their home as one of their own children.

Intercultura volunteers will always be by your side during your time in Italy. Local chapters often organize public and private events where host families and students can socialize and share experiences, fears and doubts. Two regional meetings are organized (one at the beginning and one at the end of the exchange) for all the foreign students in one area, and all foreign students hosted in Italy find themselves together one last time before flying home.

Each student has a liaison they can rely on during their time in Italy. This contact person is a volunteer who will be by your side, helping you getting into your Italian life and acting as a medium between you and your family. Especially young volunteers are happy to organize activities for exchange students throughout the year and they are willing to help you, may the necessity rise. Moreover, each school has an exchange coordinator who will act as foreign students’ tutor during their time in Italy, helping them sorting out an ideal timetable and introducing them to their classmates and teachers.

If you would like to know more about Intercultura, please visit this page.
When people think of the typical Italian family, most likely they imagine a large family. Perhaps this was true some time ago, but things are different nowadays. The average family generally consists of parents and one or two children. There is also an increasing number of one-parent families. Parents tend to be more apprehensive than parents of other countries, sometimes over-protective.
Italian family still remains one of the cornerstones of the society. Family members tend to depend on one another quite a bit for both material and moral support in everyday life. Even after marriage, the ties between children and parents and other relatives generally remain close. On the weekends, at Christmas and Easter, families often get together with their relatives.
It is very common that both parents have jobs outside the home, and in this case the domestic chores are divided among the members of the family; however, there are still many Italian housewives who spend most of their time at home. Being a new member of the family, you, too, will be asked to take part in some domestic chores!
Houses in Italy vary quite a bit. Generally there are three types: apartment or condominium, a big country house surrounded by land, or a townhouse with a small garden (yard). Many Italian families, especially in the cities, live in apartments.
It is important to note that smoking cigarettes (also cigarettes rolled by hand) is still common in Italy, amongst adults but also adolescents. Illegal for adolescents (under 18) to buy cigarettes.
Italians place a lot of importance on friendship and loyalty, so your friends will probably be a big part of your experience abroad. Teenagers like to spend time together in cafés, walking around town, going out dancing, or playing sports. Calcio, Italian football/soccer league, is the cause of singing, chanting, and celebration for many Italians.
Many teens tend to observe the exchange students that arrive in Italy, before actually approaching them. It is generally better for the exchange students to make the first move by presenting themselves to others and asking questions, rather than waiting for the others to do so.
Italians generally use loud tones of voice. You’ll notice that there is often more than one person speaking at the same time. This can give the impression that people are arguing, but in reality they are only sharing points of view.
Italians are very well known for using their hands a lot when speaking! Whole conversations can be held only by using gestures!
Italians tend to be affectionate and touch each other when they speak, many times not leaving much personal space between two people who are speaking.
When Italians greet each other they often kiss each other on the two cheeks and/or shake hands.
Cell phones are widely used. It is important that you follow the host family rules; however, in general, it is preferable that the phone is not used while at the dinner table nor when in class at school.
School plays a fundamental role in your experience in Italy, as, similarly, it is the most important part in the average Italian teenager’s life. Once you become a regular student, just like your Italian schoolmates, you have the same rights and the same responsibilities.

Since school occupies such a large amount of time, it is important for you to consider it not only as a place to study, but also as a meeting place to make friends. It is very uncommon for Italian schools to have extra-curricular activities such as sports, drama etc. but Italian cities and towns often have leisure centres, libraries and other institutions that organize sport activities or foreign languages courses, photography classes, drama clubs and so on.
  • The scuola media superiore (high school) in Italy lasts for five years. There are different varieties of high school as every student, at the end of middle school, is called to enroll in a school according to their personal interests and what kind of future career they want for themselves. There are academic, technical and vocational schools.
  • The school year starts in mid-September and ends in June. Some one day civil holidays are spread over the school year and in some regions, the School Authorities may foresee a few other days of vacation.
  • School days are Monday-Saturday. (Some schools may have a “short week” – Monday to Friday). The day usually starts about 8.00 and finishes about 1.30.
  • There are normally 5-6 periods a day – each about 50 minutes long.
  • A typical class has 25 or more students.
  • Students are of the ages 14-19.
  • Lunch is not served in the Italian schools.
Students have their lessons in the same classroom, while teachers alternate classrooms. The relationships between students and teachers are somewhat formal. Even when on friendly terms, pupils are always encouraged to be respectful of teachers’ authority.
Since schools do not offer social activities, youngsters must find activities to do by themselves: gym, sports, lessons in singing/musical instruments, etc.
On the week-ends, adolescents tend to get together and go to the cinema, go to the discotech, simply stay in the town square and talk (it doesn't cost money!), go to the bar and have a coffee/soft drink.
Many families go to the grandparents' home on Sunday for lunch and spend time together going to nearby towns. Host families give a lot of importance to historical aspects of the country, such as churches and museums, and are very proud of them! It is important for you to show appreciation for their efforts in sharing their historical treasures, even if you would rather be shopping! You will have plenty of time for that as well.

Meals are important moments of the day for Italians. While eating, the family members spend time talking about what has been going on at school, at work, with friends and so on. A lot of importance is given to current events and politics, as well. Very often, the families keep the television on while eating their meal or while they are at the table, so they can watch and discuss what is happening in the news (on local, national and international levels).
Meal times vary from family to family, but generally the meals are eaten at the following times:
  • colazione (breakfast) between 7:00 and 8:00am
  • pranzo (lunch) between 1:00 and 2:00pm
  • cena (dinner) between 7:30 and 9:00pm
Especially at noon it may happen that some members of the family do not come home for lunch; in any case, the family members that are at home do have their lunch together.
Italians generally have a light breakfast of caffe latte (coffee and milk) or tea along with biscotti (cookies) or pane e marmellata (bread with jam).
Although Italians are somewhat changing their eating habits for lunch and dinner, these meals usually consist of a primo piatto (first entrèe) which is pasta or soup, and a secondo piatto (second entrèe) which consists of a main dish (either meat, fish, cold meats, eggs or cheeses) with a contorno (cooked vegetables) or insalata (salad, fresh vegetables). Fruit is eaten after the meal, and dessert is usually served only on Sundays or special occasions such as birthdays or holidays . After lunch, less frequently after dinner, there might be caffè espresso, the Italian kind that foreigners learn to appreciate over time. Beverages consist of water, often mineral water, still or sparkling, seldom soft drinks, and wine for the grown-ups.
Special diets connected to religious or philosophical principles may be a heavy burden on your family, unless they share the same principles; therefore, avoid being rigid in your position and be grateful when your family partially changes their habits in order to meet your needs at least half way. Some vegetables that make up a vegetarian’s diet may be hard to find as specialized shops are rare (and expensive).
Welcome to Intercultura (AFS Italy) website! Where do you want to go?
- If you want to know more about Intercultura, click here
- If you want to know more about studying in Italy with Intercultura, click here
- Sprechen Sie Deutsch? Hier Klicken
- If you want to visit the full website (Italian only), click here