Is Italy once more open for language study/travel?
There’s much talk of ‘vaccine passports’, travel corridors, and such like.
And many, perhaps most, Italian language schools are already showing on their websites that they are ‘open’.
Nothing seems very certain…
If you live in the UK, for instance, travel abroad is still illegal, except for permitted reasons, which include study at ‘academic institutions’. But how to define an ‘academic institution’? University students, travelling to and from their colleges should be OK, but adult learners taking a two-week Italian course at a private school? You’d be wise to check carefully before booking. Even being present at a British airport without a proven valid reason appears to be a criminal act.
The UK government has mooted lifting the travel restrictions before the start of the summer season in June, and the European Union is keen, too. EU member states that depend on tourism are desperate to limit the economic destruction already suffered. But the UK and the EU are only just about to begin talks on how and when that might happen. And after Brexit, it’s not at all certain that there’ll be a quick agreement.
Many countries are planning ‘covid passports’ of some kind, but a close reading of the news reports suggests that this is everywhere still on the drawing board. Trials are planned in some places. Trials are not yet happening.
I have my first vaccine shot booked for this coming Sunday (I’m not THAT old, but do sadly belong to a risk group because of pre-exisiting health conditions). After which I’ll be able to tell you with more certainty that no, the Italian government hasn’t got its shit together to issue me with a pandemic laissez-passer. I expect it’ll be the same where you are, if you check. Do you know anyone with a covid passport? Thought not.
Of course, the Italian schools here, including my own, are keen to encourage bookings. After all, following a year of almost total closure, other than for courses taught online, we all have to restart somewhere, sometime. There’s rent and salaries to pay (and devil take the hindmost, or the most ethical…)
But if it was me booking a study holiday abroad in the summer of 2021 I’d be taking what I read on school websites with a hefty pinch of salt:
- ‘open’ the schools might be, but are they actually permitted to teach GROUPS of students? For many clients, taking a group course is the whole point of coming to Italy – to make friends, to learn with others from around the world, to have a good time together (before curfew…)
- individual lessons, face-to-face, in the actual school rather than online, ARE allowed under current legislation. Which sort of justifies the ‘open’ claim (no one seems to be admitting to being closed any longer.) But language schools won’t be paying the rent and salaries that way… Private lessons are more expensive for the clients and can be found cheaply and easily online. Also, one student and one teacher in a classroom that could hold 10-15 is no sort of economic model for a business that has city center rents to pay…
- you should please believe that everything in the world is normal once more, despite India, despite the variants, despite quarantining on the way out and on the way home again. Be an optimist! Go ahead and book your summer 2021 language course!! But what if things take a turn for the worse?
- a word to the wise – if you book and pay for a course in, say, June, July, or August 2021, what will happen if the school is not permitted to teach you, in a classroom with other students? Or if there are no other students? Or if you arrive and fail the covid test? Or if one of the other students in your class does? Or if one of the other students in your class admits, over a beer, that they faked their vaccine certificate? Will you get your money back,? Or be allowed a credit for a future course? Or have the option to continue studying online from your hotel or homestay bedroom? And would you be OK with that? It would be good to know, don’t you think? Before parting with your cash.
- Oh, and what about the flights? If your course is cancelled at short notice, could you get your money back from the airline? And vice versa, if the flight doesn’t happen, will you get a credit for the days or weeks of course you miss?
I’d hoped to do a language course myself in the summer of 2020. Turkish in İstanbul was my first choice, and I’d got as far as picking out a school and emailing them for information.
Would I risk it in the summer of 2021? Probably yes, though my circumstances have now changed and I won’t be going anywhere fun for at least a year. We have a new family member who isn’t permitted a passport.
Study travel in the summer of 2021 is for the adventurous, and/or for those who can afford a certain level of risk that everything will go pear-shaped. Travel insurance is sure to be the LAST thing that goes back to ‘normal’.
Come to Italy, by all means, we need you!
We’re ‘open’, and the streets of our cities are looking busier and more normal with each day that passes.
But read the small print before you decide.
Have you listened to Tuesday’s bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news, yet? It’s FREE, thanks to donations from the site’s users, which some months cover our costs but other months don’t… See who helped in April.
Matthew Schuler says
Thanks for your honesty! I have been to your school twice and loved the experience. I hope to attend again in the future. I hope you are still around and thriving when I am ready!
Gerry Smith says
I have read your wise advice although I have no plans to visit anywhere in Europe (or beyond for that matter) this year. However I shall continue my excellent on-line teaching with Sra Benedetta Manocchio and hope to be a much better Italian speaker next year when I hope to do another course at your School.
I am intrigued by your ‘new family member” and will lookout for more news in your regular thrice weekly e.mail.
I do hope the vaccination goes well, whichever one you have. It is unfortunate that the AZ Vaccine has had such a bad press in Europe but I know it is being used in Italy and I know people who have had absolutely no problems with it.
Very best wishes to you and your family.