Approx. Time Difference
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- Summer Quarter
- Fall Semester
- Spring Semester
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.
Student Finance Accountant
UCEAP Systemwide Office
6950 Hollister Avenue, Suite 200
Goleta, CA 93117-5823
Phone: (805) 893-4762; Fax: (805) 893-2583
Bookmark your Participants program page. This resource lists requirements and policies you need to know before you go abroad, including your Predeparture Checklist, UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Program Calendar, UCEAP Student Budgets, and payment instructions.
Study Center Abroad
The academic program in Florence is overseen by a local Academic Coordinator 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 consultation with UCEAP.
Mr. Michelangelo D’Elia, Resident Director
Dr. Mariarosa Mettifogo, Academic Coordinator
ACCENT/UC Florence Study Center
Piazza Santo Spirito, 10
50125 Florence, Italy
Phone: (calling from the U.S.): (011-39) 055 23 81 657
Phone: (calling from Italy): 055 23 81 657
Fax: (011-39) 055 094 4362
Phone Number Codes
U.S. international code ........011 (dial this to call from the U.S.)
Italy country code................. 39
Florence city code ...............055
Approximate Time Difference
Add 9 hours
This intensive language and culture program is designed especially for the University of California and taught by experienced Italian language instructors. Courses are demanding. Expect to be in the classroom or on required site visits and excursions from three to six hours per day. You are expected to attend all field exercises and excursions, which are integral components of the courses.
Summer Quarter Program
You will attend intensive language classes three to four hours per day, Monday through Friday, and a culture class twice a week. There will be occasional required events and excursions in the afternoons and evenings. Both language and culture classes are structured to include field trips in Florence, written reports, and opportunities for conversation and listening comprehension.
During the on-site orientation, you will take a placement exam to determine your level of language proficiency. You will then be placed in the appropriate language class. The language course levels correlate roughly with the lower-division elementary and intermediate designations at UC. Each language course is worth 5 UC quarter units (3.3 semester units). You will complete approximately two levels in the quarter program, as well as one Italian culture course worth 4 UC quarter units (2.7 semester units). Upon successful completion of the quarter program, you will earn 14 UC quarter units (9.3 semester units) of Italian language and culture credit. If you begin at levels five or six, an advanced Italian language course may be available.
Fall and Spring Semester Programs
You will attend intensive language classes three to four hours per day, Monday through Thursday. The culture classes are held twice a week and there are occasional classes on Friday.
During the on-site orientation, you will take a placement exam to determine your level of language proficiency. You will then be placed in the appropriate language class. The courses are divided into three sequential Italian language courses for 6 UC quarter units (4 semester units) each, and a fourth course in Italian culture, worth 4.5 UC quarter units (3 semester units). You will recieve a total of 22.5 UC quarter units (15 semester units) for the program.
The language courses focus on oral and written comprehension, grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary. All courses emphasize practice in speaking, reading and writing with individual and group oral presentations, role-plays, interviews with locals, and weekly written assignments. Local periodicals and other reading materials are used as the basis for several short papers during the term. You will complete three UC quarter levels of Italian language instruction.
All courses use the city of Florence to provide opportunities for interaction and enhancement of language skills, as well as immersion in Italian culture.
You are allowed one absence per class on the summer quarter program. You are allowed two absences per class from the semester program. Any absence beyond the limit will result in a deduction of a third of a grade (approximately 3%) from your final raw total. If you are absent due to a medical reason, you need to submit a doctor’s note. In addition, two tardies are equal to one unexcused absence (being 10 minutes late to class gives you a tardy). There are no exceptions. No make-ups are allowed for missed work. If you miss class when an assignment (quiz, written or oral test, paper due) is taking place, you must submit a valid doctor’s note in order to avoid getting an F grade for the assignment.
Note to Seniors
You are required to take a full-time load of study while in Florence. As a senior, carefully plan with your campus advisor to be sure you will not go over the unit maximum for your campus regulations. Do not plan to apply for graduation during the term immediately following your return from Florence, as grades may take longer to post to your UC transcript than your regular UC campus grades.
The following courses have been offered in recent quarters/semesters. Once the course list is confirmed for your term, course descriptions will be available on the UC Florence Study Center website. Courses are subject to change without notice.
Italian Culture Courses
Florence in Cinema
This course examines Florence and its presence in Italian and international cinema from the period immediately after World War II to the present. It presents a survey of films, movements, and genres in Italian cinema as well as the image of Florence in British and American cinema. The films are analyzed as aesthetic objects as well as in relation to the political, economic, social, and cultural environments depicted. The course is designed to broaden students’ knowledge of Florentine and Italian culture, society, history, economy, politics, literature, and cinema, as they learn how to critically analyze films and to recognize different film genres.
"What's Love Got to Do with it?" The Social History of Quattrocento Florence
Why were babies in Renaissance Florence sent away from their mothers as soon as they were born? Why were women in their teens married to men more than a decade older than them? How was it that in a culture that produced Petrarch’s passionate sonnets to Laura and Botticelli’s Primavera, love was not considered a requisite for marriage? This course will explore attitudes toward love, marriage, and the family in Renaissance Florence, mainly through primary sources: letters, diaries, trials records, criminal reports, tax records, as well as stories, poems, and paintings created by Florentines themselves.
Machiavelli & Friends
What does it mean to be called "Machiavellian" - to be sneaky, underhanded, evil? Niccolò Machiavelli is known by most people for having written The Prince, the notorious handbook for tyrants, but he also wrote the sparkling comedy La Mandragola, many love poems and songs, as well as The Discourse on Livy, a treatise which passionately praises self-governing republics. In this course we will challenge the Florentine's author's "Machiavellian" reputation and get to know the man who, in addition to the above works, also wrote hundreds of letters to his friends, letters that are incisive, witty, tender, and often hysterically funny and occasionally obscene. As an official of the Florentine government, Machiavelli traveled and met most of the principal figures of the Italian Renaissance - Cesare Borgia, Caterina Sforza, Pope Alexander VI, and Leonardo da Vinci - he was also close to the historian Francesco Guicciardini and the leader of the Florentine Republic Piero Soderini. In getting to know Niccolò and his friends we will become acquainted with the fascinating world they lived in - the world of Florentine Renaissance.
History and Culture of Food in Italy
This is a challenging course on one of the most fascinating chapters in the history of food. We will trace the historical evolution of Italian food culture in the geographical and cultural context of the Mediterranean from the times of the classical civilizations until today. The focus will be on understanding the extraordinary significance of food for the definition of “Italianness”. Pasta, pizza and cappuccino have become some of the most recognizable signs for Italian identity and they contribute to the creation of a coherent, unified image of Italy. To fully explore the evolution of this fascinating relationship between “Italianness” and food, a cornucopia of historical, cross-cultural and theoretical views is offered, drawing from history, anthropology, sociology, as well as from geography. Lectures and class discussions will be supplemented by special food workshops in which we will explore the history, culture and taste of some Italian key products: bread, wine and olive oil as well as coffee. Emphasis will be placed on developing a methodological and structured approach towards how to taste these food items, covering all of the essential elements of the subject, from the physiology and experience of the senses to tasting techniques, tasting vocabulary, and quality assessment.
Telling Stories in Medieval and Renaissance Italian Art
Since ancient times, artists have sought to depict stories in art, addressing the challenge presented by the inherent fixity and silence of images. This course examines the use and characteristics of visual narrative in Italian art over several centuries. In Late Antiquity, the Christian suspicion of images was overcome by arguments for the utility of visual representations of the saints’ lives. Following the implementation of narrative art by the Church, we witness the proliferation and codification of religious storytelling in Medieval art. Art’s persuasive powers were then honed through exchanges with dramatic and literary forms, and in the 15th century, secular and Humanist values left their imprint on both the form and content of visual narratives. In the 16th century, art was used to tell stories that were open-ended, and whose only purpose was pleasure. Finally, placement of sculptures in a garden like Bomarzo allowed for viewers to walk about in fantastic settings and dream up their own stories. Throughout this course, we will explore broader hermeneutical questions about the relation of word to image. Class meetings will often be held in museums and at monuments. Artists to be studied include Giotto, Nicola Pisano, Donatello, Ghiberti, Fra Angelico, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Giorgione, and Titian.
Art and Culture in Renaissance Florence
This course is designed for students interested in an in-depth exploration of the artistic production of Italy from the 14th to the 16th centuries, with a special focus on Florence and its social, political and devotional context. Starting with the Gothic, the course will follow the development of different forms of art – painting, sculpture and architecture – up to the middle of the 16th century, thus covering the period known as the Renaissance. This time underwent an extraordinary renewal in all fields of human knowledge, from literature and philosophy to the visual arts, the latter being considered a fundamental instrument for the investigation of nature and of human experience. The course analyzes how the recovery and study of ancient sources and the work of contemporary humanists inspired and stimulated painters, sculptors, and architects. For the analysis of the Early Renaissance and its continuity with and renovation of Medieval art, special emphasis is placed on such figures as Giotto, Ghiberti, Donatello, Brunelleschi, Masaccio, and Fra Angelico. Moving on to the High Renaissance in the second part of the course, the works of Botticelli, Leonardo, Michelangelo, the young Raphael and Giorgio Vasari are considered in the light of the Medici family political rule and artistic patronage. Through lectures, class discussions, and frequent site visits, the course aims at training students to study works of art in their original context, to recognize iconographic features and subjects and distinguish the different styles and techniques used by the artists.
Italian Language Courses
Due to the sequential nature of this program, you need to make satisfactory progress in your language classes and obtain a passing grade in each language level in order to advance to the following. If at any moment during each level your language instructor determines that you are at risk of not passing the class, you will be required to meet with the Academic Coordinator to discuss progress and conditions of continuation. For example, you may be required to attend daily language tutorial sessions, either individually or in small groups, and to complete extra homework. If you fail to make sufficient progress and obtain a passing grade in your language courses you may be subject to dismissal from the program.
Language tutorials are open and available to all students on the program and many students have found these tutorial sessions valuable to their learning progress.
You will register for your culture course prior to departure. The Academic Coordinator in Florence will e-mail you instructions on how to complete your course registration.
You must take all language courses for a letter grade. The culture course may be taken as pass/no pass and internships are graded on a pass/no pass basis only.
Grades for the summer are typically available by mid-September. Grades for the fall semester are typically available by late January and grades for the spring semester are typically available by late May.
For more information about grades, see the Academic Information
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.
Internship opportunities may be available for interested students. See the Extracurricular Activities section of this guide for more information.
Extending UCEAP Participation
You are encouraged to use the Florence language program to prepare for other UCEAP programs. You may extend to another UCEAP program in Italy only if you have met the requirements for that program and have the approval of the Academic Coordinator.
Options for Summer Students
If you would like to attend either a fall or year program after the summer program in Florence, apply to both programs and obtain the appropriate visa before departing the U.S. A visa is not needed to study in Italy for less than 90 days (Florence summer), but if you plan to participate in another Italy program in the fall or year, you will need one visa for both programs.
Options for Fall Students
You may extend to a subsequent program in Italy by meeting with the Academic Coordinator and submitting the Request for Final Approval to Extend (RFA) form or the Petition to Extend form before the November 1 deadline. The Academic Coordinator will determine the level of language competency obtained during the Florence program. In order to expedite the fall to spring extension process, complete the Departmental/College Preliminary Approval to Extend (DPA) form while still on your home UC campus. If you meet all program requirements and the extension is approved, you will need to work with the appropriate Italy Study Center in order to extend your residence permit, obtain host institution registration documents, and set up housing for the spring term.
Once your extension has been approved, notification will be sent to your home campus registrar, Financial Aid Office, and Campus EAP Office. For information about the steps you need to take with regard to finances, see the Extension of Participation
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
Get acquainted with your new host city, country, and culture before you leave the U.S. Travel guides and travel-related websites such as Lonely Planet
and Urban Lowdown
are excellent resources.
Keep up with current events by reading articles in newspapers, magazines, and journals. It is an exciting time to travel to Italy, and the more prepared you are, the more rewarding your experience will be. You can also check out the ACCENT Florence
Facebook page for up-to-date help on places to see and things to do in Florence.
- La Repubblica provides Italian national news daily.
- Ciao*Italy offers links to the most important daily national and local Italian newspapers.
- The Florentine is a bi-weekly English newspaper providing national and local news, sports, and local events.
Official Start Date & Mandatory Orientation
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 a mandatory orientation, during which you will learn importatnt information about academic, logicstic and cultural aspects of your stay in Florence. This introduction to life and study in Florence will help you adjust quickly to the new city and culture surrounding you. A walking tour of the city center will be included to acquaint you with the area.
The specific arrival date, time and meeting place for the orientation are listed in the UCEAP Predeparture Checklist. Bring your passport and residence permit papers in order to complete the check-in.
Travel to Your Host Country
Be sure to note the start date and time before puchasing an airline ticket!
You must make and pay for your own travel arrangements—even if you are on financial aid. The Financial Aid Office is not responsible for purchasing tickets. You are strongly urged to purchase changeable roundtrip airline tickets.
Detailed arrival information, including Study Center contact information and directions to Florence are provided in the Arrival Information Sheet in the online UCEAP Predeparture Checklist. Carry this information with you to Italy.
You are responsible for arriving at the specified meeting location in Florence on the required date and time for the official start of the program. The Official Start Date is provided in the program calendar on the UCEAP website. Students who fail to appear on the Official Start Date are subject to dismissal from the program (per the UCEAP Student Agreement).
The start date and calendar of a 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 and notify the UCEAP Systemwide Office of any changes to your mailing address, e-mail address, or telephone number. You must provide your flight information to ACCENT no fewer than 30 days prior to the departure date and inform ACCENT of any subsequent changes.
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 Facebook
Keep copies of all the forms you submit to the Italian consulate for your records!
Additional information about passports, visas, and other required documents is provided in the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
and in the UCEAP online Predeparture Checklist.
You need a passport at the time you apply for the program. If you do not already have a passport, you must apply for one immediately, and you may need to expedite it. The regular process can take approximately four to ten weeks.
Passports must be valid at least three months beyond the end date of the program. If your passport will expire before that time, you will need to obtain a new one before you can apply for a student visa.
It is recommended that you scan your passport and e-mail a copy to yourself. This will speed up the replacement process if it is lost or stolen.
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.
A visa is a stamp placed in your passport by the authorities of Italy. The visa grants you permission to reside and study in Italy. You may not study in Italy without a student visa unless you have Italian or EU citizenship. There is no fee for a study visa for Italy.
You must obtain a student visa in the U.S. prior to departure.
To apply for the visa:
- Determine the Italian consulate for your campus (listed in the UCEAP Predeparture Checklist)
- Collect the documents listed in the visa instructions of the UCEAP Predeparture Checklist.
- Submit the required documents, along with your passport, to the Italian consulate by the deadline indicated. This deadline is 60 days before the program start date. (You can apply no earlier than 90 days prior to the program start date.)
- You must apply in person.
Use the visa instructions and sample application in the UCEAP Predeparture Checklist. Note that there are specific instructions for different campuses. 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 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.
Summer quarter-only students are not required to obtain a visa. However, if you are planning to participate in another program in Italy for the fall or year, you will need to obtain a visa for the full period you will be studying in Italy.
If you are an EU citizen, you do not need a visa or a residence permit, but you will be required to register with the local authorities. Study Center staff will help you with this procedure.
Special Note for Non-U.S./Non-EU Citizens
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.
If you are a non-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 your return flight to the U.S.
Travel Before or After Your Program
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. If you are a U.S. citizen, you may travel in Europe for up to 90 days total before or after the validity date of your visa.
Non-U.S. citizens must check for their own requirements.
Residence Permit (Permesso di Soggiorno)
The residence permit cost is approximately €156; you will need to pay this in cash (euros) when you apply.
After your arrival in Florence, the Study Center staff will help you obtain a residence permit for foreigners (permesso 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 Florence. You will pay approximately €156 in cash when you apply for a residence permit.
The permesso di soggiorno is required for legal residence in Italy. Failure to secure the permesso di soggiorno will result in deportation. Neither ACCENT nor UCEAP will refund any fees paid for the program in this case, and no academic credit will be awarded.
Summer quarter students will not need a permesso di soggiorno, but will submit a “Declaration of Presence.” The Study Center staff will assist you with this.
Always personally carry your passport, visa, ticket, prescription medications, residence permit papers and money when traveling. Never put valuables is your checked luggage!
Luggage restrictions vary from airline to airline. Most carriers charge exorbitant fees for excess luggage or weight. Contact your airline for detailed information.
Identify each item of luggage on both the outside and inside with your name, home address, and address abroad. To avoid theft, never leave luggage unattended while traveling.
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Clothing that can be layered
- Prescription medication (for information on taking prescription medication abroad, see the Health chapter of this guide)
- Residence permit documents (semester students only)
- Voltage converter and plug adapter (see Electrical Appliances below)
- English/Italian dictionary
- Audio recording device
- Dressy outfit for formal occasions
- Vitamins (they are expensive in Italy)
- Familiar medical supplies for ailments such as sore throats, colds, and upset stomach
- Any sports attire you may need
- Mosquito repellent for the warmer months
Clothing in Italy generally is more expensive than in California, but there are many open-air markets in Florence where you can find good deals. Italians tend to dress up more than most Americans; you may want to keep up with new styles and purchase clothes while you are in Italy. The UCEAP Student Budget does not include funds for the purchase of clothing abroad.
Take clothing that is easy to care for, preferably clothes that can easily be drip-dried. All housing options are equipped with washing machines, but dryers are rare in Italy, so be prepared to hang-dry all of your clothes.
The voltage in Europe is 220–240 rather than the standard U.S. 110 volts, and the electrical outlets are different from those in the U.S. Some U.S. electrical devices will run on either voltage; others will require a converter to change the voltage from the European standard to U.S. standard. A plug adapter is needed to fit U.S. plugs into European outlets. All electrical appliances provide information about their voltage, usually on a label attached to or near the appliance cord. If your appliance indicates 110–240, you will only need a plug adapter in Italy. If it indicates only 110, you will need a voltage converter.
Converters do not work with hair dryers, alarm clocks, or electric razors. Consider purchasing these items when you arrive in Italy as they are inexpensive. Laptop computers require a plug adapter only; do not use a voltage converter with your laptop.
Because the cost of electricity abroad is high and improper use of appliances may damage both the electrical outlets and the appliances, it is a good policy to ask before using outlets.
Insurance for Personal Possessions
Understanding Your Finances
Your MyEAP Account & Budget
Travelers Checks are discouraged since American Express has closed all locations in Florence and banks will not accept them.
The Study Center has a computer lab with a wireless Internet connection, providing access to e-mail. You can telnet your UC account while abroad. In addition, there are many places throughout Florence where Internet access is available for a reasonable cost (about €2,50 per hour). Most places offer student discounts. One popular local Internet café is “The Internet Train,” which has multiple locations throughout the city center. Details will be provided after arrival. Internet access is not guaranteed in any housing assignment.
UCEAP strongly recommends that you bring your laptop, especially if it is enabled for wireless access. Make sure you have the right type of adapters/converters. There are wireless connections available in the Study Center as well as many of the classrooms. In most housing situations it is not possible to connect laptop computers to the Internet unless you purchase an Internet Key from one of the communications providers. These are available for a reasonable fee.
You can call the U.S. from Italy by dialing 001 + area code + phone number.
Pay phones are located throughout the city. Most of the pay phones in Florence work on a phone card system. Prepaid Italian phone cards (scheda telefonica) are available at the post office, tobacco shops (tabacchi), and cafés. Phone cards can be economical, giving callers to U.S. landlines up to 500 minutes for €5. Note that 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. The calling cards purchased in Italy are less expensive and more effective. The “Europa” and “USA” 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.
You are advised to purchase a cell phone either from a returning Italy student at your campus or after arriving in Italy. Cell phones are particularly useful for emergencies. The phones may be sold after the term to future Italy students at home. Cell phones from the U.S. are costly to operate abroad unless they are capable of using an Italian SIM card. If you already own a smartphone, check with your provider about using it abroad. There may be inexpensive options available.
One of the most popular means of communication is using the Internet to make phone calls at an inexpensive rate. Skype is a free option for calling from computer to computer through the Internet. Visit Skype online
for more information. SkypeOut is a Skype service through which you or your parents can charge the account to make calls to regular landlines and cell phones. Google Voice
is another option for Internet calls offering competitive rates.
You are advised to buy a headset in the U.S., where electronics generally cost less.
During orientation, you will receive detailed information about the various ways to call home, recommended phone cards and buying a cell phone in Italy.
Mail service to Italy can take as long as one month.
Use DHL or FedEx to send packages to Italy because regular express mail delivery is not guaranteed outside the U.S. Keep in mind that a Value Added Tax (VAT) of at least 20 percent will be charged upon arrival if the package is declared with a value (insured packages, new merchandise, etc.). It is preferable not to have packages—especially electronics—sent to you in Italy because of delays and fees. When in doubt, ask the Study Center staff for assistance.
Do not have medications mailed to you, including vitamins. They will be held at customs, and you may be fined.
Postage stamps may be purchased at the post office or more commonly at tobacconists where the “T” for tabacchi sign is displayed. Telegrams can be sent from any post office.
You may have important letters, packages, and documents sent to the ACCENT/ UC Study Center in Florence. Address them as follows:
c/o ACCENT/UC Florence Study Center
Piazza Santo Spirito, 10
50125 Florence, Italy
The Study Center will not pay shipping or customs fees for students.
Privately owned apartments vary in size and layout and are located throughout Florence. Apartments have a combination of single, double and triple bedrooms (4–7 people on average). Each bedroom is furnished with beds, a closet or armoire, sheets, pillows, blankets and towels. Kitchen facilities include a stove, refrigerator, cooking utensils, and dishes. Kitchen and bathroom facilities are shared by everyone in the apartment. All of the student apartments are located in and around the center of Florence, within a 30- to 40-minute walk or bus ride from the Study Center.
Living with an Italian family is an excellent way of absorbing Italian language and culture; it is an opportunity designed to enrich your stay. The homestay experience allows you direct contact with all aspects of Italian society.
Florentine hosts are carefully screened by ACCENT and are not necessarily traditional families, but may be single parents, retirees, or widows. Students are placed in double or single rooms in homes within the Florence city limits, with commutes to classes of approximately 25 to 40 minutes by foot or public transportation.
In the homestay, you will be entitled to do one load of laundry per week. A normal load is considered to be approximately 5 kilos (11 pounds). Wireless Internet is not provided or available in the homestay, but you may rent a USB Internet access key to be used at your own expense.
Applying for Housing
You are required to live in UCEAP-sponsored housing. Detailed housing information is provided in your online Predeparture Checklist. Read the housing information and complete the housing preference form. You will choose which type of housing you prefer (shared apartment or a homestay). The housing preference form must be returned to ACCENT by the deadline. Your first preference is not guaranteed.
All housing placements are final for the entire duration of the program. Read the housing descriptions and list your choices in order of preference. Ask questions if there is something that you do not understand. If you do not return your housing preference form by the deadline, you will be assigned a place in whichever housing option remains available.
You will receive an e-mail 2–4 weeks prior to your departure that will state your housing assignment. Specific housing details (e.g., room assignments, address, and roommates) will be communicated when you arrive in Florence. Most students will stay in privately owned, shared apartments.
Upon arrival in Florence, you will receive detailed information regarding your housing. You will be responsible for your own transportation to your accommodations. If you arrive before the official arrival date, you will be responsible for arranging your own accommodations until the program starts.
Paying for Housing
Your housing costs are included in your UCEAP fees. The UCEAP Student Budget, located on the UCEAP website, provides an estimate of the costs. The actual cost of each option is listed in the UCEAP Florence Housing Information sheet included in your online Predeparture Checklist. The housing cost in the UCEAP Student Budget is based on rooms in privately owned, shared apartments. If you choose other housing, your UCEAP student account will be adjusted accordingly. Your UCEAP account will be charged the entire cost of your rent, regardless of your housing option. Amounts are always listed in euros on the housing information sheet, but you will be billed in U.S. dollars at the applicable exchange rate at the time of billing.
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 cancellation fees are outlined in the Predeparture Checklist as well as the UCEAP Student Budget.
Overnight guests are prohibited by Italian law. The ACCENT staff can provide information about hostels and hotels in the area for visitors. You may have visitors to your apartment but they are not allowed to stay after midnight. Disciplinary action, which may include dismissal from UCEAP, will be taken if you are found to have guests in your apartment after midnight. Please note that all occupants in an apartment are held responsible if one roommate hosts a guest after midnight.
Living in Florence
Living in a centuries-old city is a memorable experience for visitors to Italy, but with the beauty and history there is a small price to pay; you will not have all the conveniences of a UC campus. Although the Florence Study Center is well equipped, you may need to be more flexible and patient, particularly with regard to computer availability. Apartments may not have elevators, so be prepared to get some exercise on the stairs.
Meals in modest restaurants range from about €19 to €30, while meals in reasonably good restaurants run from about €30 to €50 per person. Food expenses are generally higher in Italy than they are in California. Many students get together to prepare meals at home.
If you live in a homestay, you will receive breakfast daily and dinner four nights a week. Use of the stovetop and oven will not be allowed. You will have space to store food in the refrigerator and you will be allowed to use small appliances such as a toaster, kettle, and microwave oven.
Getting around Florence can be confusing at first, but don’t worry; it will eventually become second nature. Just remember to find a reference point in the city (like the Duomo) so you can always orient yourself. It’s also okay to get lost on occasion (if time permits) because finding your way around the city is one of the best ways to learn about it.
The typical modes of transportation in Florence are walking or taking the bus. You can purchase a monthly bus pass for €35. Make sure you ask for the Abbonamento Mensile (only EU citizens can get the student discounted monthly pass; non-EU citizens are not eligible). You can purchase individual tickets for €1,20 at any Tabacchi, or a card for 10 rides for €10. Riding the bus without a properly validated ticket is illegal and can incur hefty fines, and also gives Italians a bad impression of foreigners. Remember, we are all ambassadors of our home country as well as guests in Florence.
For more information regarding scheduling and rates for local bus transportation, go to www.ataf.net
Travel throughout Italy
The Touring Club Italiano (TCI) publishes good Italian travel guides. These books summarize the geography and history of each area and provide the locations and details about important monuments. They include good maps and bibliographies. Other recommended guides are Blue Guides to Rome, South Italy, North Italy, Florence, and Venice. The UC/ACCENT Study Center also has guidebooks for loan.
The ACCENT/UC Study Center offers several student-oriented activities to get you involved in the community.
In Florence you will have a very unique experience thanks to its rich cultural and artistic history. The peak of its glory was in the Renaissance, which has spilled over into today, and it is evident in the architecture and artwork that surrounds you. This is an ideal setting to learn in—both inside and outside the classroom.
There are clubs, sponsored activities, and various facilities available in the community, but you must take the initiative to find them. There are many museums that highlight different mediums, including art, history, science, and even shoes! Living and learning in Florence is a very hands-on experience; one you’re not likely to forget!
Students with Disabilities
If needed, tutors are available in Florence. Professors are very willing to give extra time for exams and will assist students in every way possible.
Most parts of the Florence city center have small cobblestones or large paving stones which can be challenging for wheelchair users. Cars may be parked on the sidewalks, which are usually narrow and may not have ramps. Medieval and most historical buildings in Florence are exempt from compliance with the Italian Disabilities Act.
The UCEAP student budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad
You are strongly encouraged to get actively involved in the community, get to know locals, and practice your Italian through volunteer activities. The ACCENT/UC Florence Study Center has established opportunities for you to engage in a “service learning” project. You can learn while contributing to the local community.
It may be possible to turn one of these activities into an internship. You would be engaged in a writing project, performing a minimum number of required work hours, and completing a final project. Internship availability may vary from semester to semester. Students typically earn 2.0 units for internship work.
The following are some of the opportunities available.
- catalogue original documents from the Medici era with the Medici Archive Project at the Archivio di Stato
- assist with the photographic archive for the neighborhood association Il Cortile
- support event planning and live performance recordings with the Accademia della Musica in Sesto Fiorentino
- assist with the care, preservation and restoration of beauty in Florence with Il Quadrifoglio and Angeli del bello
- work on immigration and cultural integration with Cospe
- work with local associations for after-school educational activities with teens
- serve meals in a soup kitchen
- help to organize a food bank or a “charity market”
- teach English language and culture to schoolchildren
- assist in feline colonies in the city
You must print your UCEAP Insurance Card
to submit with your residence permit documents when you check-in upon arrival in Florence. Keep a copy of this card with you at all times.
You must pay for health services at the time they are rendered. You can process a refund online through the UCEAP claims process. Ask the local staff. Reimbursement may take from four to six weeks from receipt.
Most students expect to quickly adapt to their new culture—and they need to adjust rapidly if they are to effectively meet the academic demands placed upon them. Culture shock is a normal developmental phase of adjustment to a new cultural environment. It is not a psychological disorder. Most students who experience culture shock function reasonably well under the stress and are able to keep up with the responsibilities of school and everyday life. Culture shock is usually transitory—lasting a couple of weeks—and does not imply mental illness or an inability to cope. However, there are occasions when the experience of culture shock can stir up deeper emotional issues such as suicidal thoughts. These reactions should not be ignored; if they persist, a student needs to immediately seek help.
Moving to a different country for an academic term can mean the loss of a support network, a routine, and a familiar environment. A student’s secure sense of identity can also be lost. Similar transitional challenges occur when the student is ending the study abroad experience and getting ready to return home.
If you find that you cannot manage a healthy transition, contact the local staff for help in setting up appointments and paying directly for services through the UCEAP insurance.
Safety issues will be discussed in your orientation after you arrive in Florence.
In case of an emergency (personal medical emergency, political unrest, etc.), it is important that you are prepared and that you communicate immediately with the ACCENT staff and follow all advice you receive.
The crime rate in Florence is low, but petty crime can be a problem. Take normal precautions against petty street crime at crowded tourist sites (Ponte Vecchio, major squares, cathedrals, Uffizi Gallery), open markets (Parcellino, San Lorenzo), major train stations (Santa Maria Novella), and on public buses. Avoid public parks and gardens at night, especially Cascine.
- Never carry your wallet, passport, or other valuables in the outside or back pocket of your backpack or clothes, and never leave your personal belongings unattended.
- Be especially careful in crowded areas and on buses and trains. Purse snatchers have been known to slash purse shoulder straps. Thieves often work in pairs; one distracts while the other pickpockets. Make a copy of the first page of your passport to use as a form of ID; leave your actual passport safe in your room. In case your passport is lost or stolen, immediately notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, local authorities, and the ACCENT staff.
You are responsible for all of your belongings both inside and outside of program housing. Lock all windows and doors whenever you leave your housing, regardless of how long you will be gone or how far you will be going. Many thefts have occurred due to negligence in securing accommodations.
Check restaurant and bar bills carefully; foreigners are sometimes overcharged. Always request a menu to review prices. There is a high occurrence of credit card fraud in Florence. Check your statements regularly.
The police forces in Florence are well trained and have adequate resources to offer good assistance. Response times are efficient in most areas of the city.
There are occasional large-scale protests in the city. Demonstrators generally do not turn violent, although vandalism is sometimes a concern. Rallies and strikes can disrupt public transportation. Avoid large crowds and demonstrations as a precaution.
Traffic & Transportation Safety
Excessive Drinking & Safety
Most of the safety problems students have experienced while abroad are related to excessive drinking. You are expected to abide by the UCEAP Substance Abuse Policy
Some people are more vulnerable to the immediate effects of alcohol than others. Drinking alcoholic beverages significantly increases risks to health and safety. It causes you to lose all common sense when it come to your own personal safety. It affects your judgment and impairs your ability to judge situations and take appropriate actions, which can make you a target for crime. You will be particularly vulnerable to robbery and physical and sexual assault.
If you choose to drink, do so responsibly. Criminals are known to target vulnerable individuals whose judgment is impaired by intoxication.
- Always watch your beverage. Instances of drink spiking have been reported.
- Do not leave drinks unattended in bars and nightclubs. Drugs can easily be mixed into drinks when unattended. These drugs can disorient you, dramatically impair your judgment, or cause you to lose consciousness. Once you lose sight of your drink, do not continue drinking.
UCEAP Contingency Planning
If you are 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
Fire Department .....................................115
Carabinieri (Military Police) .....................112
U.S. Consulate in Florence
Lungarno Vespucci, 38
50123 Florence, ITALY
Phone: (+39) 055-266-951 (2–4 p.m.)
Fax: (+39) 055-215-550
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