About the Program:
To the Gonzaga-in-Florence student, Italy is much more than a boot-shaped peninsula in the Mediterranean; it is an opportunity of a lifetime. In 1963, Gonzaga University, a Jesuit institution located in Spokane, Washington, developed a program in Florence, Italy, which was designed to immerse students in both Italian and European life and culture.
Gonzaga chose Florence because the city is central to the past of Italy and to European civilization itself. Capital of the region of Tuscany, Florence inherits the culture of the Etruscans, the mysterious forgotten people who were heirs to the glory of Greece long before there was a Rome. The city was founded by Roman veterans returning from the wars. More than any other city in Italy, Florence was the stalwart defender of civic liberty during the Renaissance. Her intensely loyal citizenry produced the people and ideas that served as models for a Europe in transition from the medieval to the modern. Florentine museums are brimming with paintings that transformed European taste in the fifteenth century. Her streets are lined with buildings that initiated modern architecture. And yet, the city is more than a museum piece. It is intensely alive - a center of modern art, fashion, and refinement.
Florence is also central to Italy’s present. It is three hours by train to the region of Lombardy, the humming center of Italy’s economic miracle, and a stepping-off place for the ski slopes and lakes of the Alps. It is three hours to Venice, a city to which no photograph can do justice. It is two hours to Rome, capital of Italy and of the Church, where ancient, medieval and modern culture mingle on every street. Florence is four hours from Naples, Pompeii, and Mount Vesuvius, the southern region no traveler would want to miss.
In Florence, Italy’s center, Gonzaga maintains a campus offering a core of historical and cultural studies, rich and varied in content, but unified by the experience of Italy, past and present. We offer courses in liberal arts, business, engineering and education.
The Mozilo Center: The Gonzaga-in-Florence Campus is located in the center of Florence, not far from the Duomo, and looks onto the Giardino dei Semplici, a sixteenth century garden created by the Medici family. It is a few steps from Fra Angelico’s frescoes painted for the San Marco monastery and minutes from Michelangelo’s David in the Galleria dell’Academia.
As private liberal arts college providing a Catholic liberal arts education, Gonzaga University is dedicated to the Jesuit, Catholic, humanistic ideals of educating the mind, body, and spirit to create men and women for others. Gonzaga constantly ranks as one of the best undergraduate universities in the United States, and Gonzaga-in-Florence holds itself to the same standards. With a top 25 ranking undergraduate engineering program in the United States, Gonzaga-in-Florence offers the only engineering program that is taught in English in Florence.
Gonzaga-in-Florence’s campus is equipped with wireless Internet and desktop computers. In addition, the center’s Martin Library collection contains over ten thousand volumes. For research, students have access to Gonzaga University’s Foley Library on the main Spokane campus through GIF’s campus computers. A student lounge and small fitness room are also located on the lower level.
The Gonzaga-in-Florence campus is home to a full-time Student Life staff. Throughout the semester and full year, the staff coordinates a broad range of programs and provides an array of services to ensure that each student’s experience in Florence is safe, successful, and full of rich opportunities. Options for engagement in outside-the-classroom learning include cooking classes, community service programs, Toastmasters, English-for-Pasta, entry in Italian athletic tournaments, yoga classes, internships, resume-development classes, Forza (GIF’s leadership and ambassador group), and much more. You can attend the opera, have dinner with an Italian family in exchange for teaching their children English, or explore intriguing destinations on sponsored weekend trips. The Student Life staff also assists students experiencing culture shock, homesickness, medical issues, or emergencies.
Course and Schedules:
Gonzaga-in-Florence offers several academic tracks to help students stay synchronized with core and major requirements while studying abroad. Course List
With the exception of students pursuing the Engineering Track, all students attending for the year must complete Italian 101 and 102. Students attending one semester must complete Italian 101. This requirement may be fulfilled prior to or during your time abroad. Students who are studying in the summer have no language requirement.
A core of courses designed to meet certification curriculum requirements are offered in the spring semester by faculty with teacher education training and experience. This study abroad program provides students the opportunity to gain awareness and insight into global issues that will enhance their teaching as a result.
Academic / School of Education Advisors Teacher Education candidates are encouraged to begin discussions with their academic / School of Education advisors about GIF courses early in their academic career to help clarify how they relate to graduation requirements. Academic advisors are an important resource in exploring how study abroad fits into a student’s academic plan. GU students may also consult with the Office of Academic Advising and Assistance. Teacher Education Courses Teacher Education candidates should take all nine (9) credits of TE courses offered
Housing and Meals:
Previous students have stated that the homestay option provides the most immersive experience and that if students are really looking to immerse themselves in Italy and want to truly learn Italian and the culture of Italy they should apply for the homestay option.
Living with a family while in Florence is the best way of having an authentic Italian experience; you truly get the best of both worlds. When living in a homestay you aren’t disconnected from the rest of the Gonzaga-in-Florence community as most think. Rather, you have a perfect balance of spending time with friends in the program as well as becoming a member of a real Florentine family. This experience really allowed me to immerse myself into the Italian culture in a way that would not be possible without. At the end of the day, I wasn’t coming back to my dorm room; I was coming back to my family who cared about how my day went. Although solely Italian was spoken in my homestay, there are other amazing families who speak both English and Italian. Many people, who had no Italian under their belts, chose the homestay option and just like me, became members of their Italian family and loved every moment of it. I would strongly encourage more people to consider doing homestay, if not for the year, at least for a semester. Not only will you eat the best Italian home cooked food you’ve ever had, you’ll also learn many real life culture values that can only be learned by living under an Italian roof. It will be the most rewarding experience of your European adventure! - Shane E. Wing, GIF Alumna 2012-13
While studying in Florence, most year and semester students live in Italian boarding hotels (pensioni) located close to the school which is in the heart of Florence. The pensioni are run by Italian staff that provides food, safe living conditions, and support. The living arrangements are conducive to learning the language and to better understanding the Italian culture. The pensioni are carefully screened and most have hosted GIF students for many years.
Students can choose their own roommate(s). Each pensione generally accommodates anywhere from twelve to thirty students. All of the pensioni are co-ed, although the rooms (double, triple, and quad) are gender specific. For the semester or year students, the weekly meal plan which is included in the cost of the program, consists of seven breakfasts, four midday meals, and three dinners.
A unique experience to Florence is the volunteer opportunity which can include the opportunity to give tours of local churchs. Students can give a tour of a church one day a week for a couple of hours and they will be given a badge that gets them into all the Florentine churches for free. Students are able to see world class art and architectural pieces ranging from the tomb of Michelangelo to frescoes by Giotto, all the while meeting English speakers from all around the world (for most English is their second language).
Other opportunities are available.
· Volunteer at Casa Famiglia (a halfway house) and work directly with children in need.
· Serve in a local soup kitchen close to the GIF campus.
· Assist in English classes in an Italian public elementary school.
Students interested in non-credit internship experiences can work with the Student Life staff to find a placement in a local business or nonprofit organization.
Visa and Passport:
All students must have a passport that is valid for three months after the end of their study abroad program. An Italian student visa is a stamp in your passport that allows you to study in Italy for over 90 days. Students who are US citizens studying in Italy for a semester or a year must have an Italian student visa. Summer students do not need a visa. Students will be required to appear in person at an Italian Consulate or vice consulate to apply for their visa.