There are very exciting and enjoyable times ahead for you if you chose to come to Italy for an Exchange Students Program (3 months, Semester or a School Year). That period of your life will help to grow up and make incredible experiencesby getting used to a new family, a new school and a new country.

By the time, you reach the end of your program, we hope that you will feel partly Italian and that you will look back at your time in this country with pleasure.

Of course, there will be some challenges and frustrations while you get used to the “Italian way,” but we will do our best to help and support you during this transition.

Therefore, during your Exchange Students Program you will have support from your Local Coordinator every step of the way. They are your mentor and are available to talk about anything

General info


  • An arrival orientation covering program issues, cultural introduction to life in Italy, living in a host family, culture shock and rules of the program. The orientation will be held within the first 2 or 3 weeks of arrival in the host community.
  • Those students arriving outside official arrival weekends may miss this orientation and have a one-on-one private orientation with AFSAI LC.
  • Full board and lodging with a host family for the duration of the official program dates. All families will be interviewed and selected on the basis of their interest in educational exchange and their ability to provide a positive home environment. Host families in Italy are volunteers.
  • Enrollment in a local Upper Secondary School – not necessarily the one that the children, if any, from the host family attend.
  • Return transfer from the indicated airport of arrival/departure (within hospitable hours)
  • Support and counseling services by the AFSAI LC.
  • 24 hour emergency telephone support from the AFSAI office in Rome.



Academic Year Program: From September to June

Academic Semester Program: From September to January / From February to June

Academic Trimester Program: From September



AFSAI currently assigns nationwide placement in Italy. No guarantees can be given that specific location requests will be met. Most of our host families live in small towns. Applicants must accept the possibility that they will not be placed in an urban location. Host families in Italy are volunteers.


Exchange Students enter the Italian Upper Secondary School (Scuola Secondaria di Secondo Grado) at the age of 14 and it lasts five years. A typical Italian student is 19 when he or she enters university, while in the other countries 18 is the more common age.

Students participating in AFSAI Exchange Students Program at the upper Secondary School Program will join a 2nd, 3rd or 4th Year as a general rule. Schools do not accept placement of exchange students in 5th year. The School reserves the right to finally decide which year each participant should join and to make any changes depending on the progress the student makes during the course of the year.

The secondary school situation varies, since there are several types of schools differentiated by subjects and activities. The main division is between the Liceo, the Istituto Tecnico and the Istituto Professionale. Any kind of secondary school that lasts 5 years grants access to the final exam, called Esame di Maturità. This exam takes place every year between June and July and grants access to University.


A school day normally starts at 8 am and finishes at 01.30 pm and includes a 15 minutes’ break. Each class normally lasts 50 minutes. Many schools have classes on Saturday. Physical education classes are part of the school curriculum and it is generally compulsory for students to participate.


All classes have homework, this must be completed and turned in on time. Most students should study 1-2 hours or more each afternoon.


Seldom schools organize a program of sporting, social or cultural activities during/after school periods. These are generally free of charge.
We encourage foreign students to participate fully in the program of extracurricular activities as it is the best way to integrate into the school community and stay active.


All the schools participating in this program are Public Schools managed by local Education Authorities. Each school has its own code of discipline and its own policy on students’ appearance.  Exchange Students are expected to respect and adhere to this code of discipline and policy.


Below are a few hints, travel tips and Italian culture tips to ensure you have a glorious and glam stay in Italy:

  • Try to speak the language! The Italians will be impressed that you’re giving it a go but will often reply to you in English, giving them a chance to practice what they’ve learned.
  • Some Italians still take a siesta during the day from 2-4 pm. It is somewhat of a past tradition but some of the shops still close and it’s best not to call on an Italian, just in case they’re having a nap!
  • Find out the price of dishes before ordering in a restaurant – ingredients like fresh porcini mushrooms can be very expensive!
  • The famous Italian two-cheek kiss also has a couple of rules to be aware of – it is usually done between friends and families and is planted high on the cheek. More of an air kiss (with the kissing noise) you should go for the right cheek first, then the left. Guys, it’s perfectly acceptable for male friends and family to embrace each other as well.
  • Italians usually dress very formally, considering skimpy tops, flip flops and sandals for the beach or swimming pool only; not for the street or in restaurants and shops. They’re also very careful not to wear jeans to a theatre or nice restaurant.
  • Make sure you dress appropriately when visiting a church in Italy. Keep the shoulders, knees and midriff covered. One place you’re sure to get the once-over is St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, so don’t even try to get in wearing shorts or a showing too much skin round the chest and stomach regions. Another tip for museums as well as churches is to turn off your mobile phone, don’t eat, and use your quiet inside voice.

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