Reflecting on recent literature on digital literacies, I consider the use of the virtual world Second Life in distance education. To do so, I draw on theories of learning that accommodate elements of instability and uncertainty. Tacit learning is the process of acquiring knowledge from interaction and experience, or mess and play growing out of interactive and networked processes, as opposed to understanding teaching as passing knowledge down. I explore these points through a case study, Isola del Giglio, which is a learning site built in Second Life as part of a double degree in international studies at the University of Technology, Sydney. In the article, I describe the students' learning experiences during their exchange year in Italy and the in‐world learning experience in Second Life.