Courses at the Kent State Florence and Geneva campuses are taught in English, except for language courses. In addition, both cities are very international and cater to tourists, so you’ll often find English spoken in shops and restaurants, etc.
This means you shouldn’t panic if your plane is about to land, and you speak only English. However, this does NOT mean you shouldn’t try to learn the local language. You should, and you’ll be glad you did.
Being able to have at least a basic conversation in the local language means you get to be more of an insider and less of an outsider. You’ll feel more at home and better understand the culture. You’ll get to know people who aren’t American college students or catering to tourists. And your experience will be much richer. Besides, it’s good for your brain, and it’s good for international relations.
Students in CCI Florence are required to take Italian language while they are in Florence, but many choose to start their study before they go, and those who do say they are glad they did. All course levels are offered in Florence, so if you’re starting fresh, you’ll take Elementary Italian 1. But if you take that in Kent the previous semester, you’ll take Elementary Italian 2 while you’re in Florence. More advanced courses are offered as well, so whatever you’re ready for will be available.
If you’re planning ahead for a semester abroad, think seriously about getting started on the language early. You will be glad you did. If you don’t want to take a course, there are books, software, and websites to help you study independently.
The link below is to a rather bizarre website, but it does link to an amazing number of useful sites about learning Italian, along with some on Italian culture and Italy itself. Just keep scrolling down the endless site and check out links until you find some you like:
Short faculty-led courses don’t normally have a language requirement either, but check with the instructor to be sure.