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My infatuation with the city of Venice could be considered the longest love affair of my life.

It began when I was just a teenager; I arrived by train during my high school student exchange year (afs.org), not knowing much about what to expect. But Venice always lives up to expectation if you allow yourself the time to explore it. After all, it’s been "the" unforgettable city for centuries.

As Venice residents themselves will tell you, knowing this city and all of its treasures might take a lifetime. "La Serenissima" never ceases to surprise, offering unexpected treasures at every corner.

Entering a non-assuming, almost hidden church like the Chiesa San Sebastiano (which was practically attached to the university’s summer language session building) may reveal art masterpieces that many museums would envy. But living and studying among Italian and Venetian residents certainly helps.

And, fortunately, there are many ways to establish short-term residence in this unique city. One of them is to enroll in an Italian language or cooking class, which equips you with extra skills to complement the experience of living abroad. There are many schools and institutes to choose from, each offering a variety of short- and longer-term courses. They can also help with accommodations if you so desire.

This summer I had the opportunity to spend three weeks living like a local in Venice. Venetians took me on an evening tour of Venetian bars, uncovering hidden gems frequented primarily by locals.

And had it not been for a Venetian, I probably would have missed out on the islands of Burano and Torcello, because having visited Murano while staying on La Giudecca (at the boisterous Ostello Venezia during my first visit), I assumed that I’d been to the other major islands as well. What an inexcusable mistake.

Burano was a cheerful explosion of color, and the rows of seemingly dancing houses automatically made you smile. Torcello was a sober, classic brick-and-marble historical treasure and a trip back in time (even in timeless Venice) that inspired awe and contemplation. This was our lunch spot, where a typically Italian orgy of food lasted over 2 hours.

On the trip back, I spent a few seconds at the captain's seat piloting the vaporetto. A quick stop back in Burano provided a warm, friendly chat with the owner of Riva Rosa, an elegant yet cozy restaurant with an amazing roof terrace.

Study opportunities in Venice:

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