Before You Go
Passport & Visa
If you do not already have a valid passport, apply for one immediately. You can pick up an application form and instructions at a county clerk’s office or post office. You can also download an application from the Internet at http://travel.state.gov/passport. Turnaround time can be as much as fourteen weeks, so submit your application promptly.
You are required to obtain a 90-day (short stay) student visa for your stay in Ascoli Piceno before you leave the U.S. If you plan to stay in Italy for more than 90 days, the program staff in Ascoli Piceno will assist you to register with the authorities and to apply for a stay permit (permesso di soggiorno) once you have arrived. You will be responsible for the cost of the permit, which is approximately $125.00. The visa, which is a stamp in your passport that permits you to travel or reside in Italy for a stated period of time, is issued by the Italian consulate in the U.S. UNH-in-Italy will send students documentation and instructions for applying for a student visa. For this purpose, it is essential that you have your passport by mid-October for the spring term and by mid-March for the fall term. If you are not a U.S. citizen, contact the Italian consulate for visa instructions. Spring semester students will have a shorter time frame in late fall to make visa arrangements.
UNH students submit their visa applications to the Italian Consulate in Boston. Applications are submitted by appointment. You should call the consulate at least 3 months prior to your departure date to make your appointment. Non-UNH students must submit their applications to the appropriate consulate under whose jurisdiction they fall.
Italian student visa regulations are getting more complicated and time consuming so you are advised not to leave the U.S. for any international travel before the program begins. If you must be out of the country more than a couple of days immediately prior to the program start date, there is no guarantee that the consulate will process the visa in time for your departure.
If you will be abroad prior to the start of the program, please be advised that it is nearly impossible to obtain a student visa outside of the U.S. In addition, consulates and embassies outside the U.S. are generally unfamiliar with student visa requirements as they relate to U.S. students and will often provide conflicting or incorrect information that will ultimately delay the visa application process and jeopardize your chances of obtaining a visa in a timely manner. Therefore, you should return to the U.S. to obtain your student visa.
Finally, keep in mind that you will have to surrender your passport to the consulate for several weeks before the program starts.
When you arrive in Ascoli Piceno, the program staff will provide assistance for you to register with the authorities and, if necessary, to apply for a stay permit (permesso di soggiorno). As part of the registration process, you will complete a “kit” that you will submit to the post office. The receipt that you receive from the post office serves as your temporary permesso di soggiorno. Do not discard the receipt! It is a legal document and should be kept with your passport at all times.
Before leaving for Italy, make two copies of all your important documents (passport, bank card, credit cards, traveler’s checks and travel itinerary). Keep these in a safe place, leaving one copy with phone numbers and contact information at home in the U.S. in case any of these documents are lost. You might also want to scan your documents and send those to your e-mail box.
Requirements for health insurance coverage vary among the UNH-in-Italy member schools. Make sure that your policy is valid outside the U.S. and that you understand its terms and benefits. Most policies require you to pay for medical care at the time of service and then file for reimbursement from your American insurance company. You will have to demonstrate to the Italian Consulate that you have medical insurance to obtain a student visa.
In addition, the Italian government requires you to purchase Italian medical insurance called INA Assitalia to obtain the permesso di soggiorno. This limited policy will cover you in case you need emergency hospital treatment, but it does not cover outpatient services, office visits, minor illnesses or medications. UNH-in-Italy purchases this policy on your behalf.
UNH-in-Italy Statement of Medical History
All UNH-in-Italy students are required to complete the UNH-in-Italy statement of medical history and return it to the University of New Hampshire. The form is included in your acceptance packet. If you are on medication or have been diagnosed with a condition that could become serious, it is extremely important that you provide a complete medical report including symptoms to look for, recommended first aid and therapies, etc. This precaution cannot be overstated because the time lag between admission to hospital and treatment is magnified when there are language barriers. The more information you and your physician can provide the Resident Director on your statement of medical history form, the better you can be assisted in case of need.
If you currently take medications, talk to your physician or nurse practitioner about arrangements for continuing the medications abroad. Any medications taken overseas should be left in their original containers and be clearly labeled. You should carry a letter from your physician describing the medical condition and any prescription medications, including generic names of prescription drugs. Be prepared for the possibility of having to see a physician abroad, to authorize continued treatment during your time overseas. Note that prescription medications vary from country to country in name, potency, and purity and may NOT be sent to you through international mail.
Health Exams and Special Conditions
Prior to departure have a general physical exam if you haven’t had one recently and make sure that you are up to date on all shots. You should also have a dental checkup.
If you suffer from life-threatening allergies (e.g., penicillin) or have a condition (e.g., diabetes) that may require emergency medical care, you should carry some sort of identification on you to that effect.
International Student ID Card
Although these ID cards are of limited value in Italy, they do entitle you to discounts in many other countries on transportation, accommodations, and admissions to museums, theaters, historical sites, etc. In addition, ISIC cards purchased in the U.S. provide limited accident, hospitalization, and medical evacuation insurance. The ISIC is available at the UNH ID Office, located in Holloway Commons. It costs $22.00 (the ID office will only accept cash or checks). You must present a passport sized photo, which can be obtained at Media Services, your UNH ID, and one other form of identification. The ID Office hours are Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM. Applications and more specific information about the ISIC and its insurance coverage are available on the ISIC web site or at the ID office. Cards can also be purchased online at http://www.myisic.com.
The UNH-in-Italy fee covers tuition, textbooks (except Italian language books), lodging, excursions, group social activities, INA Assitalia health insurance, and damage deposit. It is set by your home university. The fee is paid to your school (or, for non-consortium students, directly to the University of New Hampshire).
In addition to the fee paid to your home institution, you will need funds in Italy for food, all personal and incidental expenses, and vacation travel. These costs vary significantly from student to student because they are based on individual spending habits and lifestyle, but in general, costs in Italy are high. The dollar’s changing value will also affect costs.
One-time variable cost
Estimated variable monthly costs:
Groceries and meals: $250 - 360
Incidentals & personal expenses: $260 - 450
Vacation travel: $150 - 560
Total estimated variable cost (TEVC) per month: $660 - 1,370
Total Estimated Variable Costs for semester: $1,980 - 4,110
Managing Your Money
The European Union monetary unit is the Euro (€). The euro functions similarly to the U.S. dollar in that it is subdivided into 100 cents. There are eight euro coins denominated in 2 and 1 euros, then 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents. Each euro coin has a common European face and a face designed by each country that can be used in every monetary member country. There are seven euro notes that are differently sized and colored, and come in denominations of 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. The notes, unlike the coins, do not have national sides and are completely uniform. For information on the euro, visit http://europa.eu.int/euro/entry.html. For current exchange rates, consult www.oanda.com.
1) Bring at least 200 euros for the first days’ expenses.
2) Bring an ATM (i.e., Cirrus or Plus debit card) card with a four-digit personal identification number (PIN). With it you can withdraw funds directly from your U.S. checking account at ATM machines throughout Europe at the most favorable exchange rates. This the most popular way to obtain cash, but machines are occasionally out of service or hard to find, so bring a fallback source of funds, such as a major credit card or traveler’s checks.
3) Bring a credit card with a four-digit PIN. Visa and MasterCard can be used to obtain cash advances from bank ATMs. The credit card company charges a fee for the service, and computes interest from the date of withdrawal. Verify both your cash advance and credit limits before you leave the U.S. Credit cards can also be used to charge major expenses, but they are not widely used for small transactions. Do not expect to be able to charge all of your purchases. Keep a record of all credit card numbers and emergency telephone numbers in case of theft. Keep PINs separate from cards.
With an American Express card you can cash personal checks on your U.S. account at American Express offices throughout Europe. Ascoli Piceno has no American Express office; the nearest one is in Rome. Bring your U.S. checkbook if you plan to use this option.
4) Bring fallback funds in traveler’s checks to use when all else fails.
When packing for a year, semester or summer in Ascoli Piceno, one should keep in mind the following information:
• Research how many pieces of luggage can be taken on an international flight and what is the allowed weight limit for each piece.
• Make sure the luggage meets all of the safety and customs requirements for international flights.
• Always keep valuables such as money, passport and camera equipment in a carry on bag, which should stay with you at all times during the flight.
• Carry a change of clothes in your carry-on bag in case your luggage is delayed.
• Shipping packages or boxes to the UNH-in-Italy Program Center is NOT RECOMMENDED. See below for more information on shipping.
• Personal belongings should be packed in suitcases of manageable size—a military duffel bag or travel backpack can be useful. These should be clearly labeled with the student's name and address. A weekend bag or backpack is most useful for short trips.
• Former students advise against bringing a large amount of clothing. There is adequate closet and storage space for a moderate wardrobe and, as the year progresses, souvenirs and other items purchased during travels will accumulate.
• Try not to bring clothing emblazoned with the American flag or other symbols of the U.S.A. While wearing such clothing is normal and expected in the United States, wearing it in Europe or other continents is imprudent and risky.
• It cannot be over-emphasized that Italian buildings are inadequately heated by U.S. standards. The UNH-in-Italy Program Center is housed in a building that contains marble and stone, so the chill and the dampness of late fall, winter, and early spring permeate the building, even when the heat is on. Students should bring warm clothing for the cooler months. While the summer can be very hot, air-conditioning in private homes and apartments is not common in Italy. The UNH-in-Italy Program Center does not have air conditioning.
• Since clothing prices can be high all over Italy, bring your main wardrobe items from the U.S. Plan a compact, flexible, mix and match wardrobe—not a large one. Remember that Italians are extremely fashion conscious, and both men and women dress with style and flair. Students can get away with somewhat more informal clothing. Bring a few lightweight clothes for the warm weeks in the fall and spring. Rely on drip dry clothing, especially if you plan to travel.
• Any appliance you bring should be compatible with the 220 voltage in Italy. If you plan to use a converter for a radio, tape player, hair dryer, etc., bring one from the U.S. with dual voltage settings.
• Passport and visa letter
• Credit and ATM cards
• Traveler’s Check and Traveler’s Check Counterfoils(carried separately)
• Approximately 200 Euros
• U.S. cash ($100)
• Insurance Information
• International Student ID
• Prescription Medicines
• Five passport size photos of yourself (not wearing glasses).
• Official letter of admission (lettera d’iscrizione) that is issued with the student visa.
• Photocopies of your passport, IDs, credit cards, ATM card or any other important items.
Healthcare Needs (some of this can be purchased upon arrival)
• A copy of all your prescriptions, clearly typed with the generic name of the drug.
• Antiseptic Cream
• Medications for colds and upset stomachs (Aspirin, Tylenol, etc.)
• Extra eye-glasses, prescriptions, contact lenses, contact solution
• Feminine Products
• Clothing that is easily washed, drip-dried and “layer-able”
• A nice outfit for special occasions (e.g., opera)
• Sturdy, comfortable walking shoes (Be prepared for lots of walking!) and slippers
• Warm winter coat, sweaters, hat, gloves, and scarf
• Alarm clock (battery)
• Backpack (large enough for weekend travel)
• Camera (simple) & extra batteries
• Ipod or MP3 player
• Laptop Computer (there is wireless at the Program Center, but not in the apartments)
• Travel guides
• Ziplock bags (to keep things dry)
• Good Italian grammar book and dictionary for reference
• Telephone, fax and e-mail contacts for your academic advisors
Packing is an important aspect of your planning. You will be traveling thousands of miles, and packing lightly and efficiently is very important because you will have to carry your luggage when you are jet lagged and tired, you may have to cope with crowded commuter trains, you will certainly buy things, and you need to have room to take them home; if you are going abroad in the spring you will have to pack the winter clothes you wore on your outward journey when you return; if you are faced with too much to take back, your choice will be between giving or throwing things away, or using the mail, which is costly and inconvenient.
Whether you are traveling alone or with a group, you must be able to carry your luggage by yourself. Remember, no one has ever complained about taking too little luggage. Part of the beauty of this experience is realizing just how few things you really need in order to get by!
To check yourself, once you are packed, take your bags and run around the block with them. Pretend you are running to catch the last train for the airport and you have no money left to change your flight. Are you sure that everything you packed is essential?
If at all possible, you should avoid having packages mailed to you in Italy. Packages are subject to customs taxes, which can be quite expensive. They can be held up in customs for several weeks and will frequently not be delivered to the mailing address, but instead will have to be picked up at a storage depot. If you are receiving a package, you need to know the exact contents and value otherwise you may not be able to claim it. Fees levied on packages arriving in Italy from the States are based on the value of the contents determined by the Italian Post Office and customs regulations. These charges can be exorbitant even for items marked “Used Personal Effects.” Since insuring a package only calls attention to its possible value, senders should consider no insurance and/or declare only minimal value. To avoid disproportionate fees to be paid for custom clearance by the receiver, do not declare the value of the content and do not insure it for any amount. Just put a symbolic value of $1 on the custom green slip. Customs charges are typically 30% of the value of the package. Packages are usually opened by customs at random, and those not stopped for duty will be delivered to the Rome Center. The student must pay the customs' tax at the porter's desk before claiming it. Small packages generally arrive without problems and only a small service fee is charged. The U.S. Mail Service is the best way to send packages. FedEx, UPS or DHL are useful for documents or minute articles when speed is the main factor. For other mail, you may provide the program office as your mailing address:
University of New Hampshire in Italy
Attn: Your name
Via Emidio Pacifici Mazzoni, 2
63100 Ascoli Piceno (AP)
Mailing packages to the U.S. is quite expensive. You can explore the rates at http://www.poste.it/online/paccocelerein/application/privati/index.html.
Parcel post packages from the U.S. to Italy can be sent air mail (from 7 to 10 days) or regular mail (about 6 weeks). Federal Express and UPS packages can take up to a week. If you must ship boxes to Italy, plan to have them arrive after you do. Also, do not expect to have prescription drugs or contact lenses sent from the United States. Clearing them through customs involves major difficulties. Please note that UNH-in-Italy cannot be responsible for receiving or retrieving your packages.