PRE-DEPARTURE GUIDE 2009
Welcome to Rome, Italy!
Pre-Departure Guide for Lorenzo de‟ Medici (LdM) Students
I. Introduction…..p. 3
II. Before You Leave Home
A. Important required documents …..p. 3
1. Passport…….p. 3
2. Student Visa……p.3
3. Declaration of Stay/Permit of Stay…..p. 4/5
B. Cell Phone…..p. 5/6
C. Local currency & Banking
1. Local currency…..p. 6
2. Banking……p. 6
3. Budget……p. 6/7
4. Emergency funds……p. 7
D. Student ID Cards
1. International Student ID Card (ISIC)……p. 7
2. Hostelling International Card…..p. 7
E. Rail Passes…..p. 7
2. Carta Verde
1. Important documents to bring to Italy…...p. 8/9
2. Medication….. p. 8
3. Clothing & Other items….. p. 8
4. Items not to bring…..p. 8
5. School Supplies….. p. 9
6. Electronic Devices…… p. 9
7. Photocopies to leave with your family…… p. 9
8. Important notes for packing…… p. 9
9. Some notes on clothing…… p.9
G. Students with special needs and disabilities
1. Disability Resources …… p. 9
2. Physical accommodations and support…… p. 9
H. Social issues
1. Women traveling alone/living abroad……. P. 10
2. Religion …… p. 10/11
I. Health/Vaccinations…..p. 11
J. Weather…..p. 11
K. Housing…..p. 11/12
a) General Information
b) Don‘t Let the Bed Bugs Bite
L. Mail & Packages…..p. 12/13
III. Pre-Departure Planning Checklist & Useful Websites…..p. 13
IV. When You Arrive in Rome…..p. 14
A. Getting Settled…..p. 14
1. Calling home 2. Using a calling card
B. Important Phone Numbers: EMERGENCY, medical services…..p. 15
C. Jet lag…..p. 15
D. Culture Shock…..p. 16
E. Getting around the city…..p. 16
F. Safety Tips …..p. 17
G. Shopping …..p. 17/18
H. Cultural Hints …… p. 18
I. Useful phrases…..p. 19/20/21
J. Orientation meeting…..p. 21
V. Policies and Rules
A. Policies on conduct…..p. 22/21/23
B. Academic semester regulations…..p. 23
C. Attendance regulations…..p. 24
You are about to embark upon what we hope will be one of the most enriching adventures of your lifetime! The Lorenzo de‘ Medici (LdM) Pre-Departure Guide has been created to assist you in preparing for your stay in Italy. It gives you a clear overview of the issues to take care of before you leave your country. Good planning and proper time management of your responsibilities are fundamental in these final stages before your departure.
The guide provides you with practical advice you will need:
; Before you leave home, including a Pre-Departure Planning Checklist
; When you arrive in Rome
We look forward to seeing you!
Lorenzo De‘ Medici
US Enrollment Services Office
II. BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME
A. IMPORTANT REQUIRED DOCUMENTS
The most important document you will need before planning your trip abroad is a passport.
Obtaining the passport is your responsibility. Your passport must be valid for at least three full
months after your return date! It usually takes up to six weeks to get your passport, but during
peak travel times it may take longer. It is important to include your departure date on your
passport application. For further information about getting or renewing a U.S. passport, fees and
obtaining passport application forms please visit the official website of the U.S. Government of
State at: http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html.
Please make 2 copies of the face page of your passport and your Student Visa and 1 full copy of
your passport including ALL pages even the blank ones.
? Full copy including all pages is needed to apply for the Permit of Stay in Italy
? One copy to carry with you at all times when abroad. We suggest you keep your passport at a
safe place in your apartment (in Italy) and to carry a copy, not the original passport, with you at
all times in case you need it for identification purposes, such as changing money, renting a car,
? One copy to leave at home with your family. If your passport is lost or stolen, it is easier to
replace it if you have a copy.
2. STUDENT VISA
All Non-European Union citizens/students must obtain a student visa for Intersession, Summer and
Semester programs. Students must contact the Italian Consulate or Embassy of their jurisdiction to
inquire about the necessary documents that must be presented when applying for a Study Visa.
It takes approximately four to six weeks, and a maximum of eight, to receive it. A minimum three
months before your date of departure is required in order to apply.
The estimated processing time has much to do with how prepared you are, and having ALL
documents that are required. We strongly advise students to make arrangements for the visa well
in advance of travel as waiting time and lines become difficult during peak travel periods. Your
visa will be affixed to a page in your passport.
The following documents are usually needed to apply for a student visa:
; Valid passport
; A letter of acceptance from LDM
; A certified bank letter indicating your financial support
; Proof of health insurance. If you purchase international health insurance the
insurance policy must specify that you have coverage abroad.
For more information please see the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs‘ website:
http://www.esteri.it/visti/index_eng.asp. You must contact the consulate for your region for
specific information on its required documents and procedures, as each consulate has different requirements.
Students with a study visa may only stay for the period indicated on the study visa (1 to maximum 12 months). Students who are tourists may stay for a maximum period of 3 months in Italy. The application for the Permesso di Soggiorno, for studentds studying in Italy for more than
90 days, must be made within 8 days of your arrival.
**Note: Please ensure upon picking up your visa that the Italian Consulate issues a cover letter stating they have seen all your original documents. This is important to make copies of and to
bring with you to Italy.
The request for a study visa for all periods of study from the respective Italian Consulates in the
students‟ city of residence is mandatory. In the event that a consulate office does not issue a study visa, the negation of such must be requested in writing.
3. DECLARATION OF STAY/ PERMIT OF STAY (Permesso di Soggiorno)
thWe wish hereby to confirm that Law No. 68 of 28 May 2007 regarding the permit of stay for
ndperiods of stay inferior to 90 days which was passed and came into force on the 2 of June
2007 after publication in the Official Gazzette and once again modified by a Decree on the th26 of July 2007 is still in force. All persons who come to Italy for a period of less than three months for visits, tourism, business and study no longer require the Permit of Stay, but necessitate a Declaration of Presence as follows:
If a foreigner comes directly from a country which does not adhere to the Schengen Agreement (i.e. a US student comes directly to Italy), he is not required to make the declaration of presence in that his passport will be stamped by frontier police. It is important for students to ensure that their passports have been appropriately stamped by the frontier police.
If a foreigner comes from a country where the Schengen Agreement is applied he is required to make a declaration of presence within 8 effective days of his arrival at the Questura in the province he is residing in.
The Schengen Countries are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden. This applies therefore to all students attending summer sessions and January Intersession. If a student has to make the Declaration of Presence he will be assisted by Platform 3000. All students coming on the January Intersession who do not come directly to Italy from the US but through a country adhering to the Schengen Agreement must register on the following link before departure for Italy. Registration may also be done once students arrive in Italy: www.platform3000.com/LDM/Spring2009.
For the Semester Students the permit of stay is required as the period is superior to 90 days.
thThe Decree passed on the 11 of December 2006 by the Minister of Internal Affairs regarding the new procedure instituted for the request for the ―permesso soggiorno‖ (permit of stay) for all purposes – tourism, study, work, family etc. has remained unchanged. The permit of stay is a mandatory document and especially necessary for all students who wish to travel in Europe while in Italy.
For the Spring Semester 2009 the processing of the documents for the permit of stay will be handled by Platform 3000. The link for the Spring Semester is
www.platform3000.com/LDM/Spring2009. It is important to inform students registering on this
link before departure for Italy, that although the credit card number is requested, no money is
debited from the card until after the collection of the documents for the permit of stay i.e.
during the first week of the Spring Semester.
The costs for the permit of stay are as follows:
Registered letter containing permit of stay documents Euro 30,00
Cost of the permit of stay Euro 28,50
The total cost of Euro 58,50 to be paid in cash or credit card by each student when consigning
the documents required for the permit of stay:
1. FULL PHOTOCOPY OF YOUR PASSPORT including ALL THE PAGES (blank pages included).
On arrival in Italy make a copy of the visa page which has been stamped at the Italian border.
2. COPY OF YOUR INTERNATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE POLICY (this health insurance is ONLY
valid if your policy specify says that you are covered abroad). Students who do not have
International Health Insurance will be required to purchase an Italian Emergency Health
Insurance Policy. This will only cover Emergency medical services in Italy.
3.A copy of the LDM acceptance letter which you presented to the Italian Consulate or
Embassy bearing their official stamp or seal. This letter should have been returned by the Italian
Consulate together with your passport and with your visa in it.
4.A Revenue Stamp Euro 15,00 (this will be supplied by the Scuola Lorenzo de‘Medici).
The sum of Euro 25,00 covering the processing fees by will be debited from each student‘s
credit card by Platform 3000 only on consignment of the documents for the permit of stay. This
sum may be paid in cash as well.
B. CELL PHONE
For purposes of safety and/or in the case of a national or personal emergency all students studying at the Scuola Lorenzo de‘Medici MUST carry a mobile phone at all times so that you are available to be contacted 24/7 while studying abroad. You may make use of the FREE cellphone/SIM card rental
included in the LDM study abroad program or bring your own personal mobile phone/blackberry. Since student apartments do not have land-lines, the mobile phone is also useful to keep in contact with family, faculty and friends.
If you decide to make use of the FREE cellphone rental supplied to LDM students, Platform3000 in collaboration with PicCell Wireless, must be contacted. If you order early enough (14 days in advance)
your phone will be shipped to you free of charge before you leave the US. In this way you can give
your phone number to your parents and friends before you leave and have a phone while travelling to Italy in case of an emergency.
; Rental of a GSM Cell-phone including a SIM card (or just the SIM card if you have your own
mobile phone) is provided FREE to students. Students are responsible for the payment all
outgoing calls they make and additional costs they incur while using the service.
; Order your cell phone online at least 2 weeks prior to your departure.
; Your phone will be shipped to you FREE of charge before you leave the U.S.
; All incoming calls are FREE (including from U.S.) while you are in Italy.
; Reduced rates in the local currency apply.
; Low rates to call U.S.A.
; English-speaking Customer Care located globally. Free to call from Piccell phone.
; Rental offered for any length of time – you choose rental period.
; Regular SMS billing notification. Billing is in US dollars.
; Cell phones function throughout Europe. LDM students have access to free SIM cards for the
European countries they will be visiting. For more information consult the website.
; All phones have Alarm clocks, Voicemail, text messaging, call waiting and caller ID
; Lost or stolen insurance offered.
; PicCell Wireless staff will provide assistance to students at orientation in Florence. All phone orders must be done online! To order your phone, you must contact the office with whom you enrolled in order to get the proper link.
Please order online at least 2 weeks prior to your departure for FREE SHIPPING.
Please note that the cell phone system in Europe is very different from the United States system. If you have questions about this, please contact PicCell Wireless at firstname.lastname@example.org or call toll
free in the US at 1-877-235-5742.
Special for US Residents.
If you have a U.S. phone number you would like to take abroad while staying overseas, check out our ―U.S. Virtual Number Plan‖. This plan will route any calls made to your US phone number directly to your international phone!
C. LOCAL CURRENCY & BANKING
1. Local Currency
The Italian unit of currency is the EURO which is indicated by the symbol ? before the
amount and it is divided into cents. Bank notes come in 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500. They
increase in size progressively according to the value and have different colors. There are 8
different coins which have common European face and on the reverse, a different symbol
representing each of the EU countries. Check currency conversion websites for current rate
of exchange. The same currency is also used in the following 11 European countries: Austria,
Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Portugal and
Check currency conversion websites such as http://www.xe.com for daily currency conversion
rates. By calculating Euro equivalents for $1, $5, $10, and $20 (and writing them down if you
easily forget), students should adjust quickly after the first few days of travel.
Some students find it comforting to obtain $50 to $100 in Euros from their local bank before
leaving for Italy (and Rome). This will allow you to become familiar with the look and feel of the
currency, and you will have one less thing, when tired, to think about upon arrival at the airport.
Please remember however that most U.S. travelers are able to obtain Euros from ATMs in the
airport in Rome without problems (see section below on ATMs).
Banks generally offer the best exchange rates but also charge a commission. Many independent,
non-bank exchange offices do not charge commission, but offer poor rates of exchange.
ATM cards - You may be able to withdraw money from your bank account at home by using
your ATM card if your bank card has either Cirrus or Plus symbol. You can find a machine with the
same symbols and be able to access funds from your CHECKING account.
MasterCard-Visa - You can obtain a cash advance from your credit card at an ATM machine with
the Visa or MC symbols if you have a PIN number (different from your ATM PIN; Get your PIN number
before you leave home). If you don‘t have a PIN number, you can usually get a cash advance at
an exchange office or at a bank.
American Express - There is an AmEx office in Rome in Piazza di Spagna, where you can
exchange money and traveler‘s checks with no commission fee. Also, if you are a cardholder,
you can cash personal checks and if you have an AmEx/Visa/Mastercard, you may get a cash
***Important Note: Be sure to let your bank and the credit card companies know you about your travel plans. Otherwise, European transactions could be flagged and service could be blocked.
You should make a budget plan that guides you in handling your money. In determining your
potential expenses for the semester, calculate your expenses on campus, (i.e. books,
entertainment, meals, etc.), while factoring in travel expenses, an emergency fund, and other
excursions or supplies. Money needed per semester varies depending on students‘ preferences.
udents on a small budget spend between $4000-$6000 per semester, and a lavish budget can be
$8000 or more per semester.
Remember, students enrolled in courses with field trips are responsible for paying entrance fees during class visits to museums and should budget extra money accordingly. Most museum visits occur in relation with specific classes and can total between $50.00 to $75.00 each per
Here are a few suggestions to keep your costs down:
; Walk whenever you can. (You‘ll see more and feel better too.)
; Avoid impulse buying.
; Shop for groceries rather than eating out.
; Keep a record of your expenses.
; Combine trips so as to get several things done at once. It will save time and money if you plan ahead for your trips by talking to those who have been there before and going over your guidebook.
4. Emergency Funds
In the event of an emergency, it is possible to have your parents wire money to you directly. This procedure takes about one hour on their part (more for you to retrieve it) and should be restricted to emergency use since there is a fee for both the service and transportation to the agency where you can obtain your wired funds. Please remember that the rate of exchange will be the official exchange rate on the day the transaction takes place.
An organization which provides wire transfer services is Western Union (800) 464464. You may want to call them before you leave to find out details and to see if this is even an option in the country or countries that you are studying in and visiting. There is a Western Union location inside the American Express building in Piazza di Spagna.
D. STUDENT ID CARDS
1. International Student ID card (ISIC)
The ISIC card permits you to get discounts at many museums, galleries, performing arts events and for travel. This card can be purchased through your home school, or AAA, or online through STA Travel. In Rome, you can buy this at the CTS travel agency.
2. Hostelling International Card
For inexpensive accommodations around the world see: http://www.hiayh.org/
E. RAIL PASSES
1. Eurail Passes must be purchased in the U.S. before you leave. These rail passes can also be
bought online. Please see www.eurail.com or www.raileurope.com for more information. The first
time you use this pass you must go to the ticket window at the train station to validate your ticket before your departure. In order to use a Eurostar train with your Eurail pass, you must still buy a supplement ticket. Note: Beware of fraudulent companies on the Internet selling fake rail passes! In Italy it is possible to purchase two types of cards in order to buy rail tickets at discount prices: 1) ―CARTA VERDE‖ which costs Euro 40,00 (for students between 12 - 26 years of age) and is valid for
a year. With this card, which may be purchased at the ticket office of the railway station, at authorized travel agencies or on line (see below) there is a 10% discount on standard prices (1? and 2? class) national trains and sleeping carriages and a 25% discount on travel in Europe. As discount airlines offer inexpensive flights to and from nearby cities of interest, this pass may less popular among travelling students. It is still good idea however for those students who anticipate travelling often while in Europe.
If you buy a train tickets for Eurostar Alta Velocità, Eurostar, Eurostar city and Tbiz on-line you save 5% on the ticket price.
As discount airlines offer inexpensive flights to and from nearby cities of interest, these passes may less popular among traveling students. It is still good idea however for those students who anticipate traveling often while in Europe.
1. Important documents you should bring to Italy:
a. Your passport with Student Visa d. Credit Card
b. All documents stamped by the e. International Student ID card
Italian Consulate f. Rail Passes (if any)
c. ATM card
a. Get enough prescription drugs for the entire stay and an extra supply. Note: Pack these in
b. Bring prescriptions from your doctor with you (to show as proof that you are allowed to have
the prescribed medication).
c. All prescriptions medications must be labeled clearly in your name to avoid any problems with
US prescriptions justify you having the medications; however, they are not valid in Italian pharmacies. For refills of prescription drugs, you will need to visit an Italian doctor here who will most likely be able to write you a prescription.
The drug Adderal, commonly used in the US for people with ADD or ADHD, is not available in Italy and is, in fact, considered a narcotic and is illegal. If you have a prescription for this drug, please contact the US Consulate/Embassy for further details. Doctors cannot supply it in Italy, and you will not be able to have it sent over, so plan ahead. The sharing of Adderal among students is considered a crime according to Italian law, and will be viewed by the LdM as a serious drug offense.
3. Clothing and Other Items (you may either bring or buy these items in Rome.)
? Bring proper clothing for weather conditions such as jeans, sweaters, etc. (see Weather section)
? Comfortable shoes: You will walk a lot! So, good thick-soled, closed shoes will provide protection
and warmth for your feet on the cobblestone streets. No flip-flops during rainy/cold weather (to
prevent infections). Please wear sneakers or closed shoes.
? Thick socks for fall/winter seasons
? Warm winter coat, gloves, scarves, hats
? Raincoat & umbrella (especially for Spring semester students)
? Contact lenses solutions and eye glasses
? Camera, film or sufficient memory, batteries (all of these can be more expensive abroad)
? Small bi-directional Italian-English Dictionary
? Travel Guides: Lonely Planet, Michelin Green Guides, Eyewitness Italy, and Let’s Go! etc.
? Journal for recording your experiences
? Flip-flops or sandals that can be used at pools, on the beach, or in showers
? Bathrobe, especially good for extra warmth on cold nights? warm pajamas and slippers are
? Backpack, book bag or duffel for carrying books, picnic lunches, or supplies during tours and
travel (perhaps one big enough for weekend excursions)
? Vitamins, aspirin (pain reliever), cough medicine, an antihistamine (especially if you know you
suffer from allergies), medicine for motion sickness
4. Items not to bring:
; Large electrical appliances (many hairdryers etc will blow the fuse in your apartment and will
not function properly even with a converter. It is better to buy a cheap one when you arrive
; Too much clothing (a handful of good outfits is all you will need)
; Cigarette cartons and alcohol
; Expensive jewelry.
5. School supplies
Most supplies can and should be purchased in Rome. As binder and paper sizes are different,
you will need to buy these items in Italy. Students in photography lab classes should find
information on required equipment enclosed. Additional information on materials for other classes will be given to you on the first day of class.
6. Small Appliances – Electronic devices
The voltage in Europe is 220 volts, 50 hertz. If you have appliances (over 60 hertz) from home, you must use a transformer as well as a plug adapter. We suggest that you do not bring any
electronic items other than a laptop computer. ―Elettrodomestici‖ stores sell small appliances as
well as household items.
7. Photocopies of documents to leave with your family
? Give a copy of your passport, a copy of your driver‘s license, and a copy of your credit cards
(both sides) to your family in the U.S. In case one of these is lost or stolen, it might be easier for your family to help replace it.
? Copy of your travel itinerary
? Contact information, your address in Italy (if you already know it)
8. Important Notes for Packing:
; Be aware of items that are prohibited by your airline. For more information on what you
cannot carry in your suitcase or carry-on bag, please call your airlines.
; Check your ticket or call your airline for luggage restrictions on size, weight, number of
luggage items, etc.
; Be sure to lock all luggage and keep the keys with you.
; During your journey, watch your bags at all times and do not accept packages from anyone.
; After packing, see if you can weed out any items you don‘t think you‘ll wear or use.
9. Some Notes on Clothing
Italians are famous for fashion, and this is not just about names like Gucci and Dolce e Gabbana. Italians have a whole different philosophy towards clothing. In the States, it is very common for young women, for example, to spend the summer in spaghetti strap tank tops and flip-flop sandals. Italian girls, on the other hand, would wear these things only at the beach or at the pool. And they rarely wear shorts. Likewise, Italians generally wear sneakers only if they are going to the gym. They believe in specific clothes for specific occasions, and they are not nearly as casual as Americans in their style of dress. While traveling around Italy, you should be aware (especially in the summer) that most churches require those who enter to be covered: no spaghetti straps and short shorts (shoulders and knees must be covered). So plan accordingly. At the very least keep a sweatshirt of scarf in your bag for such occasions. Keep in mind that clothing that is common in the States such as college regalia or sweatpants may make you stand out as a foreigner.
G. Students with Special Needs and Disabilities
1. Disability Resources
Many accommodations for disabilities that students are used to in the US are different or do not exist in Italy. Additionally, the experience of being in a completely different cultural environment can be stressful. As a result, accommodations that you may not have needed at home may become necessary in an unfamiliar setting. You should anticipate and arrange for
any disability accommodations at overseas sites well before your departure. Receiving accommodations once you are abroad will be more difficult and may not be possible.
2. Physical Accommodations and Support
Students should keep in mind that things will be different, including accommodations and attitudes toward persons with disabilities, and that there will be a period of adjustment to your new surroundings and culture. You can prepare yourself by seeking out as much information as possible prior to departure. In Italy in general, accommodations for those in wheelchairs are not as common, and many apartments and other buildings may not have elevators. Streets are often cobblestone, and apartment hallways and stairways can be ill-lit or circuitous.