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Emma & Adam: 5 week Standard Course

Friends, Emma  (22) and Adam  (22) spent 5 weeks on a Standard course in Viareggio from July to September with CESA, hear what they both thought of their time in Viareggio:

EMMA:

“I expected to learn quite a bit of Italian whilst having a really good time! I expected it to be quite hard work but enjoyable and satisfying. I expected the quality of teaching to be high and for the teachers to be friendly and helpful. I thought that there would be a lot of social events and things to do. My expectations were definitely met. I feel that my Italian improved a great deal, I started at beginner level and I progressed very quickly. The teachers were friendly and helpful as I expected and there was plenty to do outside of lessons.

The lessons were good and I liked the way they were split into two lessons: grammar and conversation. I enjoyed conversation most because we got to learn about the other students in our class, this was very interesting as the students were from different countries all over the world.

I felt comfortable there and the staff and teachers were always very helpful and tried hard to answer our questions. The school was very well situated as it was close to our apartment, the beach, the park and the shops.

The lessons were taught entirely in Italian. Although I understand that this is an effective method of learning the language it was sometimes difficult and confusing when trying to understand things. For example the meaning of a word or a grammar rule. The upside of this was that the class had to talk and communicate with each other, i.e. explaining things to each other. The best part of the course was getting to meet lots of people and also the sense of satisfaction that I got from learning the language.

In general I was very happy with the course and I think there was a good balance between lessons and free time. The social activities that the school arranged were good. I particularly liked the weekly spaghetti parties on the beach as the food was absolutely delicious!

Viareggio was a great place to be. I felt safe there and the locals were friendly. It was reasonably cheap to eat out; however, to go to a nightclub was expensive. Some places charged 10 euros a drink!

There was plenty to do during the day, most afternoons we went to the beach! At weekends we went on trips to Pisa and Lago Puccini for example. One weekend we went to Cinque Terre, which was absolutely beautiful. I would defiantly recommend everyone to go there (the school provides lots of info on trips such as this). We also discovered a great restaurant called ‘Angelli’, near our apartment which served delicious food and was really good value for money.

I stayed in an apartment with other students. The apartment was really well situated, only 10 minutes walk from the school and bars, shops, restaurants etc. It was a good experience to live with other students from other countries (USA, Croatia, Switzerland), and I made some good friends.

The staff at CESA were very friendly, helpful and easy to talk to. They seemed fairly knowledgeable about Viareggio, e.g. distance to/from Pisa airport and approximate taxi costs.

I did not want to come home from Viareggio, and I would definitely go again! It was a fantastic experience; I had a great time as well as learning a lot. The classes were enjoyable and there was plenty to do in our spare time. I would recommend staying in a Shared apartment as you get to know other students and can be more independent.

ADAM:

The method of the teaching was effective and the way the lessons were set out in that there were separate grammar and conversation classes helped us focus. Teaching quality and interaction varied between teachers, but was very good. The school had a reasonable building, was well situated and had very pleasant and helpful teachers and administrative staff. The only thing that I would have changed was getting up early. While the beginning of the lessons were not overly early, as it was too a holiday for me an extra half hour in bed in the morning possibly coupled with revised lesson times as suggested above would allow for a more relaxed start to the day. Further to this a lie in after the legendary spaghetti party, or moving the party to a Saturday would also be helpful! All else would be left as it is! There was a great mix of different students, the social activities were good, and the travel arrangements were fine. Excursions were plentiful and varied but my standard of Italian was not sufficient to appreciate the guided tours.

It is a great destination for the course due to its location relative to places of interest in northern Italy, the choice of great places to eat out cheaply and the nice beach and sea, enjoyment of this helped by the school having a cheap deal with one of the beach proprietors.

The nightlife was different but good! While there were many restaurants, there was a lack of simple bars just to drink in. While there were no actual nightclubs, some of the beach complexes opened as clubs with outdoor areas which really were great with plenty of good music and very strong drinks! The only problems were high entry costs on the ‘wrong’ nights (up to 25 euros), expensive drinks (up to 10 euros) and sometimes a ‘card system’ for entry and drinks whereby you get a card on entry, have it stamped at the bar and pay on leaving. You can see the potential problems!

Considering places of interest, one stands above the rest and is a ‘must see and do’ for the shortest of visits! It is an area known as ‘Cinque Terra’ (Google it!) and has something for everyone. The nicest part of this area for me was Vemazza, with beautiful scenery and crystal clear waters. It takes an hour and a half on the very cheap and efficient train network.

I found CESA very helpful and efficient. Thank you!

I would certainly like do this again, be that to Viareggio, another school in Italy, or another language course in another country! It was great to meet so many different but like-minded people and to have the chance to explore a beautiful region! “