Approx. Time Difference
Add 9 hrs
- Summer Quarter
- Winter 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.
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.
Program 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 onsite 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
Bookmark your Participants program page. This resource lists requirements and policies you need to know before you go abroad, including your Pre-Departure 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 enroll in two sequential Italian language courses, and one Italian culture course worth 4 UC quarter units (2.7 semester units). You will receive a total of 14 UC quarter units (9.3 semester units) on the program. 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 language course levels correlate roughly with the lower-division elementary and intermediate designations at UC. Each language course is 6 UC quarter units (4 semester units) each. You will enroll in three sequential Italian language courses and one Italian culture course, worth 4.5 UC quarter units (3 semester units). You will receive a total of 22.5 UC quarter units (15 semester units) for the program. If you begin at levels five or six, an advanced Italian language course may be available.
During the fall semester, the culture course will run for the full 15 weeks of the program. During the spring semester, the culture course will be completed within the first 10 weeks. During the last 5 weeks you will have the option of doing a directed study worth 2 UC quarter units (1.3 semester units). The directed study will meet for one hour per week and you will complete a research project that expands on one of the culture courses taught on the program. The instructor for the directed study will work with you on developing an appropriate research topic.
Winter Quarter Program
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 language course levels correlate roughly with the lower-division elementary and intermediate designations at UC. Each language course is worth 6 UC quarter units., You will enroll in two sequential Italian language courses and one Italian culture course, worth 4.5 UC quarter units. You will receive a total of 16.5 UC quarter units for the program. If you begin at levels five or six, an advanced Italian language course may be available.
You are allowed one absence per class on the summer quarter program. You are allowed two absences per class on the winter quarter and fall/spring 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
- Art and Culture in Renaissance Florence
- Florence in Cinema
- ‘What's Love Got to Do with it?’ The Social History of Quattrocento Florence
- The Lure of Italy from the Grand Tour to Mass Tourism
- History of Culture and Food in Italy
- Telling Stories in Medieval and Renaissance Italian Art
- Humor and Jokes in Tuscan and Italian Literature and Culture
- Michelangelo: Art, Persona, and Politics in Renaissance Italy
- Machiavelli & Friends
Extended Course descriptions for the Italian Culture Courses can be found here.
Italian Language Courses
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.
Due to the sequential nature of this program, you need to make satisfactory progress in your language classes and obtain a passing grade (D or above) 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.
Extended course descriptions for the Italian Language Courses can be found here.
You will register for your culture course prior to departure. The Academic Coordinator in Florence will send you an e-mail with 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 are typically available according to the following timeline:
Summer Quarter- mid-September
Fall Semester- late January
Winter Quarter- late April
Spring Semester- late May
For general information about grades, see the Academic Information
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.
Internship opportunities may be available for interested students on the winter quarter or fall/spring semester programs. See the Internship Tab
on the Our Programs page and 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
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.
- 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.
- La Repubblica provides Italian national news daily.
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 Pre-Departure Checklist. Bring your passport and residence permit papers in order to complete the check-in.
Travel to Your Host Country
The UCEAP program budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
UCEAP strongly recommends purchasing changeable round trip fares, which will allow you to make changes to your return flight for a fee. Carefully research airfare rules prior to purchasing a flight. Standby and courier fares are not appropriate. Plan for this expense. Neither UCEAP nor the Financial Aid office will reserve or pay for your ticket. If you are on financial aid, you will need to purchase a plane ticket before you receive a financial aid disbursement.
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 Pre-Departure Checklist (PDC). 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
Financial Aid Students
Your financial aid package is based partly on the UCEAP Program Budget for the program. The estimated round-trip airfare amount is based on the cost of a changeable student fare to your host country. If your independent travel costs are greater than the airfare estimate in the UCEAP Program Budget, notify your financial aid counselors. Neither UCEAP nor the Financial Aid Office can guarantee that the additional cost will be funded by financial aid.
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 Pre-Departure 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.
Students participating in the fall or spring semester program must obtain a student visa in the U.S. prior to departure.
Summer and Winter quarter-only students are not required to obtain a visa. However, if you are planning to participate in another program in Italy prior to or immediately following one of these programs, you will need to obtain a visa for the full period you will be studying in Italy.
To apply for the visa:
- Determine the Italian consulate for your campus (listed in the UCEAP Pre-Departure Checklist)
- Collect the documents listed in the visa instructions of the UCEAP Pre-Departure Checklist.
- Submit the required documents, along with your passport, by the deadline indicated.
- The requirements and instructions are different for the Los Angeles and San Francisco consulates.
Use the visa instructions and sample application in the UCEAP Pre-Departure 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. To avoid delays (and last minute panic) apply as early as possible for your visa.
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
If you are required to obtain a visa for 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 €157; 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 Pre-Departure Checklist for specific requirements. You must have all of these documents ready to submit upon your arrival in Florence. You will pay approximately €157 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.
AB540 students should consult an immigration attorney to evaluate the risks of potentially being unable to re-enter the United States and any impact that participation in UCEAP might have on any deferred action applications.
The UCEAP Program Budget does not include funds to purchase clothing abroad.
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
Consider having additional protections for your property, as in spite of your best efforts, it is still possible to experience loss, theft, or accidents that will damage your belongings while traveling. Talk to your parents and analyze their family homeowners’ insurance to determine whether the items brought or bought while abroad are covered by their policy.
UCEAP's travel insurance policy offers limited personal property coverage. UCEAP strongly recommends you to examine the details of the UCEAP travel insurance benefits and to purchase additional property insurance coverage, especially to protect high cost items such as laptop computers, MP3 players, and other valuables. Review the policy carefully before departure and determine if it provides adequate coverage for your possessions before you experience a loss.
You may decide to purchase additional coverage, especially for high-value electronics (e.g., computer, tablets, camera, etc.). If you decide to do so, purchase supplemental coverage before departure because most theft occurs in the airport or while moving into housing. The host 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. Avoid wearing expensive clothing or jewelry and going to questionable parts of the city, especially at night or when alone. Minimize your vulnerability by staying in control of your drinking and your behavior. Do not invite casual acquaintances or strangers home.
UCEAP strongly recommends purchasing changeable round trip fares, which will allow you to make changes to your return flight for a fee. Carefully research airfare rules prior to purchasing a flight. Standby and courier fares are not appropriate. Plan for this expense. If you do not make round-trip arrangements, be sure to book a return flight with plenty of lead time once abroad. Flights to the U.S. fill up fast and economy-fare seats are booked early.
Most airline tickets are good for one year only. When buying round-trip tickets, purchase a ticket that allows changes to the return date.
The estimated airfare amount in the UCEAP Program Budget is based on the cost of a changeable round-trip student ticket.
Understanding Your Finances
It is important that you carefully read all of the information available in the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad and discuss it with the person who will assist you with your finances while you are abroad.
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
- Who Can and How to make payments to UCEAP
- UCEAP student account information(what fees do I pay to UCEAP and what fees do I pay out of pocket?)
- 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.)
Your MyEAP Account & Budget
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, Visa, American Express, or Discover). The fees that you owe UCEAP will be applied to your account after your program pre-departure 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 Program Budget and Payment Schedule located on the second page of your UCEAP Program Budget
. Program fees are subject to change.
Your UCEAP Program 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 Program Budget frequently. The Payment Schedule is on the second page of the UCEAP Program Budget.
- Download and print your UCEAP Program Budget and Payment Schedule.
- Note the deadlines on the Payment Schedule.
- Give the UCEAP Program Budget and Payment Schedule 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.
Refund of Credit balances and Financial Aid Disbursements:
If you are signed up for Direct Deposit on your UC campus, it is not linked to your MyEAP account. You must sign up for eRefund with UCEAP to receive direct deposits from your MyEAP account. For more information, see the UCEAP eRefund Instructions
The euro (abbreviated EUR or €) is the official currency unit of Italy and most nations of the European Union. The European Central Bank
website provides more information.
Obtain enough euros from your bank (about €400) prior to departure to cover the first few days in Italy. This will cover your residence permit (€157), food, and other incidentals. You should also carry a small amount of money in U.S. dollars for use while traveling.
You cannot use American checks in Italy. If anyone mails funds to you from the U.S., be sure the funds are sent in the form of an international money order. A better way to get money sent to you is through Western Union, but the best method is to have funds deposited into a U.S. bank account and then withdraw funds in Italy with an ATM card.
Exchanging Money After Arrival
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. A passport is required to exchange money. Cashing travelers checks at a bank generally entails a fee of about €8.
For travel to countries that do not use euros, you will get the best exchange rate if you use your ATM card to get cash once you arrive at your destination.
Be sure to notify your bank that you will be living in Italy and confirm that you will be able to withdraw cash with your ATM card in Europe.
Using an ATM in Italy is as easy as it is at home. You can use ATMs at most Italian national bank branches. ATM cards provide a convenient way to get cash, make deposits and transfers, and verify account balances.
Ask your home bank:
- Do they have a partner bank in Italy?
- Will I be able to access my account while abroad?
- Will my PIN (personal identification number) work and will I 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.
Recently students have been reporting that they have had good experience using a debit/ATM card from Charles Schwab. They have an account that has no minimum balance and does not charge ATM fees. We have also heard good reports about Capital One. Do your own research and shop around.
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.
It is strongly recommended that you take a major credit card to Italy. You may also want to take an additional credit card reserved only for emergency use. Visa and MasterCard tend to be more widely accepted in Italy than American Express (AmEx). Check with your credit card company about the cost of using your card abroad, as “foreign transaction fees” can be expensive. However, some companies are now offering competitive “no fee” cards.
Many businesses in Europe now accept only credit cards that have a chip embedded in them. Ask your credit card company if you can get a card with a chip.
You can arrange to use your Visa or MasterCard to obtain a cash advance; however, the interest rates are usually quite high.. Check with your credit card company to see what services are offered and what the rates are.
Notify your credit card company that you will be studying abroad so that your card does not get blocked for suspicious use.
Travelers Checks are discouraged since American Express has closed all locations in Florence and banks will not accept them.
Recently there has been a high occurance of ATM cards being cloned in Florence. This will be covered during your onsite orientation, and you will be given the names of banks and ATMs to avoid.
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 have a cell phone while studying abroad. Aside from being the most convenient way to communicate, they are particularly useful for emergencies. If you own a smartphone, check with your provider about using it abroad. There may be inexpensive options available.
You can purchase a cell phone either from a returning Italy student at your campus or after arriving in Italy, and then 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. There are apps available for smartphones that enable very cheap or even free communication such as Viber
. (Read all information and contracts before signing up for any apps.)
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 your on-site 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 30 to 45 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.
Transportation To and From Housing
Depending on the location of your housing you may need to purchase a bus pass. Monthly bus passes cost approximately 35 euros; this is included in the student budget. You will learn more about this transportation during the on-site orientation.
Applying for Housing
You are required to live in UCEAP-sponsored housing. Detailed housing information is provided in your online Pre-Departure 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 Pre-Departure Checklist (PDC). 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 Pre-Departure Checklist. The ACCENT cancellation fees are outlined in the Pre-Departure 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 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.
The UCEAP program budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
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
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. Opportunities for travel are plentiful and UCEAP does not wish to discourage you from taking advantage of them. However, it is expected that you will attend all class sessions and adhere to your program’s absentee policy at all times. As stipulated in the UCEAP Student Agreement, you must regularly attend all classes for which you are registered and conform to all applicable rules.
Failure to abide by UCEAP travel guidelines or the Student Agreement is cause for dismissal from the program.
You can use Trenitalia trains to travel throughout Italy. Before boarding, purchase tickets by cash or credit card from automatic machines, ticket agents at the station, or travel agents in the city. You must validate the ticket at a machine in the station before boarding the train. There are fines for traveling without a validated ticket; the amount depends on the length of the trip.
Complete train schedules can be viewed online on the Trenitalia website
. They are also posted at the train station, and hard-copy train schedules (national and international connections) are available at most newspaper stands for approximately €5. You can purchase discounted tickets on the Trenitalia website and in train stations and travel agencies. These are generally limited and must be purchased in advance. See the “Promozioni e Offerte”
section of the Trenitalia website for more information.
You may want to purchase a Carte Verde
card, which entitles all travelers up to 26 years of age to a 10 percent discount on all regular national train tickets and a 25 percent discount on all European train tickets. You can purchase cards for approximately €40 at travel agencies or a Trenitalia ticket office in Italy.
Eurail passes must be purchased in the U.S. (either before departure or by someone in the U.S. once you are abroad).
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.
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.
Join sports, musical, theater, or arts groups; volunteer at local organizations; attend lectures and receptions held in academic and community circles; and get the most out of your time abroad.
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
Contact the UCEAP Operations Specialist if you need special accommodations. All disability-related information will be treated confidentially. Advance planning is critial. Budget for possible costs of accommodations as you are responsible to pay for them at the time of delivery.
While in Italy, students with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation different from what is found in the United States. Italy’s narrow cobbled streets and storied monuments can pose an issue for students with physical disabilities. Many Italian sidewalks lack ramps, some Italian streets lack sidewalks altogether, or for instance in the case of Venice, may feature staircases and narrow pedestrian bridges. While some major sights have put time and planning into ensuring accessibility, there are others that lack ramps, elevators, or handicap-accessible bathrooms. Most, but not all, train stations in Italy have accommodations for those traveling in wheelchairs. With advance notice, personal assistance can be provided to a person with a disability traveling through a particular station. More information is available at Trenitalia's website
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.
For more information:
When you leave your host city for more than 24 hours, you must complete the online sign out through your MyEAP account. Click on Travel Signout and complete all required fields. During an emergency (abroad or in the U.S.), it is important for UCEAP officials to know where to reach you promptly.
The UCEAP program budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
Urban centers such as Rome, Bologna, and Florence, are generally tolerant of LGBT individuals. Students may face isolated incidents of discrimination throughout the country, particularly in more conservative, rural areas. Smaller communities may be less welcoming, and residents may be more likely to articulate their disapproval. Isolated cases of anti-gay hate crimes are also always possible, though much less likely.
Students may face social discrimination in a variety of situations. Students living with host-families should exercise discretion, as acceptance of LGBT persons may vary from family to family.
With its minimal protections or laws supporting its LGBT community, Italy’s legal situation is very similar to many states in the United States.The fact that openly LGBT persons are active in Italy’s political system underscores a growing acceptance in the country.
For more information,
Working & Volunteer Opportunities
With a study visa, you are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week. Past UCEAP participants have worked as English language teachers, babysitters, and waiters.
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
If you are sick or injured, 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 of your correctly completed claim form and supporting documentation.
Before you travel:
There is no deductible or co-insurance but the travel insurance works on a reimbursement basis. You can submit a claim for a refund of covered expenses to the UCEAP insurance carrier.
Do not assume that if you seek medical care abroad for a covered illness or injury that the local hospital will bill your insurance. Generally, hospitals around the world, including the US, do not bill insurance companies (unless there is a special arrangement with a local hospital in your UCEAP country). It is the patient's responsibility to inquire with the hospital, at the time of service, and make arrangements to pay any outstanding bills. Payment for medical services abroad is ultimately your responsibility.
Coverage begins 14 days before the official start date of your UCEAP program term. Coverage ends 31 days after the official end of the UCEAP program term. Your UCEAP travel insurance does not include coverage for preventative care, checkups, and vaccinations.
For Questions about Coverage, Benefits and Claims
ACI at email@example.com.
The standard of medical care in Italy is good, though it may vary in certain cities, especially in more remote areas.
You will receive detailed medical information at the orientation meeting upon arrival. In all host cities, there are lists of general practitioners and specialists that are recommended to students. If you are sick or injured, you can ask local staff for help in making an appointment. You must pay for health services at the time they are rendered.
The UCEAP travel insurance will refund eligible expenses after a claim process is started. 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 payable by check in US dollars may take four to six weeks.
Arriving in a new country is a very busy time and there are a lot of changes to go through. There are differences in food, weather and customs to cope with. In this type of situation, with all its stresses, you may find yourself paying less attention than usual to your health.
Existing health problems can also be made worse by the effects of adjusting to unfamiliar food, a different climate and the emotional strains of being away from home. It can be easy to concentrate on your studies and forget about taking care of yourself.
Inform yourself before you travel. Just as language and currency vary around the world, so does medical care. Read the Health chapter
of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
and your Program Guide for important information to plan for a healthy stay abroad and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Traveler's Health
web page for health risks present in the country where you will be studying. Know what to do if you get sick.
Good basic personal hygiene and hand washing are critical to help prevent the spread of illness and disease. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially before eating.
Community sanitation is generally good. Health concerns related to food and beverages are minimal.
If you feel sick, are injured, or have a medical emergency, seek medical attention and contact the Study Center immediately. The Study Center can recommend clinics and English-speaking general practitioners and specialists, assist with the UCEAP travel insurance reimbursement claim 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 cannot get American prescriptions filled in Italy. Italian pharmacies will not dispense drugs without a prescription from a doctor licensed to practice in Italy. Antibiotics will not be dispensed without a prescription from a local doctor.
Most common over-the-counter medications can be obtained at Italian pharmacies. Discuss any medical or health concerns with your doctor before departure. Have a plan in place before departure.
- Although you should always travel with a copy of your prescription from your U.S. doctor, many pharmacies in other countries will only fill prescriptions written in that country.
- If you need a refill while abroad, you must see a local doctor to get a similar prescription that a local pharmacy will fill. It will be critical to have a letter from a U.S. doctor during this appointment explaining your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen.
- In some cases, the local physician will need to confirm your diagnosis before issuing a prescription. Note that a doctor's visit to get refills may not be covered by the UCEAP travel insurance. . If you need to find out if this appointment would be covered by the UCEAP travel insurance, contact ACI at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the UCEAP travel insurance, refer to your UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, or your pre-departure checklist, Insurance tab.
- Most countries will only allow quantities of medication for personal use; only a 30- or 90-day supply.
- Talk to your doctor to see whether he/she can prescribe an adequate supply of your prescription medication to last through the end of the program. Ask your doctor how to adjust your dosage to adjust to time zone changes.
- Always carry medications in their original containers.
- Have a letter from the prescribing physician indicating your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen.
Traveling with prescription medications
- Generally, amphetamines (e.g., Adderall, Vyvanse) are illegal in other countries. Talk to your doctor immediately to switch you to another medication.
- If you are taking psychotropic medications (e.g., Adderall, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Prozac, Vyvanse, etc.), find out whether they are legal in your UCEAP country before your UCEAP program starts.
- Talk to your doctor. If intending to travel with a prescription containing controlled substances, review medication regulations in official government sites. Addresses and excerpted national statutes for most countries can be found at the International Narcotics Control Board. You can also check your UCEAP Program Guide, Prescription Medications section for direct links.
- Pack your prescription medications, in original containers, in your carry-on luggage. Do not pack the medications in your checked luggage.
- Carry copies of all prescriptions, including the generic names for medications.
- Have a letter on letterhead from the prescribing physician for all prescribed medications, indicating your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen. This is extremely important in case you need treatment or a medication refill abroad.
- Leave a copy of the written prescriptions at home with a friend or relative.
If your particular medication cannot be taken into the country in quantities to last through your stay, talk to your doctor. If you need to switch prescriptions, your doctor may need to make changes to your medication at least 3-6 months before departure, so you can have time to consult with your doctor on any resulting complications. The letter from your doctor indicating condition, treatment and medication regimen, can help a local physician to assess you and to consider reissuing your prescription provided it is licensed in your UCEAP country. Note that the local doctor's appointment for medication refill may not be covered by the UCEAP travel insurance. Consult with ACI, email@example.com
. Read more in the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Health section
Your mental health is important to us all. Managing your mental health while studying abroad – whether or not you have a history of anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions – is something every person must think about when going abroad. Being away from usual stress at home can sometimes be a relief when abroad; experiencing new adventures can be a useful distraction. You will also have times when you feel confused, uncomfortable, annoyed, and many of the same emotions that you manage in your daily life at home. Read the Mobility International tips, Ups and Downs of International Travel
Cultural adjustment and homesickness are normal. They are usually transitory—lasting a couple of weeks—and do not imply mental illness or an inability to cope. Most students who experience culture adjustment function reasonably well under the stress and are able to keep up with the responsibilities of school and everyday life.
If you are currently in treatment in the U.S., it is extremely important to discuss your plans to go abroad with your doctor. If you are taking a prescription medication, talk with your prescribing physician well in advance about getting the supply you need for going abroad. For information about traveling with medications, refer to the Prescription Medications section in this guide.
The UCEAP travel insurance policy covers outpatient visits as any other illness up to $500,000; there is no co-pay or deductible, and you can make an appointment with any doctor.
Plan and budget to pay up front. Doctors, hospitals, and clinics will require you to pay bills at the time of treatment. You must then submit receipts to the UCEAP insurance company for reimbursement. If you have questions about your UCEAP travel insurance benefits contact ACI at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about the claims process, access Insurance Claims Process
Students with severe food allergies should take precautions, as the cuisine may include ingredients that can cause anaphylaxis in those affected. A language barrier increases the risks associated with severe food allergies.
Precautions to take include:
For more information, read the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
, Health chapter
, Allergies section.
Specific safety issues and tips, such as which areas of your host city to avoid, will be covered in your orientation after you arrive in Italy.
It is recommended that you purchase a cell phone for use abroad, especially for emergencies. (Refer to the Communications Abroad chapter in this guide). The Study Center has an emergency plan for locating all students if necessary. Update your local contact information in MyEAP so UCEAP can reach you in case of an emergency.
There are strategies you can practice anywhere in the world to minimize your risks. Personal safety starts with awareness. To be alert to potential dangers and risks to your well-being, you need to know what is going on in your immediate environment. The choices you make about behavior, attire, travel, personal property, relationships, etc., can directly influence your exposure to risk. Follow your instincts. If a situation is uncomfortable, remove yourself from the situation. Carry official ID and a charged cell phone with you at all times. Follow safety advice carefully.
Information on Italian Criminal Laws and Procedures
While in Italy, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. A fundamental principle of Italian law is that neither an Italian citizen nor a foreigner can plead ignorance of the law as an excuse for not complying with the law. It is important that you inform yourself before arriving in Italy.
Arrest notifications in Italy
While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in that country, others may not. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request calmly and politely that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if you are arrested or detained.
You play an active role in protecting your personal health, safety, and well-being.
Staying safe in another country is similar to staying safe in a large U.S. city. Understand the potential threats, know which neighborhoods to avoid, and remain vigilant (pay attention to your surroundings; do not walk around while talking on the phone or while listening to music).
If you will be traveling, think about how you are getting to your destination and/or any travel inside a country. Plan your itinerary carefully, let your friends and relatives know where you will be, and research the safest way to travel. Be proactive about your safety. Be prepared.
The University of California Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) has established policies and procedures and contracted with emergency service and security providers, to help you minimize your risk exposure and enhance your safety.
Steps to manage or minimize risk and avoid being a victim of a crime:
- Assess your surroundings.
- Remain aware at all times. Do not walk around talking on the phone or listening to music on your headphones.
- Be attentive to what is unusual or threatening. Trust your "gut feelings"; if you feel threatened, leave the area immediately and find somewhere more secure.
- Research potential risks you can encounter while traveling.
- Increase your safety and reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of crime by staying on top of your drinking.
- Practice the buddy system, which promotes safety. This system helps ensure that you, and a partner, will look out for each other. Choose your buddy wisely. The ideal buddy should feel that the buddy system is very important. If you are having a problem, your buddy can help to alert others and get you to safety.
- Have a communication plan. Who will you call on site if you are facing an emergency? Do your friends and relatives know how to reach you when you are traveling?
Putting yourself, fellow students, or the reputation of the program at risk is cause for dismissal from UCEAP.
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.
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.
- There has been a high occurance of ATM cards being cloned in Florence. This will be covered during your onsite orientation, and you will be given the names of banks and ATMs to avoid.
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.
Avoid large crowds and demonstrations. Civil and political demonstrations and protests are common throughout Italy and can occur with little notice. Most protests concern governmental actions and foreign policy issues. Left-wing, anti-war, and anti-globalization demonstrations are the most problematic. Authorities have monitored these protests since 2001.
Demonstrations frequently occur at foreign embassies, but foreigners are rarely targeted. Large demonstrations are usually announced ahead of time and are well coordinated. Police may use security measures such as water cannons, batons, tear gas, or rubber bullets to quell violent activity. Demonstrations and strikes can also disrupt public transportation.
Traffic & Transportation Safety
Transportation in Italy is generally safe if you use common sense and observe basic precautions. If traveling with bags, keep them in sight at all times. When riding the metro, avoid depositing luggage near doors, as this is the most opportune place for theft, especially when the train is stopped.
A conductor or member of Italy’s railway police (Polizia Ferroviaria) is present on most trains. A member of the railway police is almost always present on long-distance and night trains and greater numbers regularly patrol train stations. Emergency brakes are also available, but a heavy penalty can be levied against someone who unnecessarily stops the train. If you feel threatened, stand next to the emergency call system to indicate that you are prepared to use it if necessary. Consider changing compartments, but only do this if it can be done safely.
Bus travel in Italy is generally very safe with the most common threat being petty theft.
You must obey local transportation laws and regulations.
You must purchase train tickets and validate them by inserting them into 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 street 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, the fine will automatically double and will be forwarded to the violator’s home address.
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 rules 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/ cyclists and scooters or other vehicles. Be particularly cautious if you rent a scooter. For more information, visit the Association for Safe International Travel at www.asirt.org
As a pedestrian, it is your responsibility to make yourself visible and avoid dangerous behavior and situations.
Traffic is heavy in major cities, and pedestrians are numerous. Sidewalks are sometimes narrow or may be lacking. Motorists may not stop for pedestrians in crossings. 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.
Be careful and attentive. Sidewalks can be extremely congested and uneven.
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 your health and safety risks. It causes you to lose all common sense about 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 will 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.
Italy is prone to earthquakes and regular seismic events. Milan and most of northern Italy is outside of the main earthquake zones; however, the north does experience strong tremors. Local authorities have well-developed plans to handle seismic events.
UCEAP Contingency Planning
If a local situation requires increased caution or a program suspension and evacuation of participants, UCEAP will activate contingency plans. For security reasons, contingency plans are not public and cannot be shared with anyone except UCEAP officials.
Program Suspension Policy
If the U.S. Department of State or CDC issues a Travel Warning after the start date of the program term, UCEAP may suspend the program. If time and local security conditions permit, UCEAP will consult with the UC Study Center Director, U.S. Embassy, U.S. Department of State regional and security analysts, other organizations that offer programs in the same country, and area experts to determine the appropriate timeframe for suspending the program and/or for the evacuation of the students from the host country.
The UCEAP required security evacuation will override any host institution, or local US Embassy voluntary departure on U.S. government-arranged flights, that require U.S. citizens to sign a promissory note with the government. The safe evacuation of UCEAP students, managed by UCEAP, is covered by UCEAP insurance. UC students are required to follow UC safety directives in the event of an evacuation.
Follow these general fire safety tips. Most college-related fires in the U.S. are due to a general lack of knowledge about fire safety and prevention. Educate yourself about fire safety standards in your UCEAP country. Fire safety standards differ drastically around the world.
- Know where emergency exists are located and check whether exits are passable.
- Know how to call the local fire department.
Do not stay in housing above the sixth floor so you are within range of most fire department rescue ladders.
- Print and take with you the UCEAP brochure, Fire Safety 101 for Students.
- Purchase and use a smoke detector. Before departure contact the Fire Safety Foundation. Choose from a variety of battery-powered smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms, including models with sealed, 10-year batteries. Once purchased, the alarms and a multilingual installation manual – written in English and the host country’s native language - will be shipped to the address where you are residing.
- Have an escape plan and practice it.
- Treat every smoke alarm activation as a likely fire and react quickly and safely to the alarm.
- Check for fire hazards. Make sure exit routes are not blocked.
- If you have a disability, alert others of the type of assistance you need to leave the building.
- Refer to the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Fire Safety section for life-saving information.
Fire - Dial 115
What Is 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 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 your Program Specialist at the UCEAP Systemwide Office at (805) 893-4762.
- After office hours: Call the 24-hour emergency phone numbers at (805) 893-4762 or (805) 882-2086.
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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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
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