Approx. Time Difference
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Welcome to your program!
This guide was created to help you navigate the different aspects of travelling abroad as a UCEAP student. All important aspects of attending university in your host country are addressed here, including academic information, extension of UCEAP participation, cultural awareness, orientation, transportation, finances and much more.
Remember to also visit the Participants
section of the UCEAP website for important information and deadlines.
Click a heading below to see section content.
Your UCEAP Network
Local UCEAP support, UCEAP online & Study Center abroad
Bookmark your Participants
program page; it contains vital resources and requirements you need to know before you go abroad, including the Predeparture Checklist, UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
, Program Calendar, UCEAP Student Budgets and Payment Vouchers, and Policies.
Local UCEAP Support
Campus EAP Office
The Campus EAP Office coordinates recruitment, student selection, orientations, and academic advising; and serves as your primary contact during the application process.
UCEAP Systemwide Office
The UCEAP Systemwide Office establishes and operates programs and coordinates UCEAP administration for all UC campuses from its headquarters in Goleta, California. You will work closely with the following Systemwide Office staff:
Program Advisors provide academic and operational program information to you and your campus as well as administrative support for all aspects of your participation.
Operations Specialists manage the logistics of the program. They coordinate document requirements, visa application instructions, health and safety precautions, acceptance and placement by host institutions, arrival and on-site orientation, and housing arrangements.
Academic Specialists advise on academic policies, review courses taken abroad for UC credit, and document your registration, grades, petitions and academic records.
Student Finance Accountants assist primarily with UCEAP statements, program fee collection, and financial aid disbursements (in conjunction with your campus Financial Aid Office).
Student Finance Accountant
UCEAP Systemwide Office
6950 Hollister Avenue, Suite 200
Goleta, CA 93117-5823
Phone: (805) 893-4762; Fax: (805) 893-2583
Study Centers Abroad
The academic programs in Madrid and Rome are overseen by local personnel in consultation with the UCEAP Systemwide Office and a UC faculty advisory committee. Student services and activities are provided by ACCENT (International Consortium for Academic Programs Abroad) in collaboration with UCEAP.
ACCENT/UC Center Madrid
C/Miguel Angel, 6 bajo 9
28010 Madrid, Spain
Phone (calling from the U.S.): (011 34) 91 308 59 79
Phone (calling from Spain): 91 308 59 79
Fax (from the U.S.): (011 34) 91 308-6348
ACCENT/UC Rome Study Center
piazza dell’Orologio, 7
00186 Rome, Italy
Phone (calling from the U.S.): (011 39) 06 97 99 86 73
Phone (calling from Italy): 06 97 99 86 73
Fax (from the U.S.): (011 39) 06 97 99 86 82
Phone Number Codes
U.S. international code: 011 (dial this to call from the U.S.)
Italy country code: 39
Rome city code: 06
Spain country code: 34
Madrid city code: 91
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University-specific academic information, internships &
This program will introduce you to the social and political changes that have transformed Spain and Italy in recent decades while examining the current challenges facing both countries as a result of the fiscal crisis in Europe. The 10-week quarter program will be divided into two modules and you will spend five weeks per module in each city. If you are on the semester program you will take the same courses as students in the quarter program with the addition of an internship course and an internship that will start during your second module and end in late July.
Your program courses will be taught by local instructors and coursework will be supplemented as appropriate by visits to social, government, and non-government organizations, schools, neighborhoods, museums, and media production centers.
After being accepted to the program, and once the courses for the term have been confirmed, the Study Center will e-mail you instructions on course selection. This will be approximately 4–5 weeks prior to the start of the program. An initial e-mail will provide you with a link to course offerings for your term and the calendar of classes. A second e-mail will give you a password to pre-enroll in classes. Bear in mind that enrollment in all courses is capped and thus it is important to respond immediately to the second pre-enrollment e-mail, as class placement takes place primarily on a first-come, first-served basis, though other factors are also considered. Students will be provided with a space to express any particular enrollment needs that should be factored into consideration.
You will register for your internship upon being accepted into the program. Pre-placement interviews via e-mail and Skype will occur in January and your placement will be confirmed in mid-February.
If you are on the quarter program you will enroll in three courses each worth 5 UC quarter units (3.3 semester units) for a total of 15 UC quarter units (10 semester units). In your second city you also have the option of participating in a directed study worth 2 UC quarter units (1.3 semester units) to work on a particular reading or research project related to your courses. You will be given a list of approved topics for the directed study and will sign up when you are on-site in your first city. The due dates for milestones in the development of the project, course objectives, and evaluation and grading criteria will be available at the beginning of the quarter. You will meet once per week with the faculty supervisor.
If you are on the semester program you will enroll in three courses and complete a 10-week internship worth 5-6 UC quarter units (3.3-4 semester units) for a total of 20-21 UC quarter units (13.3-14 semester units). Your internship units also include a course on the Italian or Spanish workforce. Depending on your internship placement, you will work between 78 and 104 hours at your internship.
All courses are taught in English and will extend across both locations.
Courses may apply toward GE/breadth, major, or minor requirements with the approval of individual UC departments and colleges. The Study Center does not determine the applicability of its courses to your particular set of major, minor, or general education requirements; this is determined by your UC campus.
All core courses are upper division. The coursework is rigorous; be prepared for an academically challenging term. All courses may involve writing research papers in English as well as regularly scheduled quizzes and final exams and other assignments, e.g., response papers, analytical essays, oral presentations, etc.
Classes are held Monday through Thursday with some required activities on weekends. There may be some make-up classes scheduled on Fridays due to local national holidays. You are required to attend these make-up sessions. Do not make weekend travel plans until after you arrive and learn what classes you will be taking.
Occasionally, site visits are scheduled for Fridays, sometimes even on weekends.
The following courses will be offered on this program:
Contemporary Spanish and Italian History through Film
Professor Simon Martin and Professor Mara López Beriso
Spanish and Italian cinema provide an excellent route for understanding social and political change throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. As the most important artistic medium of modernity, cinema allows one to construct and deconstruct many myths and identities. This course analyzes the most relevant Spanish and Italian film productions both as artistic works (form) and as socio-historical documents (content) that will reveal political, social, economic, and cultural change in 20th-century Spain and Italy. Topics in Spain may include the Republic and the Civil War (Fernán Gómez and Buñuel), the 1960s comic criticism of dictatorship (García Berlanga) and censorship (Lazaga), the transition to democracy (Garci and Almodóvar), and the new 1990s cinema (Amenábar, de la Iglesia, Medem, Coixet and Bollaín). Topics in Italy may include the Fascist regime (Bertolucci); the Second World War (Rossellini); the 1950s reconstruction and neo-realism (De Sica), the economic miracle (Visconti & Steno), the terror of the 1970s (Petri), the Berlusconi Years (Moretti), and organized crime (Garrone).
From Dictatorship to Democracy: Social Revolutions in Italy and Spain
Professor Anne Wingenter and Professor Jon Snyder
Italy and Spain have experienced crucial transformations over recent decades with regard to women’s rights, family, gender roles, education, freedom of expression, religion, and migration. This course will provide a theoretical overview of social revolutions. In Italy, students will analyze Fascism’s social and cultural policies in order to understand the transition to democracy post-World War II, the cultural revolution of the 1970s, and the problematic quest for a multicultural identity in today’s Italy. In Spain, students will examine the influence of Franco’s dictatorship and the transition to democracy as well as contemporary Spanish conceptions of politics, culture, gender, and sexuality.
Wherever possible, students will engage first-hand with the Italian and Spanish cultures and people. They will conduct interviews with the multicultural populations in Madrid and Rome in order to gain a more insightful perception of the feelings and beliefs on these topics today. In addition, visits to representative monuments and institutions related to these topics will be integrated into the course.
The Changing Face of the Mediterranean: Migration in Southern Europe
Professor Lorenzo Rinelli and Professor Justin Byrne
This course adopts an interdisciplinary approach to examine the phenomenon of migration in the Mediterranean. Students will look at immigration and multiculturalism at the nation state level in Italy and Spain and also consider the transformation in each country from being an emigrant to an immigrant society. The course will begin with a look at citizenship law and immigration policy in each country and then move on to examine the ways that immigration is influencing definitions of nationality and “European-ness.” Italy and Spain have very different colonial pasts and exploring these differences can help us understand some of the distinctions in the way immigrants are viewed and treated in each country. The course will also consider the complex role of the Catholic Church in both advocating for the rights of immigrants while monitoring the growing fear in Europe of its embattled Christian identity.
Globalization and Crisis in Spain and Italy
Professor Lorenzo Rinelli and Professor Francisco Seijo
Only recently considered among the most dynamic economies on the continent, Spain and Italy’s economic health and social well-being are now being challenged by the fiscal and political crisis spreading throughout Europe. This course will examine the changes accelerated by entry into the European Union, the factors that brought about the crisis, and compare and contrast current responses in each country. Topics will include changes in the labor markets, the impact of a rapidly aging population, the effects of increasing globalization and EU integration, social tensions resulting from the austerity measures, and the impact on political systems in each country.
If you are on the semester with internship program you will take three of the courses listed above in addition to:
A Comparative Approach to the Spanish/Italian Workforce course
This course will first provide you with a general overview of the main economic sectors in Spain and Italy, so that you acquire a basic knowledge of the evolution of their economies, the contributions of the main national industries and companies, and the various challenges that these countries have been facing in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Specific seminars will guide you through your internship experience in your assigned company, as well as helpi you develop the skills necessary to become better integrated into the Spanish and Italian work environments. Seminars will discuss topics such as the current political and economic climate, the national legal frameworks, the structure and workflow of local companies, the integration of women and immigrants into the workforce, and the differences between the job experience in the U.S. and in Spain or Italy, among others.
Examples of internship placements in Madrid include: Bloom Consulting, Colegio Chamberí, OH Design, and IS Creative Studio. Internships in Rome may be with the following organizations: Rome Reports, Alliance of Democrats, Context Travel, Parla Food, and Sony Italia.
As in similar UCEAP programs designed by UC faculty, there is a class attendance policy for this program. The policy is endorsed by the UC faculty committee responsible for academic oversight of the program.
The UCEAP class attendance policy is as follows:
The class register is the official record of student attendance. It is your responsibility to sign the attendance register personally at the beginning of class with your full name (no initials). It is forbidden to sign in for anyone else or alter the register in any way.
If you miss any portion of a class, you may be marked as absent upon the faculty member’s discretion.
You are allowed two absences per class for the entire program. Any absence beyond the limit will result in a 3 percent deduction of points from your final raw total.
No make-ups for missed work: if you are absent for medical reasons during an assessment (quiz, oral exam, test, etc.), you must submit a local doctor’s note to the front desk. Upon submission of a doctor’s note, you would receive an average of similar forms of assessment.
Be aware that last minute changes may arise in the class schedules due to unforeseen circumstances
For information about grades, see the Academic Information
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
Extending UCEAP Participation
Extension information, forms & deadlines
Planning for Back-to-Back Programs
It is sometimes possible to participate in two different UCEAP options consecutively. For example, after the European Transformations quarter program, you might choose to stay in Italy or Spain to learn the language of that country by participating in one of the summer Language and Culture programs.
Participation in back-to-back programs requires an exceptional level of organization and maturity. You must be able to plan in advance and prepare for the second program while completing the first. Decide early if you would like to participate in a second program in order to complete necessary requirements while still at your UC campus.
To participate in a program immediately following the European Transformations quarter program, you must notify your Campus EAP Advisor of your intentions and submit a separate application by the campus deadline and go through the regular UCEAP selection process for each program. Your Campus EAP Office will have more information about the application process.
If you are planning to participate in these two consecutive programs:
- You must discuss your plans with your Campus EAP Advisor as early as possible so that arrangements can be made.
- You will need a visa! Anticipate your visa requirements; contact the UCEAP Systemwide Office to let them know your plans and ask for visa information.
- Submit all required predeparture materials for both programs to UCEAP before going abroad.
- Contact your campus financial aid officer and the UCEAP Student Finance Accountant before going abroad to ensure that your finances are in order for both programs.
The ACCENT website
also has useful background information about the Rome and Madrid Centers, and the ACCENT blogs for Rome
and ACCENT's Rome
Facebook pages provide up-to-date information on things to do and see, including links to local events, stores, and services.
Read about the Spanish and Italian lifestyles so you will have an idea about what to expect. Keep up with current events by reading articles in newspapers, magazines, and journals that have information about Spain and Italy.
It is a very exciting time to travel to Europe and, if you are prepared, you will find this time even more rewarding.
UCEAP Students Say…
“I was embarrassed for my fellow UC students who arrived not knowing anything about Europe. Read a lot and learn all you can about Rome and Madrid before you depart!”
“You’ll find that Europeans may know more about the States than you do. Don’t forget to brush up on your U.S. current events as well as Europe's.”
Local View of Alcohol
As in many countries, alcohol and other drugs are a part of the local youth culture, but typically there is no pressure to partake. Moderate drinking as a part of meals and social occasions is traditional in Spanish and Italian cultures from a very young age; on the other hand, “binge” drinking at parties or drinking in order to get drunk tends to be much less common among Spanish and Italian university students than can be the case on U.S. college campuses. Overuse or abuse of alcohol may bring unwelcome attention and difficulties; getting drunk is not considered acceptable behavior in Spain or Italy.
Use of illicit drugs is a crime and can result in serious penalties. Student abuse of alcohol or use of illicit drugs is against UC and UCEAP policies and will not be tolerated.
Some students have reported encountering behaviors that would be labeled as sexist, racist, or discriminatory in the U.S.
UC students of African-American, Asian-Pacific Islander, Latin, and Middle Eastern backgrounds in particular may frequently find themselves the objects of stares and comments, ranging from relatively innocent to occasionally hostile.
Graffiti, including anti-Semitic, anti-Islamic, and generally anti-immigrant messages, is not unusual.
Female students on UCEAP have indicated that they were stared at, approached, and harassed by men more openly and more frequently in Spain and Italy than at home. Past students have characterized these behaviors as annoying, frustrating, and initially shocking, but generally no more than that. Some have commented that there is no “political correctness” in Spain or Italy. However, do not give in to behaviors that invade your personal boundaries and that feel uncomfortable or unsafe to you. If a situation feels inappropriate or makes you uneasy, get yourself out of the situation. Never sacrifice your sense of safety to avoid offending the locals.
It is important that you do not allow such behavior to prevent you from going abroad. Try physically moving away from the source of offensive behavior, as responding may simply escalate the situation. Seek help from program staff and fellow students if you experience such behavior, especially if it becomes out of control or causes you increased anxiety and anger. Female returnees indicate that harassment can occur no matter what the circumstances; however, they recommend adapting your dress, comments, and actions to blend more closely to local norms. Talking to local women and observing them in their daily activities can help to accomplish this.
In most cases these incidents represent a cultural difference that causes annoyance and frustration for UC students, rather than a source of physical danger.
Arrival & Orientation
Travel documents, packing tips, travel to and from
your host country
UCEAP Students Say…
“Women, leave your heels at home! Cobblestone streets make low, comfortable shoes a must.”
“Be sure to take a shawl for going into churches when the weather is warm.”
Arrival & Orientation
Additional information about passports, visas, and other required documents is provided in the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad and UCEAP Predeparture Checklist.
You need a passport at the time of application for your program. If you do not already have a passport, you must apply for one immediately, and you may need to expedite it. The process can take approximately four to eight weeks. Passports must be valid for at least three months beyond the end date of the program. If the passport will expire before that time, you will need to obtain a new one before you can apply for a student visa.
Scan your passport and e-mail a copy to yourself. This will speed up the replacement process if it is lost or stolen.
A visa is a stamp placed in the passport by the authorities of a country. The visa grants you permission to reside and study in that country.
Students enrolled in the quarter program do NOT need a visa.
Students enrolled in the semester program must obtain a student visa in the U.S. prior to departure to Europe.
You will apply for a visa through the Italian Consulate only (you will not need a visa for Spain). Detailed instructions will be given in your Predeparture Checklist. Use the visa instructions and sample application in the UCEAP Predeparture Checklist. Read the visa instructions carefully; they are detailed and it is important that you follow them precisely; if you fail to do so you may not receive a visa. The application and requirements are different for the Los Angeles and San Francisco consulates. To avoid delays (and last minute panic) apply as early as possible for your visa.
The way your name is spelled, abbreviated, punctuated, etc., on your passport must be exactly the same in MyEAP and on all other documents submitted with your visa application. Even minor discrepancies can cause big problems.
Non-U.S. CitizensIf you are not a U.S. citizen, you are required to have a valid passport and a residence permit plus proof of permission to reenter the U.S. You will also need to provide proof of having a return flight to the U.S.
If you are an EU citizen, you do not need a visa.
Residence Permit (Permesso di Soggiorno)
Students enrolled in the semester program will also need a residence permit.
After your arrival in Rome, Study Center staff will help you obtain a residence permit for foreignerspermesso di soggiorno. You must provide the local authorities with specific documents, including certificates of financial guarantee. Refer to the Predeparture Checklist for specific requirements. You must have all of these documents ready to submit upon your arrival in Rome. The residence permit cost is approximately €156. You will need to pay for this in cash (euros) when you apply.
The permesso di soggiorno is required for legal residence in Italy. You will be deported if you fail to secure the permesso di soggiorno. Neither ACCENT nor UCEAP will refund any fees paid for the program in this case, and no academic credit will be awarded.
Travel Before or After Your Program
U.S. citizens are allowed to travel in the Schengen area for up to 90 days without a visa.
If you are on the quarter program, your program is 74 days, leaving only 16 days for travel before or after your program.
If you are a semester student, you must submit your actual passport to the consulate 60–90 days prior to the start date of your program. It may not be returned for several weeks; therefore, be careful when planning international travel before your program. It may be possible to obtain a second, temporary passport to use while your regular passport is surrendered to the Italian consulate. Contact the U.S. Passport Agency
for more information.
UCEAP recommends that you do not plan to depart for your program more than a week or two prior to the program start date due to the lengthy visa process. It is best to travel after the completion of your program.
The UCEAP student budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
Special Note for Non-U.S./Non-EU Citizens
You must check for your own requirements for traval in Europe before or after the validity date of your visa. If you are planning to travel outside of Italy during or after the program, investigate the requirements to do so as there may be visa restrictions for certain countries.
Always personally carry your passport, visa, ticket, prescription medications, and money when traveling. Never put valuables in your checked luggage.
Identify each item of your luggage on the inside and outside with your name, home address, and address abroad. To avoid theft, never leave your luggage unattended. Luggage restrictions vary by airline.
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Clothing that can be layered
- Passport-size photos (for public transportation passes)
- Prescription medication (for more information see the Health chapter in this guide)
- Plug adaptor (see Electrical Current in this chapter)
- School supplies, such as a clipboard for taking notes during site visits, notebooks, pencils, and pens, which are much more expensive in Europe
- A shawl or scarf for ladies, to cover bare shoulders when visiting churches
- One dressy outfit for formal occasions
- Any sports attire you may need
- Bath towel (for Spain)
- Vitamins (they are expensive in Europe)
The weather in March can tend to be chilly, but will warm up fairly quickly during the spring.
The UCEAP Student Budget does not include funds for the purchase of clothing.
Clothing in Europe is generally more stylish and a bit more expensive than in California. Take clothing that is easy to care for, a dressy outfit for more formal occasions, and comfortable, sturdy walking shoes with thick soles. Flip-flops will mark you as an American tourist and short shorts may attract unwanted attention; avoid wearing them. Modest clothing is required when visiting churches or other holy sites. Females will not be allowed to enter many churches with bare shoulders; either wear a shirt with sleeves or wear a shawl. No one is allowed into the major basilicas wearing shorts of any length.
The voltage in Europe is 220–240 rather than the standard U.S. 110 volts, and the electrical outlets are different than those in the U.S. A plug adaptor is used to fit plugs on appliances from the U.S. into European outlets. A voltage converter changes your appliance’s voltage from the U.S. standard to European standard. All electrical appliances provide information about their voltage, usually on a label attached to the appliance. If your appliance indicates 110–240 volts, you will only need a plug adaptor to use it in Europe. If it indicates only 110–120, you will need a voltage converter with round European plug prongs. Converters do not work with blow-dryers, alarm clocks, electric razors, and some other appliances, especially over a period of time. It is best to purchase such items when you arrive in Madrid or Rome. Because the cost of electricity abroad is high and improper use of appliances may damage electrical outlets and the appliances, it is a good policy to ask before using the outlets.
Independent Travel to Europe
Insurance for Personal Possessions
The UCEAP Insurance Plan
includes a personal property benefit. Review the plan carefully prior to departure and determine if it provides enough coverage to suit your needs. Consider also that your parents may already have insurance coverage for personal possessions. Find out if their insurance will cover your items while in transit and while abroad, and also inquire about deductibles.
You may decide to purchase additional coverage, especially for items of high value such as a computer or camera. If you decide to do so, it is best to obtain insurance before departure because most theft occurs in the airport or while moving into housing. The university does not protect student belongings—even in university accommodations. You are responsible for your own personal property. You can safeguard your belongings from damage or theft by locking your room and securing money, travelers checks, jewelry, passport, and other possessions.
Use logical precautions to safeguard valuables; for example, avoid wearing expensive clothing or jewelry and going to questionable parts of the city, especially at night or when alone. Your vulnerability can be minimized if you are conscious of your actions and appearance. Be cautious about inviting casual acquaintances home.
Travel Arrangements & Arrival
Be sure to note the program start date and time before purchasing an airline ticket.
Flights are often changed or canceled; confirm your flight schedule with the airline about two weeks before departure, and again a day or two beforehand.
You must make and pay for your own travel arrangements to your first city and your return home (even if you are on financial aid). You are strongly urged to purchase a changeable airline ticket. You may wish to contact fellow UCEAP students before departure to discuss the possibility of making joint travel plans. Your mid-program flight from your first city to your second city is arranged for you by the program. Transfers to and from the airports are also provided.
Detailed arrival information, including Study Center contact information and directions to the check-in locations, is provided in the Arrival Information Sheet in the online UCEAP Predeparture Checklist. Carry this information with you to Europe.
You are responsible for arriving at the specified location on the required date and time for the official start of the program. The Official Start Date is listed in the program calendar. If you fail to appear on the Official Start Date, you will be subject to dismissal from the program (Student Agreement, Section 10).
The start date and calendar of the program can change due to unforeseen circumstances. You are responsible for making modifications in your travel itinerary to accommodate such changes. UCEAP is not responsible for any unrecoverable transportation charges incurred for independent travel arrangements. In order to be kept informed of any program changes, you must update MyEAP with any changes in your address, phone number, or e-mail, and notify the UCEAP Systemwide Office that changes have been made.
If you feel more comfortable traveling with a companion, contact fellow UCEAP students at your home campus to discuss the possibility of making joint travel plans. You can also look for a travel companion on the UCEAP Italy
or UCEAP Spain
Provide a copy of your itinerary to ACCENT by the deadline indicated in the Predeparture Checklist. Inform ACCENT of any changes to your itinerary thereafter.
Financial Aid Students
Your financial aid package is based partly on the UCEAP Student Budget for the program. The estimated round-trip airfare is based on the cost of a changeable student fare to Italy or Spain. If your independent travel costs are greater than the airfare estimate in the UCEAP Student Budget, notify your financial aid counselor. Neither UCEAP nor the Financial Aid Office can guarantee that the additional cost will be funded by financial aid.
Attendance at all orientation sessions is mandatory (UCEAP Student Agreement, Section 10). If you miss the orientations, you may be dismissed from UCEAP.
The program begins with an orientation, during which you will learn important information about academic, logistic, and cultural aspects of your stay in Rome and Madrid. This introduction to life and study in Europe will help you adjust as quickly as possible to the new city and culture surrounding you. There will be a second orientation when you switch cities.
The specific arrival date, time, and meeting place for the orientations are listed in the UCEAP Predeparture Checklist. Short walking tours will introduce you to the UC/ACCENT facilities and the area around the Study Center in central Rome and Madrid.
A group welcome reception is held during the first full week of the program.
Travel options & travel sign-out
During your stay in Europe, your primary mode of transportation will be public transportation (buses, metro, local trains, trams) or just walking, so it is helpful to have an idea of the transit systems before you depart. Maps of the Madrid and Rome transit systems are readily available online and will be provided in the program materials available at the on-site orientation.
In Madrid, public transportation passes, called abonos de transportes, are available to purchase. These all-purpose monthly passes are good for unlimited rides on the Madrid Metro, buses, and trenes de cercanias (suburban trains) within a specific number of “zones.” As of August 2012, a 30-day pass covering all of central Madrid costs €33,50 for those under 23 years of age and €52,20 if over 23. Costs for transportation without the abono are much higher; however, you may need to buy a ten-ride ticket (€12,20) or single tickets (€1,50) during your first days in Madrid until you get your abono. Ten-ride and single tickets can be purchased from tobacco shops, Metro ticket booths, and bus company kiosks located throughout Madrid.
Rome has an extensive public transportation system, including buses, trams, local trains, and an underground metro. Individual bus, metro, or tram tickets cost €1:50; a monthly pass costs €34. One-day, three-day, and week-long passes are also available. The monthly pass is the most economical option, and UCEAP highly recommends that you purchase one for commuting, site visits, recreation, etc.
Tickets are usually purchased before boarding and they are validated once on board. Tickets can be purchased from tobacco shops, newsstands, and some automatic machines. Fines for riding without a ticket (random inspections do take place) are generally about €51–€101 if paid up front and higher if they cannot be paid immediately.
Be aware that transportation workers can strike at any time. Always be prepared to walk to class and make any necessary changes to your schedule. The UC/ACCENT Study Centers are located in central Rome and central Madrid. From the center of the city, many destinations are more easily reached by walking.
If you do not make round-trip arrangements, be sure to book a return flight with plenty of lead time once abroad. Study Center staff can refer you to a local travel agency for information on return travel.
All non-U.S. citizens must arrange for round-trip flights prior to departure, as proof of a round-trip itinerary will be requested by the Italian consulate for visa purposes.
MyEAP student account, UCEAP student budget & handling
Understanding Your Finances
Understanding your finances before, during, and after your program is crucial to having a successful time abroad. The following list outlines just a few of the many things you will need to know before departure. Detailed information on the following topics can be found in the Money Matters
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
- Contact information for finance questions
- How to estimate the cost of your program
- Budget instructions and information
- How to and who can make payments to UCEAP
- UCEAP student account information
- Banking before and after arrival
- Fees and penalties
- Loan information
- How financial aid works while abroad (how do I get my financial aid from my home campus and how are my fees paid?)
- Various forms (e.g., direct deposit, etc.)
MyEAP Student Account
Your MyEAP Student Account
is similar to your UC campus financial account. It will be available as soon as you are selected for your program in MyEAP. You can make payments through this account using e-checks or credit cards (MasterCard, American Express, or Discover). The fees that you owe UCEAP will be applied to your account after your program predeparture withdrawal date, which is listed in MyEAP. For the amount due to UCEAP prior to fees being posted on your account, refer to the UCEAP Student Budget Payment Voucher located on the second page of your UCEAP Student Budget
. Program fees are subject to change.
UCEAP Student Budget
Your UCEAP Student Budget lists the fees you will pay to UCEAP and an estimate of the personal expenses you will need to plan for. It does not include the cost of recreational travel or personal entertainment. Review your UCEAP Student Budget frequently. The Payment vouchers are on the second page of the UCEAP Student Budget
- Download and print your UCEAP Student Budget and Payment Vouchers.
- Note the deadlines on the Payment Vouchers.
- Give the UCEAP Student Budget and Payment Vouchers to the person responsible for paying your UCEAP bills. Sign this person up for Third Party Authorization on MyEAP so they can make payments online.
For further information see the Money Matters
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
and the Money Matters tab of your Participants Portal. If you will be receiving financial aid, see also the UCEAP Financial Assistance
Handling Money Abroad
The euro is the official currency unit accepted in Italy, Spain, and most nations of the European Union (abbreviated
EUR or €). Information about the euro is available on the European Central Bank
UCEAP recommends that you go to Europe with about 300 euros in cash. You can obtain euros from your bank prior to departure. The first few days of the program tend to be structured with orientations, and you may not have time to obtain local currency during this period. By coming prepared with euros, you will have money to hold you over until you become more familiar with the city. You should also carry some money in U.S. dollars for use while traveling.
Exchanging Money after Arrival
Always remember to take your passport when making financial transactions abroad.
You can exchange money at banks, foreign exchange offices, airports, railroad stations, some tourist information centers, and some travel agencies. Avoid exchanging money at hotels, exchange booths located on the street (cambios), and tourist shops; although they are convenient, their rates are often less favorable than those offered at banks. A passport is required to exchange money.
Take an ATM card linked to your checking account in the U.S. This is the easiest way to access funds abroad, and the exchange rate will be better than with any other options. ATM cards provide a convenient way of getting cash, making deposits and transfers, and verifying account balances.
Ask your home bank:
- Do they have a partner bank in Italy and/or Spain?
- Will I be able to access my account while abroad?
- Will my PIN (personal identification number) work and will I be able to withdraw cash with my ATM card in Europe? (Keep in mind when choosing a PIN that ATMs abroad do not have letters on the keypads as they do in the U.S.)
- What is the daily limit that I can withdraw from my account?
- What fees will I be charged to withdraw money abroad?
It is best if your card is affiliated with Visa or MasterCard so that you can receive cash advances in case the ATM does not work.
In recent years, students have had success using certain bank ATMs without extra fees. Students who have accounts with Bank of America have been able to use Barclays Bank ATMs without foreign transaction or third party fees. Students who have checking accounts with Charles Schwab have been able to use ATMs, and Charles Schwab has refunded most of the fees charged by European banks. Confirm these options with the banks before departure as bank policies change frequently.
Notify your bank that you will be studying abroad. Due to fraud, some banks have put blocks on cards because they were unaware that the student was studying abroad and suspected that the ATM or credit card had been stolen.
Take at least one major credit card (a second is advised to keep in reserve for emergencies). Major credit cards are accepted in most large stores and restaurants throughout Europe. Visa and MasterCard tend to be more widely accepted in Italy than American Express (AmEx).
You can also arrange to use your Visa or MasterCard to obtain a cash advance; however, the interest rates are usually quite high. Check with the issuing bank in the U.S. before you leave to see what services are offered and where, and to make sure that the card will be accepted by European banks and ATMs. Your passport is required for this service.
Notify your credit card company that you will be studying abroad so that your card does not get blocked for suspicious use.
Money from Home
You will not be able to cash personal checks, U.S. bank checks, or cashier’s checks in Italy, except in very limited cases, such as at an AmEx office. Therefore, do not rely on these as methods for financing expenses. Funds mailed to you from the U.S. should be in the form of a bank draft or international money order. A better way to get money sent to you is through Western Union.
Plan your finances carefully to avoid the need to have additional funds sent from home. Plan for independent travel expenses as well as all incidentals not covered by the program.
Western Union can be used to have money sent from home in a very short amount of time (sometimes within minutes). In most instances, you can receive local currency at competitive foreign exchange rates. Check the Western Union
website for locations in Madrid and Rome.
AmEx maintains a wire service, and transfers from the U.S. generally take two business days to arrive. You may receive funds directly in AmEx Travelers Cheques. AmEx also permits cardholders to charge Travelers Cheques to their account or cash personal checks. In Rome there is an AmEx office located at Piazza di Spagna 38, and in Madrid, you can find the AmEx office at Calle Juan Ignacio Luca de Tena, 17.
Mail, local and international calls & computer access
Approximate time difference: add 9 hours
You can call the U.S. from Italy or Spain by dialing 001 + area code + phone number.
You are advised to have a cell phone while in Europe. Cell phones are particularly useful for emergencies; however, using a cell phone to call home can be expensive. If you own a smartphone, check with your provider about using it abroad. There may be inexpensive options available.
During orientation, you will receive detailed information about the various ways to call home, recommended phone cards, and buying a cell phone in Europe.
Many students use Skype
, Google Voice
, or other web-based services to communicate with family and friends back home. Buy a headset in the U.S. where electronics generally cost less.
Student apartments are not equipped with telephone lines, so you will need to use a cell phone or outside phone to make any calls. There are pay phones located throughout the city. For all pay phones, you will need to purchase a tarjeta telefónica (phone card) from a quiosco or estanco. The topic of tarjeta telefónica, where to buy them, and how to use them will be covered in depth at your on-site orientation in Madrid.
Using a prepaid phone card:
Phone cards are also a good option for calling the U.S. You can buy them from a locutorio
, or you can buy them online from Cloncom
. On this website you can check rates and receive your PIN and access numbers via e-mail.
You can use a prepaid card on any phone (home, cell phone, and public phones). Plan to use a toll-free access number (900 number) when you call from someone else’s phone so that they are not charged any fees for the call.
Be mindful of the following:
- 901 Access: This access method allows you to pay for a local call but receive more minutes for your international call. To call from a payphone, insert coins and then dial the 901 access number provided.
- 900 Access: By using this access method you will be making a toll-free call.
All apartments in the Residence Trastevere have telephones, but they do not dial out; they can only be used to receive calls.
With the popularity of cell phones, pay phones are gradually being phased out in Rome. Most of the remaining ones work on a phone card system. Prepaid Italian phone cards (scheda telefonica) are available at the post office, tobacco shops (tabacchi), and cafés. Inexpensive phone cards for use with apartment landlines can be economical. International calling cards purchased in the U.S. are the most expensive way to call home, and students often find that they do not work when used abroad. The calling cards purchased in Italy are less expensive and more effective. The “Europa” and “Happiness Plus” cards tend to have the best rates for calling the U.S. and are available at most newsstands and tobacco shops. A card from a long-distance provider such as AT&T, MCI, or Sprint will allow calls to be billed to your home phone account.
It is best not to have packages sent to you. Packages often arrive after students have completed the program and will NOT be forwarded.
Never ship laptops, cameras, or luggage abroad; shipping is expensive and subject to arbitrary customs duties. Do not try to have medications shipped to you.
Luggage and packages may not be sent prior to your arrival. The Study Center will not store luggage.
Mailing packages to Europe can take a very long time. If you do decide to have packages sent, asking friends and family to declare “Used Items for Personal Use Only” on packages shipped overseas may alleviate high customs charges, but be forewarned that even inexpensive items marked in this way are not immune to customs charges or delays. Customs officials have the right to examine the contents of any package and assess its value. All packages must clear customs, and you will be charged at least 20 percent VAT (Value Added Tax). To avoid custom charges and delays, it might be safer, faster, and cheaper to just purchase items in Europe or to shop online from a European Union country.
It is best to have mail and packages sent via FedEx, UPS, or a similar service. The express mail service offered by the U.S. Postal Service takes much longer than the private services because the package enters the regular mail system once it arrives overseas.
All mail should be mailed to the Study Centers at the following addresses.
c/o ACCENT/UC Rome Study Center
piazza dell’Orologio, 7
00186 Rome, ITALY
c/o ACCENT Madrid Center
C/Miguel Angel, 6 bajo 9
28010 Madrid – Spain
Computer Access & Use
The Rome Study Center has a computer lab with 12 workstations and two laser printers, plus a wireless area for students with laptops equipped with wireless network cards (WiFi cards). The Study Center computer lab is available from 8:45 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays.
Be aware that Skype, YouTube, and Facebook are blocked at the Study Center due to limited bandwidth.
There is low bandwidth wireless Internet available at Residence Trastevere. Computers are not provided, so you must have access to a laptop with a wireless card if you want to use the Internet. Be aware that this wireless service is provided and managed entirely by Residence Trastevere and neither UC nor ACCENT is able to resolve any service problems that may arise.
At the ACCENT Madrid Center, students have access to a computer lab consisting of 10 iMacs along with DSL network connections and wireless for personal laptops. The Study Center computer lab is available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Also, laptop Internet connections and WiFi access are available free of charge at the Instituto Internacional library, which is where courses will be held in Madrid. You can connect to the Internet at the Madrid Study Center using an Ethernet cable (plug-ins are located throughout the building) or through a wireless network (if your laptop has a wireless card). In addition, there is a printer available via the WiFi network for use on a pay-per-page basis. Internet access, usually WiFi, is available in all apartment assignments.
You are encouraged to take a laptop. It will be very useful.
Be aware of the following:
- Be certain your laptop is fully insured in case of loss or theft. Review the UCEAP Insurance Plan to determine if the benefits provided are sufficient.
- Do not ship your laptop overseas; it may be held for inspection by customs officials and customs fees are costly, even for older laptops.
- Be sure to carry your laptop with you at all times and never set the bag containing your computer out of reach. Laptop computers are among the most frequently stolen items from travelers.
- Make sure you have a wireless card installed in your computer in order to access the WiFi network at the Instituto Internacional and Study Centers.
- Take your own Ethernet cable.
- Ensure that your laptop is equipped with a built-in voltage transformer that enables it to operate on the 220-volt system used in Europe (this is a fairly common feature) and take adaptor plugs.
- Be certain you have the right type of plug adaptor, and closely follow the instructions you will be sent via e-mail prior to departure.
- You may also consider buying Lojack for Laptops and/or a laptop lock.
Housing & Meals
Program housing options, supplies needed & meals
UCEAP Students Say...
Talk to as many people in Italian as possible, especially in your neighborhood; by doing that, it will quickly begin to feel like home.
Madrid – Privately Owned Apartments
Apartments are co-ed, with single-sex bedrooms, and are shared with other UC or international students. You will be in a double room with one other student; up to ten people may share an apartment.
Each apartment is unique and will vary in size, condition, and proximity to your classes. Keep in mind that living standards in Europe are different from those in the U.S., and apartments tend to be smaller and older.
Student apartments tend to be comfortable but simple. The rooms are furnished with a bed (including sheets, pillows, and blankets) and a closet or armoire, but minimal storage space. Keep this in mind when packing your bags. You will need to take your own towels, soap, shampoo, etc. Bathrooms are small and usually there is only one bathroom per apartment. (In apartments with seven or more students, there is a minimum of two bathrooms.) Kitchen facilities include a cooking range, a refrigerator, and basic cooking utensils shared by everyone in the apartment. Each apartment will have one or more areas for studying, which will include a table or desk. Apartments will be furnished with fans. All apartments have a washing machine, but they will not have dryers due to the high cost of electricity in Madrid.
You can expect anywhere from a 30- to 45-minute walk, Metro, or bus ride to get to class. Commuting is a regular part of the life of a madrileño.
Rome - Residence Trastevere
The Residence Trastevere is a complex in the Trastevere neighborhood of central Rome. These spacious, single-sex apartments house four to eight students in a combination of double or triple rooms with single beds; a desk and wardrobe are provided for each student. Each apartment layout is unique, but all provide similar amenities (e.g., full kitchen facilities with a refrigerator, oven, and washing machine, a television, a common area, and a full bathroom). No more than five people will share a bathroom. All apartments have phones, but only for incoming calls; outgoing service is not provided. Reasonable usage of utilities is included in the program fees. Low bandwidth wireless Internet in included.
All bedding and towels are provided in Residence Trastevere. Basic cooking utensils and dishes are also provided. The apartments are lightly cleaned twice weekly. See the details in the residence contract included in your Predeparture Checklist.
The complex houses approximately 250 people. The residence is not open to the public; however, non-UCEAP American students and others will be living in the same buildings. You will receive one key for the main entrance and one for your apartment. A staffed reception desk is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily and a security guard is on duty after hours (8 p.m.–8 a.m.). Guests may visit only between the hours of 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. Overnight guests are not allowed and all visiting guests must leave ID (passport, driver’s license, etc.) at the reception or with the security guard.
Italian law regulates noise levels. You will sign a residence contract agreeing to housing rules and disciplinary procedures.
The neighborhood surrounding the residence offers a wide array of commercial services: laundromats, restaurants, supermarkets, corner stores, retail stores, newsstands, public transportation by bus and tram, and a large, weekly open air market. An on-site gym is available at extra cost for students in Residence Trastevere.
The residence location is approximately a 30- to 45-minute commute by foot or public transportation to the UC/ACCENT Study Center.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I obtain accommodations?
A: You automatically receive housing as described above. There is a housing questionnaire and contract in your online Predeparture Checklist. If you would like to request a specific roommate(s) or apartment mate(s), you must both make the request on your questionnaire. Read the information thoroughly and submit the housing questionnaire and contract to ACCENT by the designated deadline. All housing placements are final.
Q: What should I expect when I first arrive?
A: Upon arrival you will meet at a designated location and receive information and instructions to get to your accommodations. You will be responsible for securing and paying for your own transportation to your accommodations on arrival day. If you arrive before the official arrival date, you will be responsible for arranging your own accommodations until the program starts. Details are given in your Arrival Information Sheet located in your Predeparture Checklist.
Q: How do I pay for housing?
A: Your housing fees are billed through your UCEAP account. You are required to live in UCEAP-sponsored housing.
Q: Is there a deposit and housing contract?
A: There is a non-refundable housing deposit billed through your UCEAP fees. You will sign an ACCENT housing contract, which is included in the Predeparture Checklist. The ACCENT cancelation fees are outlined in the Predeparture Checklist and also in the UCEAP Student Budget.
Q: May I have overnight guests?
A: Overnight guests are prohibited as determined by legal agreements for housing. The ACCENT staff can provide information about hostels and hotels in the area for visitors.
Madrid: The apartment buildings are home to Spanish families and others, and though there are no curfews, quiet hours are generally observed between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m. Excessive noise is prohibited by law and Spaniards are serious about this; residents have the right to call the authorities after 11 p.m. Parties are not allowed in the apartments, and students who violate these rules will be expelled.
Rome: In Residence Trastevere, all visitors must be escorted to and from the apartment by the student hosting them. Students may have visitors to their apartment but they are not allowed to stay after midnight. Disciplinary action will be taken if a student is found to have guests in their apartments after midnight. Disciplinary action could include dismissal from UCEAP. Please note that all occupants in an apartment are held responsible if one roommate hosts a guest after midnight.
Q: What is student life like in Madrid and Rome?
A: The biggest difference is that there is no “campus.” Rather, the cities become your campus. This creates an opportunity to enrich your experience by living and learning the lifestyle of the local culture. Living in a centuries-old city in Europe is generally a memorable experience for visitors, but the beauty and history come with a small price. Apartment utilities may be less reliable, travel time between your home and the Study Center may be much longer than you are used to, and public transportation may not always be reliable.
Electricity is expensive in Madrid and Rome. Be conservative with energy use. As it states in your housing contract, you will be billed for any electricity you use over an “average” European amount.
A group welcome reception is held during the first week of the program and a farewell reception is held during the last week.
The apartments in Madrid and Residence Trastevere all include kitchen facilities with stoves, dishes, and refrigerators, and students often cook meals together.
In Spain, breakfast is rather light, usually consisting of a roll and strong coffee. Lunch, on the other hand, tends to be a very substantial meal and is considered to be the main meal of the day. Lunch is typically served around 2 p.m., and Spaniards tend to linger over this main meal. The evening meal is lighter, and is served later in the evening, around 9:30 p.m.
There are many types of markets available for your grocery needs, from family-owned specialty corner stores to large markets. The least expensive grocery store is Dia Autoservicio. You will have to take your own shopping bags (or pay for theirs) and bag your own groceries. In addition, most neighborhoods have a large marketplace with stall after stall of products, each stall specializing in one thing: meats and cheeses, chicken and eggs, fruits and vegetables, bread, pastries, dairy products, and dry goods.
In Rome there are plenty of markets with all kinds of food available, including fresh produce and legumes for vegetarian options. In addition, the open-air markets are a real culinary adventure and an excellent place to grocery shop when on a budget.
It is recommended that you learn the local words for food items prior to going abroad. This will help you discern from menus which dishes are vegetarian and will also help you to ask your wait staff for vegetarian options.
Vegetarians will have no problem in Italy, as fresh produce and legumes are plentiful in the markets and many restaurants offer vegetarian options. Vegans may find it a little more difficult to find items without cheese or dairy products. The UC Center Rome staff can assist you in locating good markets and restaurants.
A vegetarian diet is a little more difficult in Spain, particularly if you do not eat fish. Most prepared foods contain some form of meat, or are cooked with chicken or meat broth. It is important to remember that vegetarianism is not as widely accepted or understood in Spain as it is in California. In some instances, vegetarian guests have been provided with a prime piece of ham, as the host may interpret “meat” only to lean beef. The staff at the UC Center Madrid can provide a helpful list of restaurants that offer meatless options.
Madrid offers endless options for eating out. The study center staff can provide a list of cheap and chic restaurants around Madrid. Many restaurants and cafés offer fixed menus or menú del día (a whole meal for a fixed price). You will usually find these meals to be the best value, as they will include a choice of two main dishes, bread, wine or mineral water, and dessert.
There are also numerous cafés and tapas bars throughout Madrid, which are good places for a quick snack. Besides tapas, there are salad bars, which are a great option for lunch. They offer unlimited salads, pastas, soups, desserts, and beverages for approximately €8. In bars, you can also order a Spanish sandwich (bocadillo) for about €4. When eating out, it is less expensive to sit inside than it is to sit at an outside table, and even less expensive to sit at the bar.
In Rome, eating out is generally a little more expensive than it is in California; however, you can find inexpensive restaurants away from the popular tourist areas. There are many cafes, pizzerie, and trattorie throughout Rome that are reasonably priced.
Social activities, excursions & working in your host
UCEAP Students Say…
Friends on UCEAP are important, but don’t rely too heavily on them. Break out and be independent. Don’t hang out in groups with Americans.
In Madrid and Rome, walk. It’s the best way to really get to know the city and discover the good, not-so-tourist-frequented restaurants.
Participating in extracurricular cultural and social activities while on UCEAP is an excellent way to meet people, improve your language skills, and integrate more fully into the community.
The ACCENT staff will have information on cultural and social events, and will organize a number of activities for the program, which will vary depending on availability and student interest. Activities might include:
- Gallery Visits
- Movie Night
- Coffee Houses
- “Madrid on a Budget” walking tour will show you how to save money during your stay in Madrid
- An evening performance of flamenco, theater, Zarzuela (Spanish operetta), or an Italian opera
- Cooking classes
- Attendance to a Soccer Game
- Tiramisu evening with Italian students
- Film nights at the local Italian University
- Cooking lessons
Travel during the Program
You are strongly discouraged from “couch surfing” (using an online social networks to organize free places to stay) when traveling.
The UCEAP Student Budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
Familiarize yourself with the UCEAP Student Travel Policy
, which prohibits travel to places identified by the U.S. Department of State as ones to be avoided for safety reasons.
While travel opportunities may be tempting, do not allow your travels to interfere with coursework or needed study time. It is expected that you will attend all class sessions and adhere to your program’s attendance policy at all times. As stipulated in the UCEAP Student Agreement, you must regularly attend all classes for which you are registered, and must conform to all applicable rules.
Opportunities for travel are plentiful, and UCEAP does not wish to discourage you from taking advantage of them, but you will spend only a short amount of time in Madrid and Rome and you are encouraged to get to know these areas and to limit extensive travel.
Do not make travel plans until after you are abroad and know your schedule. There may be occasional site visits on Fridays and Saturdays. These site visits are considered course time and they cannot be missed. You will have to change any prearranged travel plans if they interfere with your classes. (Students in the past have lost money because they cannot get refunds for fees already paid out to companies, such as airlines.)
Virtually every destination of interest within Spain and Italy is served by trains, buses, or both, making weekend travel easy.
Failure to abide by UCEAP travel guidelines or the Student Agreement may be cause for dismissal from the program.
You are required to inform Study Center staff about your travel plans, especially if you are away for more than a weekend. An emergency may arise abroad or at home that may necessitate reaching you promptly. For your convenience, there is a Travel Sign-Out form in MyEAP. Please use this whenever you travel out of the Madrid or Rome area.
Physical health, medications, counseling & student
In addition to the following section, read the Health
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.
Before departure, review the U.S. CDC Travelers’ Health Information
website for specific health information for all your travel destinations.
The standards of medical care in Italy and Spain are good. If you feel sick or have a medical emergency, seek medical attention and contact the Study Center immediately. The Study Centers can recommend clinics and English-speaking general practitioners and specialists, assist with the UCEAP insurance process, and help you make arrangements with your professors if an extended absence is expected. In an emergency, go to the emergency room at the local hospital.
You must pay for health services at the time they are rendered. The UCEAP insurance will refund eligible expenses after a claim process is completed. You can start the process online, by mail, or e-mail. You will need a correctly completed claim form
and itemized bills and receipts. Keep copies of all documentation for your records.
Reimbursement may take four to six weeks.
The UCEAP insurance coverage is paid by the University. See the UCEAP Insurance Plan
brochure for details and read the Insurance
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
Never ship medication to Spain or Italy or have it sent to you. Customs may confiscate the medication and/or impose very high fines. Plan to take enough prescription medication to last the length of your stay. Consult with your doctor(s) and the UCEAP insurance provider several weeks before departure to make sure that you can get enough medication.
You cannot get U.S. prescriptions filled in Spain or Italy. Pharmacies will not dispense drugs without a prescription from a doctor licensed to practice in that country. Antibiotics will not be dispensed without a prescription from a local doctor. Certain antibiotics commonly available in the U.S. are not available abroad.
Some medications, especially those for ADHD, regularly prescribed in the U.S. may not be available or legal in other countries. It is your responsibility to research any medications that are prescribed for you. Call the University of California travel assistance provider, Europ Assistance, on the dedicated 24/7 UC phone line at (866) 451-7606 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
If you regularly take a certain medication, take an adequate supply in a clearly labeled container. Pack it in your carry-on luggage with a copy of the prescription and a note from your doctor on letterhead stationery that describes your diagnosis, your treatment, and the prescribed medications, including their generic names.
Most common over-the-counter medications are available at Italian and Spanish pharmacies. Discuss any medical or health concerns with your doctor before departure.
Living and studying in another country includes stressful activities that often compound or exacerbate emotional or mental health issues. Emotional distress can have an impact on academic progress, personal relationships, and a successful UCEAP experience. It is important to be able to recognize triggers and signs of emotional distress and act immediately to get help. Know the warning signs, learn some techniques and skills to manage stress, and reach out for help. The UC Centers are available to help you, if needed.
Students with Disabilities
Contact the UCEAP Operations Specialist immediately if you need accommodations. Information will be treated confidentially. Advance planning is important. Accommodations may be arranged after you provide detailed information on services that will be required.
Note-takers and tutors may be available, but there may be expenses involved, which will be your responsibility. In general, most professors are more than willing to give extra time for exams.
Be flexible; you will find accessibility and accommodations different from the United States. As is the case in older buildings throughout Spain, accessibility at the Instituto Internacional is limited as there is only ramp access and one elevator, which is relatively small. The UC/ACCENT Study Center in Rome has restroom facilities and elevators for students with disabilities.
It is common for older buildings to have stairs and no elevators. Expect to encounter uneven sidewalks, unequipped bathrooms, and narrow doors and aisles. Newer buildings are more accessible and some of the major shopping malls, cinemas, museums, bars, and restaurants are well adapted. While some major sights have been made accessible, planning ahead is always recommended for students with disabilities.
Within the city of Rome, some but not all metro stations are wheelchair-accessible. Equipped stations are: Cipro (near the Residence Trastevere), Baldo degli Ubaldi, Termini (main train station), Cinecitta’, Sub Augusta, Furio Camillo, Pontelungo, Re di Roma, Valle Aurelia, Battistini, Colosseo, Circo Massimo, and all the stops of the B line except Cavour. Some buses have wheelchair access, but service is inconsistent.
Theft, intolerance, fire safety & emergency contacts
In addition to the following section, read the Safety
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.
The topic of safety will be covered in greater detail at the orientations in Madrid and Rome.
Putting yourself, fellow students, or the reputation of the program at risk is cause for dismissal from the program.
In addition to safety measures UCEAP takes to help protect you, you should register online with the U.S. embassy through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
, a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country. All Study Center Directors are members of the U.S. embassy’s Warden Network, which allows the U.S. embassy to stay in communication with and disseminate information to the American community primarily in times of crisis or emergency.
Madrid and Rome are major international cities. As such, be aware of and concerned for your personal safety.
Safe behavior abroad means using the same common sense and street smarts that you would use in any big city in the United States. This includes not putting yourself into risky or threatening situations, paying attention to safety briefings during orientation, learning areas of town to avoid, and knowing emergency phone numbers.
The incidence of violent crime in Rome is low in comparison to many major U.S. cities. However, minor crime continues to be a persistent problem. Most crimes tend to be non-violent and directed toward obtaining property such as purse-snatching, pick-pocketing, and residential and vehicle break-ins. Purses are either outright grabbed or straps are slashed by a person on foot or on a motor scooter. The Centro Storico (city center) has the highest incidence of these types of crimes.
Pickpockets and thieves are active throughout Madrid, especially in and around tourist areas. While this can occur year-round, it is especially common during the summer months when tourism is at its highest. Most petty crimes are committed by groups of young people using distraction tactics. Pickpockets prefer tourists and tend to work in tourist and crowded areas, in addition to the Metro, airports, and train stations.
Generally, pickpockets work in small groups of two or three individuals. One or two individuals distract the victim while another thief comes from behind and snatches the wallet or cuts the victim’s purse/bag and steals the contents. The most common type of pick-pocketing involves a woman’s purse being cut, generally where the zipper meets the fabric, or the slashing of the interior pocket of a man’s jacket or even the front pants pocket. Other popular methods involve the pickpocket simply colliding with the victim and snatching the wallet or having an accomplice drop items at the feet of the victim to create a distraction. When the helpful victim bends down to assist in picking up the items, a second thief comes from behind and commits the theft.
- Plan ahead when you are going to an unfamiliar part of the city so you do not have to pull out a map on a sidewalk.
- Always be aware of your surroundings. Exercise extra caution at night and at train stations, airports, nightclubs, bars, and outdoor cafés.
- Never carry large amounts of cash, and carry small amounts in more than one place in case you are robbed. Carry a decoy wallet with small bills.
- If you must carry a wallet, put it in a front or breast pocket—never in your back pocket.
- Carry money, credit cards, and important documents under your clothing in a security pouch or belt, if possible.
- If you must carry a purse or bag, strap it diagonally across your chest.
- Be conservative in attire.
- If you wear headphones while out and about in the city or on public transportation, be sure to have the volume low enough so you can hear what is going on around you.
- Never walk alone late at night; plan to take a taxi home. Use the buddy system so you can monitor and help each other, and always carry enough money for cab fare home.
- Be careful about who you approach for directions.
- Never get into a car with a stranger or someone you just met.
- If you are using a backpack, do not store your camera or other valuables where they can be removed without notice. When in crowds or on public transportation, carry your backpack or bag in front of you where you can see it.
- Leave anything you do not need in your room; this includes your passport! Carry a copy of your passport.
- Dress to blend in with the local culture. College sweatshirts, sweatpants, baseball caps, ﬂip-ﬂops, and shorts are all associated with Americans and may make you a target for a pickpocket.
Make a copy of the first page of your passport to use as a form of ID so you can leave your actual passport safe in your room. Immediately notify the nearest American embassy or consulate, local authorities, and the ACCENT staff if your passport is lost or stolen.
You are responsible for all of your belongings both inside and outside of program housing. Protecting your personal property against potential theft is often as simple as locking your doors and windows. Many thefts occur due to negligence in securing accommodations. Carry your room key and lock your apartment door whenever you are not inside, even for a short period of time. Intentionally leaving your door unlocked is just an opportunity for theft of property, your personal information, and more.
The Polizia di Stato (state police) and local police are well trained and have adequate resources to offer good assistance to travelers.
Excessive Drinking & Safety
Excessive alcohol consumption increases risk-taking behavior. Most safety incidents experienced by students while abroad were related to excessive drinking. You are expected to uphold the alcohol agreement that you signed with ACCENT, and abide by the UCEAP Substance Abuse Policy.
Drinking alcoholic beverages significantly increases risks to health and safety, and the danger increases as the amount of drinking increases. Drinking excessively will impair your ability to judge situations and make good decisions, which increases your risk for crime. You will be particularly vulnerable to robbery and physical and sexual assault.
Excessive use of alcohol affects perception, thinking, and coordination. It impairs judgment, reduces inhibitions, and increases any tendency toward aggression. Those who abuse alcohol are more likely than others to engage in high-risk, thoughtless, or violent behaviors.
Several major earthquake fault lines cross Italy. Principal Italian cities, with the exception of Naples, do not lie near these faults; however, smaller tourist towns, such as Assisi, are near faults and have experienced earthquakes.
Demonstrations & Strikes
Demonstrations, rallies, and protests are common in Madrid and are usually in reaction to labor disputes or domestic and foreign policy issues. Most demonstrations and protests are nonviolent, but violence may erupt. If you find yourself caught in the middle of a protest, seek shelter. Do not participate in demonstrations.
In Italy, strikes and other work stoppages occur frequently in the transportation sector (national airlines, airports, trains, and bus lines); most are announced in advance and are of short duration. Reconfirmation of domestic and international flight reservations is highly recommended.
Spain faces terrorism threats from both the Basque terrorist organization ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna - Basque Fatherland and Liberty) and al-Qa’ida elements and cells. ETA traditionally directs its attacks against government officials (police, military, and politicians) and facilities, as well as journalists and business executives (especially those involved in bringing high-speed rail to the Basque region). While ETA operates principally in the areas of northern Spain and southwestern France, attacks do take place in other areas including Madrid, Andalusia, and Barcelona.
Transportation & Road Safety
Spain has an excellent network of roads and highways. Spain’s bus system is extensive, serving cities and rural areas. The Madrid subway system is extensive and inexpensive. Train travel is reliable, though not as fast as the bus (with the exception of the high-speed AVE or Alta Velocidad Española).
Italy has one of the highest rates of car accident deaths in the European Union. Streets in Italian historic city centers are often narrow, winding, and congested. Motor scooters are very popular, and scooter drivers often see themselves as exempt from conventions that apply to automobiles. Pedestrians and drivers should be constantly alert to the possibility of a scooter’s sudden presence. Most vehicle-related deaths and injuries involve collisions between pedestrians or cyclists and scooters or other vehicles. Be particularly cautious if you choose to rent a scooter.
As a pedestrian be careful; sidewalks can be extremely congested and uneven. Look carefully in both directions before crossing streets, even when using a marked crosswalk with a green avanti (“walk”) light illuminated. Traffic lights are limited and often disobeyed, and a different convention of right-of-way is observed.
You must obey local transportation laws and regulations. You must purchase train tickets and validate them by punching them in validating machines, which are usually located near the entrance of train tracks prior to boarding. Failure to follow this procedure may result in an on-the-spot fine by an inspector on the train. You must purchase bus tickets prior to boarding and validate them immediately after boarding. Tickets may be purchased at tobacco stores or kiosks. Failure to follow this procedure may result in an immediate fine imposed by an inspector on the bus. If the violator does not pay the fine on the spot, it will automatically double and will be forwarded to the violator’s home address.
Use only officially licensed taxis. They are governed by strict legislation and standards are higher than in unlicensed taxis.
In Spain, licensed taxis are normally white with a red diagonal band on the door and will display a LIBRE (free) sign or an illuminated green light at night when they are available. Look for the taximeter inside and word TAXI painted on the outside. Asking for a receipt will deter most drivers from overcharging. Most cities have phone reservation and radio dispatch services for added security.
In Italy, a white vehicle with a red shield with “Comune di Roma” on the side door will indicate a licensed taxi from Rome County.
Buy and install a battery-operated smoke alarm. Know all your exits and have an escape plan. Read the Fire Safety
section in the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.
What Constitutes an Emergency?
An emergency is a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action. The following are considered emergencies:
- Any life/death situation
- A traumatic event requiring immediate assistance
- An arrest
- Civil unrest or a natural disaster in the host country
In an Emergency
Contact local emergency services first and then contact the following:
If you are in the U.S.
During office hours (8 a.m.–5 p.m. Pacific Time): Contact the Operations Specialist at the UCEAP Systemwide Office
After office hours: Call the 24-hour emergency phone number at (805) 893-4762
If you are in abroad:
Carry the local emergency contact information at all times.
There are four phone numbers equivalent to the U.S. 911 in Italy:
- Ambulance and Emergency Doctors: 118
- Police: 113
- Fire Department: 115
- Carabinieri (Military Police): 112
U.S. Embassy in Rome:
Phone: (+39) 06 46741
Address: via Vittorio Veneto 121–00187, ROMA
U.S. Citizen Services
Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. (walk-in)Non-Emergency Services
(e.g., passport renewal, Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, and notarial): By appointment only; go to the Department of State
website to schedule an appointment.
For general inquiries, call (+39) 06 4674 2420/2421 between 3 and 5 p.m., e-mail email@example.com
or fax (+39) 06 4674 2244
If you need immediate emergency assistance call 112 for Police, Ambulance, or Fire Department
U.S. Embassy in Madrid:
Emergency Phone: (34) 91-587-2200
Address: American Citizen Services (ACS) Unit
Calle Serrano 75
Business Hours: M-F 8:30 a.m.–1 p.m.
Phone: (34) 91-587-2240
Fax: (34) 91-587-2303
Store emergency phone numbers in your cell phone. Also, keep a hardcopy of all emergency numbers with you at all times.
If you have a health, travel, or safety emergency and do not have access to local or UCEAP representative emergency information, contact the UCEAP travel assistance provider, Europ Assistance, available 24/7:
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Federal and State law and University policy, does not
discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, religion,
sex, gender identity, pregnancy,* disability, age, medical
condition (cancer-related), ancestry, marital status,
citizenship, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era
veteran or special disabled veteran. The University also
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covers admission, access, and treatment in University programs
and activities. Inquiries regarding the University’s
student-related nondiscrimination policies may be directed to
the campus Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action
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conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.