"A man who has not been in Italy,” Samuel Johnson once said, “is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see.” One of the most beautiful countries in the world also boasts on the most beautiful languages.
Whether you’re planning a holiday, a new career, or a whole new change of scenery, learning Italian has never been easier, or more accessible. Here’s why you should give it a go.
A beautiful language
There’s a very good reason Mozart (an Austrian) composed his operas in Italian. Widely considered by many to be the most beautiful spoken language in the world, Italian is Italy’s ultimate export: romantic, lyrical, embedded in history and art, inextricably intertwined with the country’s culture.
You may find yourself quickly falling in love with the wonderfully expressive and expansive vocabulary. It’s also remarkably easy to pick up, compared with English.
Immerse yourself in the culture
Italy’s back-catalogue of artistic exports, from the renaissance onwards, is astonishingly prolific, a body of work stretching back centuries which few other countries can rival.
Understanding Italian opens you up to an enormous world of poetry, operas, literature, theatre, art, film, and more, enabling a deeper and more full-bodied understanding of the artists’ original intentions.
Useful addition to your CV
Any second language is an invaluable and sought-after boost to anyone’s skillset – it demonstrates resourcefulness, character and worldliness to an employer, not to mention an ability to converse with foreign clients in an increasingly globalised economy.
As one of the major global languages spoken by one of the major global powers – and nearly 100million people around the world – having Italian on your CV will push you above your peers in any job market.
Pretend you’re a local
Like most Europeans, Italians love it when visitors make the effort to learn their language. Blend into daily Italian culture by speaking the same language and you will gain respect and admiration. Handily, Italy is one of the most beautiful places in the world to visit, so you will not need many excuses for return trips.
Lots of options for study
The most efficient and effective way to learn a language is to be taught by fluent, trained professional teachers, and it’s a great deal easier than you might think to take up a course in Italian.
UIC London offer a full range of Italian courses. You can find out more about UIC London courses by visiting their website.
The options available at UIC London cater for every need and level of experience, and their dedicated staff offer Italian courses, and a range of other languages, at their school in the heart of London.
About.com on common misconceptions.
Italy Chronicles gives some helpful advice.
Wikipedia article listing poets in the Italian language.
It’s a tough time to be applying for a job in the UK. Countless suitably qualified candidates vie for every job, each struggling to outdo the other. One way to make a CV stand out among the others is by undertaking a voluntary placement. Here are five reasons why working for free is worth it.
Years of economic gloom have resulted in a highly competitive job market in the UK. There are currently 2.51 million unemployed people, which equates to 7.8% of the available workforce.
While having a degree used to almost guarantee a career, this is no longer the case. There was an average of 52 applications for every graduate position in 2012. This has resulted in the number of new UK graduates working in jobs like cleaning or bar work doubling to 10,000 in five years.
Rather than settling for anything they can find however, increasing numbers of graduates are looking for ways to outshine their competitors. One way to do this is by volunteering.
Many employers like to know that a candidate has some real experience in the relevant working environment and won’t call it quits when the reality of the role becomes apparent. Testing the water with a voluntary placement is the ideal way to see if your idea of a particular job is accurate.
For example, the life of a doctor is portrayed in countless films, TV programmes, and books as being almost constantly exciting and more than a little glamorous. Those who volunteer in a hospital or medical centre quickly observe that the role is far more subtle, and calls into play a range of other skills.
Many volunteers choose to carry out their placements abroad. As well as gaining valuable experience, placements abroad give the volunteer a broader perspective of the world. For example, someone who has carried out social work abroad will have experienced the problems faced by another culture. This gives the volunteer the ability to better identify the problems in their own sphere of influence.
A way in
Networking is invaluable to those seeking employment. Volunteers already working within an organisation are ideally placed to meet people who might be able to help them gain meaningful employment.
Aim to impress from day one and work hard to meet the right people and leave a lasting impression. Countless voluntary placements have turned into jobs after employers realise the value of a particular person.
If no job is currently available, they may recommend the volunteer to others in the industry. At the very least, hard-working volunteers can obtain permission to use their employer as a reference in future applications.
A well-educated candidate with a shining CV can fail during the interview process through lack of anything relevant to talk about. A voluntary experience provides a pool of practical information to draw on and impress interviewers with.
A placement in a different country with an organisation such as Projects Abroad can make for even more interesting anecdotes. Visit their website for more information.
Volunteering demonstrates dedication to a particular career. This is particularly valued by employers in the journalism, fashion and advertising industries. While working for free isn’t ideal, the experience can be worth more in the long run than a low-paid temp job.
Forum discussing the benefits of voluntary work for Cvs.
How volunteering can boost your CV.
The rise of volunteering on the résumé.
2012 was a fantastic year for Great Britain.
Surely the Olympics were the highlight!
Autumn is probably the most romantic season, because of the colours of the outdoors and the evenings spent by the fire or cuddled under a blanket. If you are looking to do something special with your partner, organise a canal boat trip in November. What can be more romantic than gliding in the water along quiet banks covered in red and yellow leaves? The whole time, you will be on your own boat and spend some cosy time just the two of you.
Quality time together
There are many canals in Britain and probably one not far from where you live. A week-end or a few days on a boat are a unique experience to share with the one you love. Not only it is more romantic than staying in a hotel, but you can also visit a different town at each stop. Driving a narrow boat is very easy and they are more comfortable than you might think.
You will experience total freedom with the possibility to stop whenever you want, either to go for a walk on the banks or just have lunch on your boat. In the evening you will be away from the city centres and surrounded by wildlife. This is the perfect week-end for those who need a bit of peace and quiet and want to spend some quality time together.
It is also a great idea for holidays abroad, such as in Burgundy, France.
The British are famous for traditions and culture, but many are borrowed from overseas. This article looks at five British things that are really French, from old school obscure to more modern and obvious. These include singing carols, celebrating with Champagne and eating French inspired food.
Singing carols at Christmas
Singing carols at Christmas is a mainstay of the festivities in Britain, from carol singers at the door to hearing the songs coming from your local church. The carols are very much part of a British Christmas but in some circles it is thought that they came to England from France. It’s believed that carols were originally accompanied by dance and were brought over in the Middle Ages.
Celebrating with Champagne
This is an obvious one! We’ve all been to a wedding, birthday party or other celebration when the Champagne is flowing. It’s long been a part of special occasions to crack open the Champagne when we’re celebrating, but this is very much a French tradition that has become part of British culture.
The British language
The British language is known and revered the world over but strictly speaking we can’t claim it to be our own entire making. The French have had a huge influence on the words we use, with over 10,000 words coming from France to England during the Normandy invasion. It is thought that we still use around three quarters of these words in modern day English. We also owe a lot to the French for our sentence construction and the way we pronounce words.
The food of love
The French have had a huge influence on British cooking and many of the most popular UK dishes are from France. Staple dishes like the casserole, omelette and even bread and cheese are all rooted in French culture. Top British chefs more often than not have classic French cookery training too, so we owe a lot to the French for our thriving restaurant culture as well.
The way we greet each other is definitely changing. We seem to be phasing out the handshake and hug in favour of the double kiss. Kissing someone on both cheeks has been a French salutation for hundreds of years and is fast becoming one of the most common greetings in the UK.
Tips for French ex pats
There are plenty of French influences in British culture to make ex pats feel at home and there are also many tips to make that transition even easier. One of the main pieces of advice would be to get a good grasp of the language so that you can fully integrate. Another one would be to embrace British culture so that you get the full experience.
Having said that, it’s important to keep in touch with friends and family back home in France. A good way of contacting them is to use VoIP communication systems. Systems like this make it easy for you to make cheap calls to France so you can always keep in touch with your loved ones.
International VoIP phone service.
The BBC’s guide to French cooking.
The Guardian’s guide to all things French.