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, health and safety, and much more.
Remember to also visit the Participants
section of the UCEAP website for important information and deadlines.
“I loved the experience of being immersed in a completely different culture and language. To anyone adventurous enough to venture out into the unknown, EAP is one of the best programs to venture with! ACCENT was very helpful, informative, and supportive throughout the duration of the program.”
While UCEAP endeavors to keep the information updated and accurate, all program information should be considered in conjunction with program-specific operational correspondence which may contain the most up to date information. There may be times where UCEAP will need to change this information and it will often be updated online. Student is responsible for reviewing all information shared through the program guides and by UCEAP staff in California and abroad, and partners abroad. UCEAP reserves the right to make changes to its programs, whenever, in our sole judgment local conditions so warrant, in response to local circumstances that could substantially change some parts of the program, or if we deem it necessary for the comfort, convenience, or safety of our program participants.
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 Staff 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).
Phone: (805) 893-2712
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.
Connect with us! Join our Facebook network via the UCEAP Italy
Study Centers Abroad
The academic programs in Barcelona and Florence are overseen by local personnel in consultation with the UCEAP Systemwide Office and a UC faculty advisory committee. Student services and activities are provided by ACCENT (International Consortium for Academic Programs Abroad) in collaboration with UCEAP.
ACCENT/UC Florence Study Center
Michelangelo D'Elia, Director
Piazza Santo Spirito, 10
Phone: (+39) 055-267-0501, (+39) 055-238-1657
Fax: (+39) 055-271-7749
ACCENT/UC Barcelona Study Center
Vanessa Rodriguez Garcia, Director
ACCENT Madrid Study Center
Paseo General Martinez Campos, 42 Local 4
Phone: (+34) 91-308-5979
Fax: (+34) 91-308-6348
Phone Number Codes
U.S. international code: 011 (dial this to call from the U.S.)
Italy country code: 39
Florence city code: 55
Spain country code: 34
Barcelona city code: 93
Approximate Time Differences
Florence: Add 9 hours
Barcelona: Add 9 hours
The Mediterranean Politics, Food, and Culture Program introduces you to the Mediterranean in all of its complexity. The courses examine Mediterranean foodways from three scales of analysis: the Mediterranean as a space of cultural encounters, the nation-state as a uniquely modern phenomenon, and the city as a complex community.
The program employs a historically grounded approach to contemporary food practices in the Mediterranean—particularly those of Italy and Spain—fusing experiential learning with vigorous academic study. You explore the social and cultural fields where contemporary Mediterranean foodways come to be constituted both literally and discursively.
You will spend five weeks each in Florence, Italy; Barcelona, Spain; and Syracuse, Sicily. All students take four courses on this program.
Two umbrella courses continue across the semester with a full session in each of the three locations. Each of these umbrella courses is worth 7.5 UC quarter units:
- Making of the Mediterranean: Cultural Encounters
- Unmaking the Mediterranean: Nationalism and Nation States
You also enroll in two five-week courses that focuses on the unique configurations of food production and consumption of Italy or Spain:
- Florence and the Politics of Food in Italy
Florence; cross-listed as European Studies, Political Science and Sociology, 4 UC quarter units
- The Celebrity and Status of Food: Reinventing Barcelona for the 21st Century
Barcelona; cross-listed as Communication, European Studies, and History, 4 UC quarter units
The majority of the courses are taught by professors from local universities who are passionate about their subjects and about their cities. Their infectious enthusiasm amplifies your experience, making the information-packed semester quickly fly by.
This intensive program requires your active participation in order to maintain the pace. In all of the courses, instructors use the cities as course material and frequent visits to such places as local markets, urban farms, foundations, migrant neighborhoods, and vineyards immerse you in the subject matter. The sights can be overwhelming, but must also be carefully observed and recounted in the context of multi-disciplinary readings transcending different historical periods.
Readings and exams for each module of the umbrella courses and the city specific courses, journals and reflection papers, and oral presentations, must all be juggled and completed on schedule. Students who miss class or assignments fall behind quickly and have a difficult time catching up. No assignments can be made up once you have left the city in which it was assigned.
The Mediterranean Politics, Food, and Culture Program is intoxicating and richly rewarding, but is also one of the most rigorous semesters you will experience!
In Florence, classes are held at the UC Center in the Oltrarno neighborhood; in Barcelona, on the Ciutadella campus of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra; in Syracuse, at the Syracuse Academy.
Two umbrella courses, both of which are required, continue across all three sites throughout the term. For the city-specific courses students conduct independent research that draws upon coursework to analyze their experiences and observations in each site. The courses are designed to enrich students' sensibilities, imaginations, and knowledge about the complexities of regional differences in terms of class, gender, and ethnic inequalities and their resonances in every day life.
As noted in the Program Overview, regular classroom lectures and discussions are enhanced by walking tours and visits to both urban and rural destinations.
Registration and Requirements
Registration is carried out online when you fill out your MyEAP Study List. The UCEAP Academic Specialist in California will contact you via e-mail in order to lead you through the UC registration process and will also be able to respond to any questions that you might have.
- You must register in both umbrella courses and the two city-specific courses, for a total of 23 UC quarter units (equivalent to 15.3 semester units).
- You may select one umbrella course OR one or both city-specific courses for pass/no pass.
Instructions and information are regularly sent by e-mail: ensure that the e-mail address listed in MyEAP is one that you will check regularly!
You are allowed a total of one unexcused absence per module or one unexcused absence per city course during the program. Poor attendance or lack of participation in all required activities will have a negative impact on your final grade
Grades for this program are usually available in late January, about a month after the program ends.
For general information about grades, see the Academic Information
chapter of the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad.
Extending UCEAP Participation
Planning for Back-to-Back Programs
It is sometimes possible to participate in two different UCEAP options consecutively.
Participation in back-to-back programs requires an exceptional level of organization and maturity. You must be able to plan in advance and prepare for the second program while completing the first. Decide early if you would like to participate in a second program in order to complete necessary requirements while still at your UC campus.
To participate in a program immediately following the Mediterranean Politics, Food and Culture program, you must notify your Campus EAP Advisor of your intentions and submit a separate application by the campus deadline and go through the regular UCEAP selection process for each program. Your Campus EAP Office will have more information about the application process.
If you are planning to participate in these two consecutive programs:
- You must discuss your plans with your Campus EAP Advisor as early as possible so that arrangements can be made.
- You will need a visa! Anticipate your visa requirements; contact the UCEAP Systemwide Office to let them know your plans and ask for visa information.
- Submit all required predeparture materials for both programs to UCEAP before going abroad.
Contact your campus financial aid officer and the UCEAP Student Finance Accountant before going abroad to ensure that your finances are in order for both programs.
Get acquainted with your new host citys, countries, and cultures before you leave California. Travel guides and travel-related websites such as Lonely Planet
or Time Out
are excellent resources.
Read about the Italian and Spanish lifestyles so you will have some idea of what to expect. Keep up with current events by reading articles in newspapers, magazines, and journals that have to do with these countries.
Free time will be scarce due to the fast pace of the courses and limited time in each country. You will be able to explore the cities through academic excursions and during the class break between the Florence and Barcelona portions of the program.
The first few weeks abroad are typically hard for all UCEAP students. Students commonly feel they are going through this adjustment alone, although most participants experience it. Typically, cross-cultural adjustment issues arise because of uncertainty about how to face certain everyday social encounters. Entering another country is both a geographic move as well as a psychological one.
Use of illicit drugs is a crime and can result in serious penalties. Student abuse of alcohol or use of illicit drugs is against UC and UCEAP policies and will not be tolerated.
As in many countries, alcohol and other drugs are a part of the local youth culture, but typically there is no pressure to partake. Moderate drinking as a part of meals and social occasions is traditional in Spanish and Italian cultures from a very young age; on the other hand, “binge” drinking at parties or drinking in order to get drunk tends to be much less common among Spanish and Italian university students than can be the case on U.S. college campuses. Overuse or abuse of alcohol may bring unwelcome attention and difficulties; getting drunk is not considered acceptable behavior.
Some students have reported encountering behaviors that would be labeled as sexist, racist, or discriminatory in the U.S.
UC students of African-American, Asian-Pacific Islander, Latin, and Middle Eastern backgrounds in particular may frequently find themselves the objects of stares and comments, ranging from relatively innocent to occasionally hostile.
Graffiti, including anti-Semitic, anti-Islamic, and generally anti-immigrant messages, is not unusual in Spain and Italy.
Both male and female UCEAP students should not expect to date in the American sense. Male students in some countries have found themselves expected to marry the person they are dating. Female students have found their “dates” to have a different expectation of the purpose of the date and have had difficulties in resolving the misunderstanding.
In all three locations, you will be spending a great deal of time with your UC student peers rather than interacting with local students. Try to behave accordingly and understand that you will have the same companions for the entire program.
All students should maintain a heightened awareness of their surroundings. Female students on UCEAP have indicated that they were stared at, approached, and harassed by men more openly and more frequently abroad than at home. If you ignore local social conventions, you may be subject to social disapproval and may receive unwelcome advances. In most cases these incidents represent a cultural difference that causes annoyance and frustration for UC students, rather than a source of physical danger.
Some students have commented that there is no “political correctness” in parts of Europe. However, do not give in to behaviors that invade your personal boundaries and that feel uncomfortable or unsafe to you. If a situation feels inappropriate or makes you uneasy, get yourself out of the situation. Never sacrifice your sense of safety to avoid offending the locals.
It is important that you do not allow such behavior to prevent you from going abroad. Try physically moving away from the source of offensive behavior, as responding may simply escalate the situation. Seek help from program staff and fellow students if you experience such behavior, especially if it becomes out of control or causes you increased anxiety and anger. Female returnees indicate that harassment can occur no matter what the circumstances; however, they recommend adapting your dress, comments, and actions to blend more closely to local norms. Talking to local women and observing them in their daily activities can help to accomplish this.
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 an orientation, during which you will learn important information about academic, logistic, and cultural aspects of your stays in Italy and Spain. This introduction to life and study in Europe will help you adjust as quickly as possible to the new cities and cultures surrounding you. There will be additional orientations when you switch cities. The specific arrival date, time, and meeting place for the orientations are listed in the UCEAP Pre-Departure Checklist. Short walking tours will introduce you to the UC/ACCENT facilities and the area around the Study Centers in Florence and Barcelona. A group welcome reception or dinner will be held during the first or second day at each location.
Additional information about passports, visas, and other required documents is provided in the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
and UCEAP Pre-Departure Checklist.
Travel to Your Host Country
The UCEAP program budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
UCEAP strongly recommends purchasing changeable round trip tickets, which will allow you to make changes to your return flight for a fee. UCEAP discourages purchasing one way tickets, as your Program Budget is based on a changeable round trip student fare, which is generally less expensive. 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.
Most airline tickets are good for one year only. When buying round-trip tickets, purchase tickets that allow changes to the return date. 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.
Students in the program are organized into three groups. One will begin in Sicily, one in Barcelona, one in Florence. Wherever you begin, you will go to the remaining cities in this order. So if you begin in Barcelona, you will then go to Florence then Sicily; if you begin in Florence, you will next go to Sicily and then Barcelona.
All students will have a week-long break between the second and third cities. Transportatiom from the first to the second city is included in program fees and pre-arranged for all students. Neither transportation nor housing in arranged for the week of the break, and students will make their way independently to the third city. You will also need to manage your luggage during this week since storage will not be provided by the program.
You are responsible for reserving and purchasing your tickets from the U.S. to your first city, back to the U.S. at the end of the program, and travel between the second and third city (even if you are on full financial aid). Your Financial Aid Office is not responsible for purchasing tickets, though the expense may be included in your aid package. You are strongly urged to purchase a changeable airline ticket. Standby tickets are not appropriate for UCEAP.
You are responsible for arriving at the specified location on the required date and time for the official start of the program. The Official Start Date is listed in the program calendar. If you fail to appear on the Official Start Date, you will be subject to dismissal from the program (Student Agreement, Section 10).
Detailed arrival information, including Study Center contact information and directions to the check-in locations, is provided in the Arrival Information Sheet in the online UCEAP Pre-Departure Checklist. Carry this information with you to Europe.
Provide a copy of your itinerary to ACCENT by the deadline indicated in the Pre-Departure Checklist. Inform ACCENT of any changes to your itinerary thereafter.
Financial Aid Students
Your financial aid package is calculated using your specific UCEAP Program Budget. The estimated round-trip airfare amount is based on the cost of a changeable student ticket 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.
A visa is a stamp placed in the passport by the authorities of a country. The visa grants you permission to reside and study in that country.
All students must obtain a student visa in the U.S. prior to departure to Europe.
You will apply for a visa through the Italian Consulate - you will not need an additional visa for Spain. Detailed instructions will be given in your Pre-Departure Checklist. Use the visa instructions and sample application in the UCEAP Pre-Departure Checklist to complete your application. 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 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.
If you are not a U.S. citizen, you are required to have a valid passport and a residence permit plus proof of permission to reenter the U.S. You will also need to provide proof of having a return flight to the U.S.
If you are an EU citizen, you do not need a visa.
Residence Permit (Permesso di Soggiorno)
Students will also need a residence permit.
After your arrival in Florence or Syracuse, Study Center staff will help you obtain a residence permit for foreigners, a "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. The residence permit cost is approximately €157. You will need to pay for this in cash (euros) when you apply.
The permesso di soggiorno is required for legal residence in Italy. You will be deported if you fail to secure the permesso di soggiorno. Neither ACCENT nor UCEAP will refund any fees paid for the program in this case, and no academic credit will be awarded.
Travel Before or After Your Program
U.S. citizens are allowed to travel in the Schengen area for up to 90 days without a visa.
You must submit your actual passport with your visa application approximately 75 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.
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.
All students must check requirements for travel in Europe before, during, and after the program. Make sure that you follow all entry requirements for all countries you plan to visit. Some countries may require that you have a visa or other documents.
The UCEAP student budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
Special Note for Non-U.S./Non-EU Citizens
You must check for your own requirements for travel in Europe before or after the validity date of your visa. If you are planning to travel outside of Italy during or after the program, investigate the requirements to do so as there may be visa restrictions for certain countries.
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.
Photocopy all important documents, including your passport photo pages, visa in your passport, travelers check receipts, airline tickets, driver’s license, student ID, and credit cards (front and back). It is easier to replace lost or stolen documents when you have photocopies. Leave copies of these documents at home with a parent or guardian and pack a set in various pieces of luggage. Spending a few moments copying documents now can save time and energy if something is lost or stolen. You may also benefit from saving these copies electronically for easy access to these documents from anywhere.
Undocumented Students and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Students
Consult with an immigration attorney free of charge on your campus to determine if study abroad is right for you.
If you are currently enrolled as a student at UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Merced, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, UC San Francisco, UC Santa Barbara, or UC Santa Cruz, contact the UC Undocumented Legal Services Center at https://law.ucdavis.edu/uc-undocumented/
The UCEAP Program Budget does not include funds to purchase clothing abroad.
Check with your airline regarding the latest baggage allowance and other restrictions. Pack lightly. The pre-arranged flights have luggage weight restrictions and you will have to pay extra if your luggage exceeds this limit. You will also have to carry your own luggage, so make sure you can handle it. Long-distance buses, trains, and taxis in Spain limit luggage to one piece per passenger. If you have excess luggage you must research and find your own storage space. Your Study Center will not store luggage.
Clearly identify each item of luggage on the inside and outside with your name, home address, and Study Center address abroad. Never leave luggage unattended. Read about the Personal Property Benefit included in the UCEAP Insurance Plan and assess if the coverage is adequate. You may decide to protect your belongings with additional insurance.
- Laptop computer with wireless card and Ethernet cable
- Travel converter, transformer, and adapter plugs
- Passport and any other entry requirements for the countries you will be visiting
- UCEAP Participation Letter and host university acceptance letter
- Passport-size photos (for public transportation passes)
- Language dictionaries
- Notepaper and pens
- Flash drive (or other back-up media storage device for papers)
- Prescription medication (enough to last for the first few months of your stay; see the Health chapter of this guide for more information
- Good pair of walking shoes
- Slippers (Euroepeans do not usually go barefoot at home)
- Clothes for layering
- lightweight and warm jackets
- Rain jacket/umbrella
- Day pack/ backpack (to carry books around the city or to use for a weekend away)
- Travel alarm clock
- Travel smoke detector
- Digital camera
- Bath towel
- Gifts for foreign hosts and new friends (CDs; T-shirts with city, state, or campus logos; California postcards)
- Photos of home, family, pets
- A shawl or scarf for ladies, to cover bare shoulders when visiting churches
- One dressy outfit for formal occasions
- Any sports attire you may need
Do Not Pack
The electrical current used in Europe is 50 cycles AC rather than the 60-cycle current used in the U.S. and voltage is 220–240 rather than the U.S. standard 110 volts for small appliances. Additionally, most electrical sockets have round holes. A converter (or transformer) and adapter plugs are needed in order to use typical home appliances. Most computers come with a built-in voltage converter.
Travel irons, curling irons, blow dryers, and electric razors with built-in converters for all currents can be purchased in the U.S. or abroad. Because the cost of electricity abroad is very high and since improper use of appliances may damage electrical outlets and the appliances themselves, it is a good policy to ask before using the outlets.
The Mediterranean climate is continental, meaning summers tend to be hot, winters tend to be cold, and the temperature between day and night differs significantly depending on the season. Many buildings have no central heating and tend to remain cold even after the weather outside has warmed up.
Clothing in Europe is generally more stylish and a bit more expensive than in California. Take clothing that is easy to care for, a dressy outfit for more formal occasions, and comfortable, sturdy walking shoes with thick soles. Flip-flops will mark you as an American tourist and women should bear in mind that shorts, short skirts, tank tops, and tight clothes will attract unwanted attention; avoid wearing them. Modest clothing is required when visiting churches or other holy sites. Females will not be allowed to enter many churches with bare shoulders; either wear a shirt with sleeves or wear a shawl. No one is allowed into the major basilicas wearing shorts of any length.
Insurance for Personal Possessions
Consider having additional protection for your property. 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.
The UCEAP Travel Insurance
policy offers limited personal property coverage. Review the policy carefully before departure to determine if it is adequate coverage for your possessions before you experience a loss.
If you decide to purchase supplemental personal property coverage, do so before departure and make sure that the coverage extends while traveling. The host university does not protect student belongings—even in university accommodations.
You are responsible for your own personal property. Use logical precautions to safeguard valuables from damage or theft by locking your room and securing currency, jewelry, passport, and other possessions.
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 (EUR or €) is the official currency unit accepted in Italy, Spain, and most nations of the European Union.
- Be sure to have more than one way to access money while abroad.
- Arrive to your first city with at least 300 Euros (some in small bills). You can obtain foreign currency from a U.S. bank. Some banks require at least a week or two to obtain foreign currency. The first few days of the program tend to be structured with orientations and you may not have time to obtain local currency during this period. By coming prepared with local currency, you will have money to hold you over until you become more familiar with the city. You should also carry some money in U.S. dollars for use while traveling from and back to the U.S.
- Take at least one credit card in your name (preferably two), and two ATM cards (if possible) from your U.S. bank account. The ATM cards must have an international (four-digit) PIN in order to work abroad.
- Travelers checks are useful for large purchases, to save you from high credit card conversion rates. They are also a safe back-up to get money, in case your credit card is lost, stolen, or shut down by your bank for international use. If you don’t use the travelers checks abroad, you can deposit them to your bank account upon your return to the U.S. Purchase the checks in U.S. dollars before you depart; AmEx Travelers Cheques are the most widely accepted. Be sure to make two copies of the check numbers and give one copy to a family member or friend before you leave home. Keep the other copy for yourself, separate from the actual checks. If your checks are lost or stolen, you will need to provide these numbers and corresponding receipts in order to obtain replacements.
- Do not plan to have checks (financial aid, money from family, etc.) sent to you abroad. Checks should be sent to a trusted friend or relative who can deposit the funds into your U.S. bank account.
- Assign your Power of Attorney to someone you trust.
Bank and Creditor Information
Discuss the following important details with your bank and credit card companies:
- Notify them that you will be traveling abroad; otherwise, they may flag or cancel your cards for unusual activity.
- Staying in contact while abroad, including contact phone numbers and e-mail (store contact information online so that you can easily access it while traveling).
- Whether or not your ATM card can be used in Italy, Spain, and other travel destinations. Cirrus and Plus systems are common throughout Europe, but if you do not have an international PIN, you will need to change it.
- Transaction fees for using an international ATM, including usage fees charged by ATMs abroad.
- Daily withdrawal and transfer limits (there may also be European ATM withdrawal limitations).
- Process for reporting lost/stolen cards and obtaining replacements (keep your account numbers in a secure, easily accessible location in case of emergencies).
- Partner banks abroad to minimize fees and allow access to certain benefits and services. Charles Schwab usually reimburses international ATM fees, and Bank of America has a relationship with Barclays Bank and does not charge ATM fees, so students have opened accounts with these banks before departure; other banks may offer similar services.
- Available online services, which will allow you to check account balances and pay bills. Be sure to ask about online banking fees.
- Cash advance services, including fees and interest rates (they are sometimes double that of purchases).
Plan on using a combination of methods to obtain money in case one fails (e.g., a local ATM is temporarily out of service). Do not rely solely on one form of access to funds.
You will have to cover the costs of daily transportation, meals, and personal items, among other expenses. Many students found that their living costs were much greater than expected and suggested budgeting a large amount of spending money.
Using an ATM card is the easiest way to access your money overseas and the exchange rate is the most favorable. ATMs are widely available and you will receive cash in local currency (Euros). Plan to have financial aid or other support funds deposited directly into your U.S. checking account by a relative or reliable friend. You can then withdraw these funds local currency via an ATM.
Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and do not withdraw money from an ATM at night. An ATM card can be lost or stolen, or might not work. For this reason, we recommend that you take ATM cards to two different accounts with you.
Credit cards are useful for emergencies, travel expenses, and everyday purchases. Most stores and restaurants in Italy and Spain honor major credit cards. Visa is the most widely accepted credit card in Europe, followed by MasterCard. American Express (AmEx) is not widely accepted, but can be used to purchase traveler’s checks abroad. The Discover Card is not widely accepted outside the U.S. and is not worth taking abroad.
Take at least two international credit cards and always leave one in a safe place in your housing; if one is lost or stolen, you will have an immediate backup. These credit cards must be in your name (not a parent’s).
If you need a cash advance after hours at an ATM, you will need an international PIN. If you conduct a cash advance transaction inside a bank, you may not need an international PIN, but you will need your passport.
Western Union can be used to have money sent from home in a very short amount of time (sometimes within minutes). In most instances, you can receive local currency at competitive foreign exchange rates. Check the Western Union
website for the number and address of the nearest office.
Wireless internet access is standard European Wide Band Internet (slower than in the U.S.). It will be available in all ACCENT Centers and all student housing.
All ACCENT Centers have a compluter lab or area for students to access internet within the center Monday - Friday.
You are encouraged to take a laptop. It will be very useful.
Be aware of the following:
- Be certain your laptop is fully insured in case of loss or theft. Review the UCEAP Insurance Plan to determine if the benefits provided are sufficient.
- Do not ship your laptop overseas; it may be held for inspection by customs officials and customs fees are costly, even for older laptops.
- Be sure to carry your laptop with you at all times and never set the bag containing your computer out of reach. Laptop computers are among the most frequently stolen items from travelers.
- Make sure you have a wireless card installed in your computer in order to access the WiFi network at the Study Centers.
- Take your own Ethernet cable.
- Ensure that your laptop is equipped with a built-in voltage transformer that enables it to operate on the 220-volt system used in Europe (this is a fairly common feature) and take adaptor plugs.
- Be certain you have the right type of plug adaptor, and closely follow the instructions you will be sent via e-mail prior to departure.
- You may also consider buying Lojack for Laptops and/or a laptop lock.
The majority of students also utilize Internet cafés, which are common and popular in Europe, to access the Internet and write and print papers.
If you do not take a laptop, there are only a small number of computers available only during ACCENT’s office hours (Monday - Friday) and with a sign-up system. Plan to take your own laptop.
Approximate time difference: add 9 hours for Italy and Spain
To call or send a fax from the U.S., dial the international access code (011), followed by the country code (see the Your UCEAP Network section of this guide), and then the phone number. When making calls within the country, you may need to dial the city code, even for local calls.
For calling your home in the U.S., UCEAP recommends that you open a free Skype
account. It is one of the most inexpensive ways to keep in touch with family and friends in the U.S. With your own computer and a headset or at an Internet café (locutorio) you can call other Skype users free of charge with excellent call quality. Even if you are calling a landline in the U.S., the rates are affordable at about 2.3¢ per minute. Ask your friends and family to download the program to their computers and you will be able to talk for free.
Prepaid Phone Cards
Phone cards are also a good option to call the U.S. You can buy them abroad, or you can conveniently buy them online from Cloncom. On this website you can check rates and receive your PIN and access numbers via e-mail.
You can use a prepaid card on any phone (home, cell, and public phones). Use a toll-free access number (900 number) when you call from someone else’s phone so that they are not charged any fees for the call.
Be mindful of the following:
901 Access: This access method allows you to pay for a local call but receive more minutes for your international call. To call from a pay phone, insert coins and then dial the 901 access number provided.
900 Access: By using this access method you will be making a toll-free call.
Using a cell phone to call home can be expensive, although you will not be charged for incoming calls from the U.S. and there are some companies that specialize in student rates. In general, getting a cell phone is a good idea so you can call and text message friends within the country you are staying.
Prepaid cell phones: With prepaid phones, you have maximum flexibility since you pay as you go. As you need more credit you simply buy recharge cards. The minimum amount of credit that you must add is usually between €5 and €10.
Cell phone rental services: There are cell phone rental services available. Some recent UCEAP returnees have rented cell phones.
Take your own U.S. cell phone: Europe operates on a GSM network, so check to make sure your phone operates on GSM.
Apartment Phone Use
Student apartments are not equipped with telephone lines, so you will need to use a cell phone or outside phone to make any calls.
It is best not to have packages sent to you. Packages often arrive after students have completed the program and will NOT be forwarded.
Never ship laptops, cameras, or luggage abroad; shipping is expensive and subject to arbitrary customs duties. Do not try to have medications shipped to you.
Luggage and packages may not be sent prior to your arrival. The Study Center will not store luggage.
Mailing packages to Europe can take a very long time. If you do decide to have packages sent, asking friends and family to declare “Used Items for Personal Use Only” on packages shipped overseas may alleviate high customs charges, but be forewarned that even inexpensive items marked in this way are not immune to customs charges or delays. Customs officials have the right to examine the contents of any package and assess its value. All packages must clear customs, and you will be charged at least 20 percent VAT (Value Added Tax). To avoid custom charges and delays, it might be safer, faster, and cheaper to just purchase items in Europe or to shop online from a European Union country.
It is best to have mail and packages sent via FedEx, UPS, or a similar service. The express mail service offered by the U.S. Postal Service takes much longer than the private services because the package enters the regular mail system once it arrives overseas.
All mail should be mailed to the Study Centers at the following address:
ACCENT Florence Center
Piazza Santo Spirito, 10
Do not send mail to the ACCENT Offices in Barcelona or Syracuse.
In the event that a package arrives, the ACCENT staff will sign for it and keep it at the UC Center until you are able to pick it up. If a package is not addressed to the ACCENT Center or if customs charges a fee, the staff will be unable to sign for a package. In such cases, a message will be left in your mailbox letting you know where to pick it up. It is important to remember that packages sent to you overseas and any customs charges incurred are your direct responsibility. UCEAP cannot intervene on your behalf with the local Postal Service if there are problems receiving your packages. In addition, any packages that arrive after the program end date cannot be forwarded or returned.
If you need to receive important documents overseas, you must use private express mail (Federal Express, DHL, etc.). The item will be registered and insured and the mailing time will be less than that of the Postal Service. The express mail service offered by the U.S. Postal Service takes much longer than the private services because the package enters the regular mail system once it arrives overseas.
Be sure to write “Airmail” on all mail sent overseas and pay the appropriate postage as surface mail can take up to three months to arrive. Past students say that airmail from the U.S. takes two to six weeks to arrive.
All participants will live in UCEAP/ACCENT pre-arranged housing. It is not possible to secure your own housing. You must live in the arranged program housing.
Housing assignments: Prior to departure, you will complete a housing questionnaire, which will be used by the ACCENT staff to help place you in an housing suitable to your needs. It is crucial you take the questionnaire seriously and answer all the questions thoughtfully. Past students recommend you be specific and honest about your needs, even while realizing that perhaps not all of them may be met.
Lodging costs are included in the program fees you pay to UCEAP. You will pay out of pocket for meals. Check the UCEAP Student Budget, located in the Money Matters section of your Participants page
for housing costs.
Rules & contract: All students will sign a housing contract, and consequences of breaking the contract range up to expulsion from the program. You will receive a set of “Living Guidelines” when you arrive for the program to help you adjust more smoothly to your accommodations. In the meantime, keep the following in mind:
In Barcelona and Syracuse, you will be placed in double/trip rooms within student apartments. In Florence, you will be placed in double/triple rooms within a residence hall. The Barcelona apartments are located in the beautiful, tight knit community of Gracia. The apartments in Syracuse are near the bridge to Ortigia, within walking distance of the classrooms across from the Molo San Antonio. The student residence in Florence is located in the Santa Croce neighborhood in central Florence.
Each living space is unique and will vary in size, condition, and proximity to your classes. Keep in mind that living standards in Europe are different from those in the U.S., and living spaces tend to be smaller and older.
Housing is located within a 25-40 minute walk or bus ride away from the ACCENT Centers. Please remember that commuting via public transportation or walking is the norm in Europe and this commute time is not unusual.
Student apartments/residence halls tend to be comfortable but simple. The rooms are furnished with a bed (including sheets, pillows, and blankets), a closet or armoire, but minimal storage space. Keep this in mind when packing your bags. You will need to take your own towels, soap, shampoo, etc. Bathrooms are small and usually there is only one bathroom per apartment. In apartments with seven or more students, there is a minimum of two bathrooms. Kitchen facilities include a cooking range, a refrigerator, dishes, and basic cooking utensils shared by everyone in the apartment/residence hall. Each apartment will have one or more areas for studying, which will include a table or desk.
All apartments/residence halls have laundry facilities, but they may not have dryers due to the high cost of electricity. Electricity is expensive in Europe. Be conservative with energy use. As it states in your housing contract, you will be billed for any electricity you use over an “average” amount. The buildings are home to families and others, and though there are no curfews, quiet hours are generally observed between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m. Excessive noise is prohibited by law and Europeans are serious about this; residents have the right to call the authorities after 11 p.m. Parties are not allowed in the apartments, and students who violate these rules will be expelled.
Several UC or international students will share an apartment/residence. Living spaces are co-ed, with single-sex bedrooms. You will spend a significant amount of time with the same group of students; you will attend class each day and travel on weekend excursions with your roommates. Many students enjoy this aspect of apartment living.
Overnight guests are not allowed.
Arrival & departure: You will receive your apartment assignment once you arrive in your first city. You will not receive any information about your housing assignment prior to departure. It is not possible to move into your housing early. If you arrive early or plan to remain after the program, you must arrange your own accommodations.
Break: Housing is not provided during the week-long program break. Students must manage their luggage during this time. No storage is provided.
Requests to change housing assignment: If you have a problem with your housing, immediately meet with the ACCENT staff and discuss the situation. Do not move out of your apartment/residence hall without consulting ACCENT staff. You may not make housing changes or arrangements on your own. If you do move out without consulting ACCENT staff, you will be in violation of UCEAP and ACCENT policy and risk being dismissed from the program.
No meals are provided, but all apartments and residence halls have kitchen facilities. Kitchen facilities include a cooking range, a refrigerator, dishes, and basic cooking utensils shared by everyone in the apartment/residence hall. Check the UCEAP Student Budget in your Participants
page for meal cost estimates. More details are below.
Shopping for food and preparing all meals will be your responsibility; however, there are many types of markets available for your grocery needs. Europeans buy much of their groceries at family-owned specialty corner stores. You’ll find these for fruits/vegetables, seafood, pork, baked goods, and more. Prices are mid-range, and service, if you frequent them often, is personalized.
The best prices are usually found in the larger marketplaces rather than at the corner stores. You will have to take your own shopping bags (or pay for theirs) and bag your own groceries.
In addition, most neighborhoods have a large marketplace with stall after stall of products, each stall specializing in one thing: meats and cheeses, chicken and eggs, fruits and vegetables, bread, pastries, dairy products, and dry goods.
Remember that food is the central topic of this program, and approach all meals with that in mind. Many of the classes will require photo essays -- not always about what you have for dinner, but what is served in restaurants and how it is presented is something that may be highlighted. Give some thought to these things as you read menus and make your selections.
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. There are many cafes, pizzerie, and trattorie that are reasonably priced. Many students get together to prepare meals at the apartments/residence halls.
It is recommended that you learn the local words for food items prior to going abroad. This will help you discern from menus which dishes are vegetarian and will also help you to ask your wait staff for vegetarian options.
Vegetarians will have no problem in Italy, as fresh produce and legumes are plentiful in the markets and many restaurants offer vegetarian options. Vegans may find it a little more difficult to find items without cheese or dairy products.
In Spain, breakfast is rather light, usually consisting of a roll and strong coffee (a “continental breakfast”). Lunch, on the other hand, tends to be a substantial meal and is seen as the main meal of the day. Lunch is typically served around 2 p.m. and Spaniards tend to linger over this main meal. The evening meal, as with breakfast, is lighter, and is served later in the evening, around 9:30 p.m.
The Spanish diet is based on eggs, bread, potatoes, chicken, pork, and fish. Pork has a prominent place in the Spanish diet. Fish and shellfish are abundant but can be expensive. Their quality and preparation are superb, although past students have commented that they were initially unprepared for a fish to be served intact. Vegetables and fruits are of equally high quality.
Many restaurants and cafés offer fixed menus or menú del día (a whole meal for a fixed price). You will usually find these meals to be the best value, as they will include a choice of two main dishes, bread, wine or mineral water, and dessert.
There are also numerous cafés and tapas bars, which are good places for a quick snack. Besides tapas, there are salad bars, which are a great option for lunch. They offer unlimited salads, pastas, soups, and desserts and a beverage for approximately €8. In bars, you can also order a Spanish sandwich (bocadillo) for about €4. When eating out, it is less expensive to sit inside than it is to sit at an outside table, and even less expensive to sit at the bar.
A vegetarian diet is a little more difficult in Spain, particularly if you do not eat fish. Most prepared foods contain some form of meat, or are cooked with chicken or meat broth.
The UCEAP program budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
Your primary mode of transportation will be public transportation (buses, metro, local trains, trams) or just walking, so it is helpful to have an idea of the transit systems before you depart. Maps of the transit systems are readily available online and will be provided in the program materials available at the on-site orientations.
Free time will be scarce due to the fast pace of the courses and limited time in each country. You will be able to explore the cities through academic excursions and other planned trips. You will also be able to explore on your own during the week-long program break. The ACCENT staff will have information on cultural and social events, and will organize a number of activities for the program, which will vary depending on availability and student interest.
Students with Disabilities
Contact the UCEAP Program Specialist immediately if you need accommodations. Information will be treated confidentially. Advance planning is important. Accommodations may be arranged after you provide detailed information on services that will be required.
You will find accessibility and accommodations in Italy and Spain different from the US. Note-takers and tutors may be available, but there may be expenses involved, which will be your responsibility. In general, most professors are willing to give extra time for exams.
As is the case in older buildings throughout Spain, accessibility at the Instituto Internacional is limited as there is only ramp access and one elevator, which is relatively small. The UC/ACCENT Study Center in Rome has restroom facilities and elevators for students with disabilities.
Older buildings to have stairs and no elevators. Expect to encounter uneven sidewalks, unequipped bathrooms, and narrow doors and aisles. Newer buildings are more accessible and some of the major shopping malls, cinemas, museums, bars, and restaurants are well adapted. While some major sights have been made accessible, planning ahead is always recommended for students with disabilities.
Italy's narrow cobbled streets and storied monuments can be a challenge for physically impaired travelers. Many Italian streets lack ramps and sidewalks, or as in Venice, feature stairs and narrow pedestrian bridges. Some major sights and hotels are accessible. Others lack ramps, elevators, or accessible bathrooms. Within the city of Rome, some metro stations are wheelchair accessible. Some buses have wheelchair access, but service is inconsistent.
For more information:
Leaving your host city for more than 24 hours?
You are required to 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 US), it is important for UCEAP officials to know how to reach you so we can help you.
The UCEAP program budget does not include funds for recreational travel abroad.
Familiarize yourself with the UCEAP Student Travel Policy, which prohibits travel to places identified by the U.S. Department of State as ones to be avoided for safety reasons.
While travel opportunities may be tempting, do not allow your travels to interfere with coursework or needed study time. It is expected that you will attend all class sessions and adhere to your program’s attendance policy at all times. As stipulated in the UCEAP Student Agreement, you must regularly attend all classes for which you are registered, and must conform to all applicable rules.
This is a very intensive program and opportunities for travel may be limited, but you will have a Fall break, during which you are free to travel on your own. You will spend only a short amount of time in Florence and Barcelona, and you are encouraged to get to know these areas and to limit extensive travel during the program.
Do not make travel plans until after you are abroad and know your schedule. There may be occasional site visits on Fridays and Saturdays. These site visits are considered course time and they cannot be missed. You will have to change any prearranged travel plans if they interfere with your classes. (Students in the past have lost money because they cannot get refunds for fees already paid out to companies, such as airlines.)
Virtually every destination of interest within Europe is served by trains, buses, or both, making weekend travel easy.
Failure to abide by UCEAP travel guidelines or the Student Agreement may be cause for dismissal from the program.
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 unlikely but possible. Students may face social discrimination in a variety of situations.
The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community is widely accepted throughout the country. Discrimination in employment is banned. The law can consider an anti-LGBT hate element an aggravating circumstance in crimes.
For more information,
Know Before You Go
While abroad you are automatically covered by the UCEAP Travel Insurance Policy
. 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.
The UCEAP Travel Insurance policy is not the same as your campus or private insurance. Inform yourself before seeking care. Your UCEAP Travel Insurance does not include coverage for preventative care, checkups, and vaccinations.
Read details in Benefits at a Glance
. Familiarize yourself with the coverage, exclusions, and eligibility criteria. You will be financially responsible for any charges for medical services that are not included benefits in the policy and for any charges over an above the “maximum allowable amount”. Your travel insurance policy number is ADD N04834823. It is underwritten by Chubb Insurance Company.
The travel insurance works on a reimbursement basis. There is no deductible or co-insurance.
You can submit a claim for a refund consideration of covered expenses. For more information about the medical claim process
or about non-medical claims
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.
For more information refer to your Pre-Departure Checklist, Insurance tab, or the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Insurance chapter
For Questions about Coverage, Benefits, and Claims Status
Contact ACI at email@example.com.
A high level of medical care comparable to that in other industrialized countries is available in major cities. Adequate medical care of varying standards is available in the rest of the country.
A high level of medical care comparable to that in other industrialized countries is available throughout the country in private hospitals and clinics.
If you feel sick or injured, seek medical attention and contact the Study Center staff immediately. The Study Center will help you choose a clinic to visit, help you with the UCEAP insurance claim process, and arrange with your professors if extended absence is expected. It is a good idea to let the Study Center know of any medical services you receive, even in routine or non-emergency situations.
In all countries, if you are sick or injured, you make an appointment, pay for treatment, and submit a claim with the UCEAP insurance.
If you have a pre-existing medical condition, carry a letter from your physician describing the medical condition, treatment, and prescribed medications, including generic names and dosage.
Your behaviors have a significant impact on your wellness. Observe healthy habits:
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Stay hydrated.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption and smoking.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Get routine exercise.
Know Before You Go
Inform yourself before you travel. Just as language and currency vary around the world, so does medical care. Know what to do if you get sick.
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.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Traveler's Health
web page has important information about health risks present in the country where you will be studying.
Regulations regarding medications vary from the US.
- While on UCEAP you are covered by the UCEAP travel insurance. Inform yourself, UCEAP travel insurance terms of coverage.
- If you need a refill while abroad, you must see a local doctor. US prescriptions are not valid in other countries. You must travel with a letter from your prescribing physician explaining your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen, including the generic name.
Note: If the visit to the local doctor is considered preventive care, it will not be covered by the UCEAP travel insurance; your campus or private insurance plan may cover it.
- If you need to find out if an 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.
- Two classes of medicines – narcotics and psychotropics – are under the control of international law. This covers any medicine that can have an effect on the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the potential to be abused. The narcotic class mostly relates to analgesic opioids and their derivatives (e.g. morphine and codeine) which tend to be highly regulated. Psychotropics are all those medications likely to be used to treat mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, and psychotic conditions.
- If you plan to purchase medication using the UCEAP Travel Insurance coverage, you must fill and pay for medication when coverage is effective (14 days before the official start of the program). Do not assume that your local pharmacy knows about the UCEAP travel insurance policy. It is not the same as your campus health insurance coverage. You will need to pay for the medication and submit a claim to the UCEAP insurance.
- Find out whether your medication is legal in your UCEAP country.
- If traveling with a prescription containing controlled substances, check the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) website. The INCB is responsible for international drug control. If traveling with controlled substances, you must have a letter from your doctor. Generally, amphetamines (e.g., Adderall, Vyvanse) are illegal or unlicensed in other countries. Talk with your doctor to switch you to another medication.
- 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 depending on time zone changes.
- Get a letter from the prescribing physician, on letterhead, indicating your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen, including the generic name as brand names vary considerably around the world.
TRAVELING WITH PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS
- Keep the medication in its original packaging clearly labelled with your name, doctor’s name, generic and brand name, and exact dosage. Carry it in your carry-on luggage, provided it is in pill or solid form. For more information, particularly if your medication is a liquid, consult the US Transportation Security Administration, Traveling with Medications.
- Carry copies of all original US prescriptions.
- Carry the letter on letterhead from the prescribing physician for all prescribed medications, indicating your diagnosis, treatment, and medication regimen, including the generic names. This is extremely important in case you need treatment or a medication refill abroad.
Why is a letter from your treating physician necessary?
If your particular medication cannot be taken into the country, 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 to monitor side effects and dosage. 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 about the UCEAP travel insurance coverage for prescriptions, email@example.com. Read more in the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad, Health section.
Never mail medications abroad nor have them mailed to you. Customs may not accept them or they may impose high fines and you will need to follow a complex bureaucratic process to get your medications out of Customs.
Medical Alert ID
If you have significant allergies or chronic medical conditions, consider wearing a medical alert bracelet or a Medic Alert emblem. For more information, you can contact American Medical ID
If you are currently in treatment in the US, discuss all program details with your doctor so you can work on a plan in case you need to reach out for care. Carry a letter from your doctor (on letterhead) indicating condition, treatment history, and medication regimen, so a local physician can assess your needs.
Consider the country where you will be living and studying. Many countries do not have adequate resources. How will you manage your mental health while studying abroad – whether or not you have a pre-existing condition?
If you are taking a prescription medication, talk with your prescribing physician before departure about getting the supply you need for the length of your stay. Traveling through customs with medications for personal use can be problematic in countries where those medications are prohibited. Stimulants frequently used for attention deficit disorders, such as amphetamine or methylphenidate, may be problematic, along with narcotics. What substances are prohibited in any given country varies. For information about traveling with medications, refer to the Prescription Medications section in this guide.
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.
- Do not try to manage alone. Reach out to local staff.
- 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. Budget for this expense as you must pay up front and submit a claim to the insurance company for a refund consideration. Doctors, hospitals, and clinics will require you to pay bills at the time of treatment. You must then submit a completed claim form and paid receipts to the UCEAP insurance company. For information about the claims process, access Insurance Claims Process. If you have questions about your UCEAP travel insurance benefits contact ACI at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SINEWS, a multilingual therapy institute offered through HM Hopital de Madrid Spain. A bilingual licensed clinical psychologist is at the other end, to help you deal with emergencies 24/7. Call 619270148.
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.
For more information, read the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
, Health chapter
, Allergies section.
Refer to the US Department of State Italy and Spain country information.
Safety is our concern but it is your responsibility. Be proactive in protecting your personal health, safety, and well-being. Have an action plan.
With the right information - and by thinking ahead - everyone can play a part in minimizing or preventing personal risks. Observe and assess the risks, plan ahead to reduce them, and think how you would lessen the consequences if things go wrong. Start by outlining activities you plan to engage in through your program and/or during independent travel; label the risk and rate it based on the likelihood of harm and the severity of consequences. Consider measures you can take to reduce the severity and chance. Plan your itinerary carefully, let your friends and relatives know where you will be, and research the safest way to travel.
Be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate and unpredictable terrorist attacks, which make it impossible to protect yourself from. Remain vigilant in all public areas in your UCEAP city and country and wherever you travel. Many terrorist groups, seeking publicity for political causes within their own country or region, are not looking for student or higher education targets.
Terrorist attacks using vehicles are very hard to prevent and appear to be on the rise. If you are in a crowded public place, know how you can exit quickly, identify barriers or safe places where you can shelter-in-place, and watch out for any vehicles that appear to be going at very high speed.
Report anything suspicious to local authorities. Read all security-related correspondence and advice from local staff. Schedule direct flights, if possible. Avoid stops in high-risk airports or areas. Minimize time spent in the public area of an airport, which is a less protected area. Keep a mental note of safe havens, such as police stations, hotels, and hospitals. Have a plan for what you will do in the case of an emergency. If you are ever caught in a situation where somebody starts shooting, follow the active shooter guidelines: drop to the floor, get down as low as possible, and hide if possible. Cover yourself behind a solid object. Silence your phone. Do not move until the danger has passed.
Steps to manage or minimize risk and enhance your personal safety
- Familiarize yourself with all UCEAP resources and emergency support services while on UCEAP.
- Research potential risks you can encounter before you travel.
- Assess your surroundings. Observe and learn to recognize danger.
- Be attentive to what is unusual or threatening. Assess reasonable and safe options. Trust your feelings; if you feel threatened, act if safe to do so and leave the area immediately. Find somewhere more secure.
- Remain aware at all times. Do not walk around talking on the phone or listening to music on your headphones.
- When entering larger venues, always decide on a meeting place with those you are with in case you get separated. Always identify possible exits.
- Increase your safety and reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of crime by staying on top of your drinking. Know your limits. In many countries beer, wine and liquor in some countries contains a higher alcohol content than similar products in the US. Know what you are drinking and how much alcohol it contains.
- 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. 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 locally if you are in an emergency? Do your friends and relatives know how to reach you when you are traveling?
Registration with the local US Embassy or Consulate
Register online with the US embassy through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program
(STEP), a free service for US citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country. Receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans.
Registration with the UCEAP Security Provider
You will be automatically registered with iJET International, the University of California security provider. You will receive important security and informational messages about local conditions for your program country.
The University of California Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) has established policies and procedures and has contracted with emergency assistance and security providers, to help you minimize your risk exposure and enhance your safety. Refer to the UCEAP Guide to Study Abroad
, for more information. Access the US Department of State Students Abroad website for updated travel information.
Before traveling, always consult the host International Office and the US Department of State Students Abroad web resource
.You must comply with all travel advisories issued by the host university, UCEAP, and the Department of State.
Minimize your chance of becoming a victim
Petty crime is prevalent in Spain and Italy. Report lost or stolen items immediately to the police. Keep a copy of the police report for future UCEAP insurance claims and as an explanation of your loss.
Always be aware of your surroundings.
Do not walk alone at night.
Learn which areas of the cities to avoid.
- Look like you know where you are going, even if you do not. Plan before you go to an unfamiliar part of the city so you do not have to pull out a map on the sidewalk and advertise to thieves that you are lost.
- Dress to blend in. College sweatshirts, sweatpants, baseball caps, flip-flops, and shorts are all associated with Americans and will likely make you a target.
- Save emergency numbers in your phone. Carry a hardcopy version in case your phone is lost or stolen.
Protect Your Belongings
- Never carry large amounts of cash. Separate your cash and documents among various pockets.
- Carry your wallet in a front pocket, or in a security money belt/pouch under your clothing. Never carry valuables in your back pocket where it is subject to theft.
- Carry your purse/bag diagonally across your chest. Keep your hand on your purse or in your wallet pocket.
- Never put your purse, backpack, or other belonging at your feet or on the seat next to you. Keep belongings on your lap at all times, especially on the metro.
- Do not store your camera or other valuables in pockets where they can be removed without notice.
Drugs and Alcohol
UCEAP expects your to abide by the UCEAP Substance Abuse Policy.
Drinking even a small amount of alcohol can lead to dangerous or even deadly situations. Drinking can impair a person's judgment, coordination, and reaction time. Your reaction to the immediate effects of alcohol depends on body sice, genetics, and when and what you last ate.
- Stay in control of your drinking.
- You are vulnerable when you are drink, and become a potential target for criminals and other people that may take advantage of your impaired state. You are also more likely to have an accident.
- Never leave your drink unattended, or accept a drink from a stranger, as this may allow for someone to spike your drink. "Date-rape" drugs, GBH, and liquid ecstasy are examples of drugs used against victims in bars and clubs.
- Plan to take a licensed taxi back home. Store the taxi number in your phone.
Photocopies of Important Documents
Make photocopies of your passport, credit car/ATM numbers, emergency phone numbers, etc. Store them in a safe place (separate from the actual documents). Leave a set of copies with your parents. You might also choose to store this information in a private online account. If you lose your walled, purse, or backpack, you will have the copies to make it easier to process a new passport or new cards.
Avoid carrying your passport with you. Make a copy of the first page of your passport to use as a form of ID and leave your actual passport safe in your room. In the event your passport is lost or stolen, immediately notify the nearest US embassy or consulate, local authorities, and the Study Center.
Specific Risky Circumstances
While you are traveling in Italy, you are subject to Italian law. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. Persons violating Italian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. If you break local laws in Italy, your US passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution. Do not sign any documents that you do not understand until you are able to speak with the a US Consulate official. If arrested, request politely to speak with an official from the US. Mission.
Arrest notifications in Italy: While some countries will automatically notify the nearest US embassy or consulate if a US citizen is detained or arrested in that country, others may not. To ensure that the US is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest US embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
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.
Do not walk alone down deserted streets, including during the siesta.
Persons violating the laws of Spain and Andorra, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking illegal drugs in Spain and Andorra are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
Demonstrations & Protests
Avoid all large gatherings related to civil issues. Even seemingly peaceful rallies can spur violent activity or be met with resistance by security forces. Bystanders may be arrested or harmed by security forces using water cannons, tear gas, or other measures to control crowds.
If violence erupts or you feel is imminent, leave the area. If you cannot leave the area, seek shelter in large public buildings such as hotels, churches, stores, hospitals, and museums. Wait until the crowds have dissipated before going back outside.
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.
Bus travel in Italy is generally very safe with the most common threat being petty theft. Pay close attention to your belongings.
Obey local transportation laws and regulations
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, street kiosks and automatic vending machines. 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. UCEAP strongly discourages operating any kind of motorized vehicle. While in Italy, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. For more information, visit the Association for Safe International Travel
Make yourself visible and avoid dangerous behavior and situations.
Be careful and attentive. Traffic is heavy in major cities, and pedestrians are numerous. Sidewalks are sometimes narrow, congested, uneven, or nonexistent. Motorists may not stop for pedestrians in crossings. Look carefully in both directions before crossing streets. Cross only when using a marked crosswalk with a green avanti (“walk”) light illuminated. Traffic lights are limited and often disobeyed.
Spain has an excellent network of roads and highways. Public transportation in large Spanish cities is generally excellent and travel is usually secure. Do not drive. Spain has a high rate of car accidents, especially among young people.
In larger cities, subways, buses, commuter trains, trolleys and their associated stations are havens for thieves, pickpockets, and purse-snatchers. Use security money belts under your clothing. Keep loose items, such as cameras and purses, within a larger and securable carrying bag. Keep it in front of you, on your lap.
Rail service is comfortable and reliable, but varies in quality and speed. Intercity buses are comfortable and inexpensive.
- Travel during the day. If overnight travel is required, book tickets only on international rail lines, in a lockable cabin.
- Never travel alone.
- Use the highest class of travel and the most direct booking available.
- Train stations are usually open 24 hours a day and have limited security. Stay aware of your surroundings.
- Avoid using the station’s public restrooms if they are vacant or not guarded by an attendant.
Licensed taxis usually provide a more secure means of transport. Use only officially licensed taxis. They are governed by strict legislation and standards are higher than in unlicensed taxis. Licensed taxis are normally white with a red diagonal band on the door and will display a LIBRE (free) sign or an illuminated green light at night when they are available. Look for the taximeter inside the vehicle, and word TAXI painted on the outside.
If you have a problem or suspect you are being over-charged for a taxi ride, ask for an official receipt. The license number for the taxi should be located in a metal plaque by the passenger window. This number identifies a specific taxi and can prove useful in the event of forgotten property or if you decide to file a complaint.
Most cities have phone reservation and radio dispatch services for added security. Use only telephone-dispatched taxis after dark.
Road safety is a concern. Practice safe pedestrian behaviors:
- Pedestrian crossings are marked with black and white (zebra) wide striped lines. Use these indicated crossings.
- Cross streets at a corner, using traffic signals where available.
- If there is no traffic light at the crossing, the pedestrian has the right of way, but cross with caution. Spanish drivers do not usually stop at zebra crossings unless they are accompanied by traffic lights.
- Do not assume cars will stop or that they see you - always check to make sure both directions are clear.
- When going out at night, wear brightly colored or reflective clothing.
- Exercise increased caution where the view is restricted before you cross.
Several major earthquake fault lines cross Italy. Principal Italian cities, with the exception of Naples, do not lie near these faults; however, smaller tourist towns, such as Assisi, do lie near faults and have experienced earthquakes.
Sexual Violence & Sexual Harassment
If at any time you want to report any concerns or need immediate assistance, contact the local program staff immediately.
Rape is a criminal offense. The law criminalizes the physical abuse of women including by family members, allows for the prosecution of perpetrators of violence against women, and helps abused women avoid publicity. Sexual harassment is illegal, and the government effectively enforced the law. By government decree, emotional abuse based on gender discrimination is a crime.
The law prohibits rape, and violence against women. The government generally enforced the law effectively. The penalty for rape is 6 to 12 years in prison. The law sets prison sentences of six months to a year for domestic violence, threats of violence, or violations of restraining orders, with longer sentences if serious injuries result. The law also prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace.
University of California Policy
Every member of the UCEAP community should be aware that the University prohibits sexual violence and sexual harassment, retaliation, and other prohibited behavior (“Prohibited Conduct”) that violates law and/or University policy. The University will respond promptly and effectively to reports of Prohibited Conduct and will take appropriate action to prevent, to correct, and when necessary, to discipline behavior that violates this Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment. Report to the local partners and/or UCEAP staff if you suspect one of these behaviors has occurred.
Most college-related fires in the US 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.
Forest fires occur frequently in Spain during the summer months, especially in southern areas of the country.
Fire - Dial 112
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 US Department of State or CDC issues a Travel Advisory 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, UC security providers, US Embassy, US 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 evacuation on US government-arranged flights, that require US citizens to sign a promissory note with the government. The safe evacuation of UCEAP students, managed by UCEAP and its experienced security providers, is covered by UCEAP insurance. UC students are required to follow UC safety directives in the event of an evacuation.
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 US
- 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.
Carry the local UCEAP emergency contact information at all times.
Police, Ambulance, or Fire Department: 112
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Federal and State law and University policy, does not
discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, religion,
sex, gender identity, pregnancy,* disability, age, medical
condition (cancer-related), ancestry, marital status,
citizenship, sexual orientation, or status as a Vietnam-era
veteran or special disabled veteran. The University also
prohibits sexual harassment. This nondiscrimination policy
covers admission, access, and treatment in University programs
and activities. Inquiries regarding the University’s
student-related nondiscrimination policies may be directed to
the campus Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action
* Pregnancy includes pregnancy, childbirth, and medical
conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.