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Gap Year in Italy/Europe Visa&Living

Travel Forums Europe Gap Year in Italy/Europe Visa&Living

1. Posted by popolina (Budding Member 53 posts) 8y

As an American how can I obtain a 9-10 month visa for Italy/Schengen States? Is my only option to spend a year at a language school and spend thousands of dollars? Could a simply enroll in language classes and do I need to enroll for the duration of my stay in order to obtain the visa? How difficult is it to extend or obtain a visa while in Italy? Knowing the Italian system of bureaucracy I imagine it would be horribly difficult, but it must be possible.

To all of the kids who have spent months traveling through Europe - how did you do it? I know many people who assure me that it is easy to do illegally, such as coming a tourist and simply staying inside the Schengen States, but I don't want to risk being banned from Italy.

Aside from visa issues, at what point is it a better idea to rent a room vs. staying in a hostel? I heard that often times it is possible to stay free at a hostel in exchange for work.

Is there anyone who is planning on taking a gap year/has taken a gap year in Europe and can give me any advice, tips, etc?

Excuse me if these questions come off as ignorant but I'm going at the whole thing alone and feeling very overwhelmed. If anyone could offer their two cents on any of these questions I would really appreciate it!

2. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 8y

A stay of 14 days and on usually makes it worthwhile to investigate short-term rental of a room in a shared flat.

If you want to stay for longer in Italy all you need to do is to apply for a residency permit at the Italian embassy in your home country before you leave. You'll need to prove that you (or your parents) have enough money to support yourself, there are pretty strict rules about it.

You can find all the info you need on

The only country in the EU that I know that allow US-citizens to take up residency without getting the visa beforehand is Germany, so you need to apply in the USA. AFAIK you cannot get the visa in Italy.

The list of what the embassy considers "appropriate funds" is here: They should be less strict when it comes to short term residency, 5000 USD in the bank will probably get you 6 months residency.

You need an "elective residency" or "study: technical and professional instruction beyond..." visa if you do not enroll at an Italian university.

Enrolling at an Italian university might be the best choice, as non-EU students in the Schengen states are usually given a limited work permit (10-20 hours per week). I don't know about Italy, but in Germany being a student would also give you access to the public health and insurance system. Getting the visa is also easier that way. Plus the universities usually offer language classes in Italian for foreign students.

BTW, just in case you are already in Italy and wonder how to go about getting the visa without flying home, I might have some ideas. Feel free to pm me.

[ Edit: Edited on Feb 4, 2008, at 8:17 PM by t_maia ]

3. Posted by bearohony (Inactive 11 posts) 8y

Hi, I have about the same questions a popolina. My boyfriend and I are seriously considering moving abroad (probably Italy) however we don't know how to start? We are both U.S. residents born and raised. Also, my father was born in Germany and was told by many people that I may obtain a German passport as well as hold my American one. Is this true? And, how do I go about getting it. Wouldn't it be easier to move to Europe with a European passport? Anyone that is willing to offer help or advice would be greatly appreciated. Websites that may be beneficial aswell.
Thank you in advance!
~ Josie U.S.

4. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 8y

bearohony, I'm going to send you a private message. This is popolina's thread, I don't want to clutter it with discussions about German citizenship.

5. Posted by popolina (Budding Member 53 posts) 8y

t_maia thank you so much for responding!
How can I find more information about applying to an Italian University? Ideally, I would like to take Italian language/Culture classes and art classes. So then perhaps my best choice would be to apply to an art school? This seems like it would also be more economic than a language school for foreigners though I remember reading various school sights that said that would help with visa arrangements.

My question now is Italian University vs. Italian Language School (such as Leonardo da Vinci in Rome).
Can anyone help me with more information on applying to an Italian University?

Again, I really am thankful to you all.. so glad that I stumbled upon this website.

[ Edit: Edited on Feb 4, 2008, at 9:46 PM by popolina ]

6. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 8y

What you describe sounds like a "study abroad" programme that American universities arrange for their students who study Italian language and literature. Or like a "summer university" program an Italian university might offer of their own accord to foreign students.

If I was you I would go about it the following way: Try to find or make a list of all universities in Italy. Then one by one check their websites or email them about language classes in Italian for foreigners. Do they offer any and if yes, what is the cost (study fees) and what are the requirements to enroll? Don't worry too much about lessons in art and culture. If it is a large university with classes in art and history aimed at Italians it should be easy for you to attend these too, even if you don't understand much. Also you'll be able to learn plenty while you are in Italy just by being there.

Once you've found a uni you like, you should then check cost of living in the city in question and investigate your finances carefully.

I did something similar when I studied Arabic in Nablus, Palestine. I must have spent about 2 months searching online for an entry-level course in Arabic for foreigners at a university in an Arabic-speaking country.

The Italian embassy and the consulates in the USA might have a list of all universities. At the very least they should be able to provide you with basic information about studying abroad in Italy. The Cultural Institutes will also help. Contact them. The embassy's email for inquiries about studying abroad is ufficiostudenti.washington(at)

I also found these links on a German site, it might be what you need (sorry, I don't speak Italian):

[ Edit: Edited on Feb 5, 2008, at 12:32 AM by t_maia ]