A modern nation at the forefront of style, fashion and design, Italy combines new and old with more World Heritage sites than any other country in the world. Visit superb museums, explore small towns with wonderful history and enjoy gelato and espresso in this Mediterranean country with a family-oriented culture.



Languages Spoken:

Italian

Education System

HIGHER EDUCATION OVERVIEW 

There are three cycles of higher education in Italy: 

First cycle: bachelors: Laurea and Laurea Magistrale a Ciclo Unico (Laurea Magistrale a Ciclo Unico is a combination of the first and second cycles) 

Second cycle: masters 

Third cycle: doctorate, second-level masters and specialization school 

 

Most ISEP students will take courses at the bachelor level in a Laurea degree. A Laurea degree is composed of 180 ECTS credits and is normally completed in three years. The five- to six-year Laurea Magistrale a Ciclo Unico degree is usually reserved for architecture, law or medical sciences. 

Regular class attendance will be very important to your academic success in Italy. You may find that some professors do not take attendance, while others have strict attendance policies, where absences may affect your grade. Individualized learning is emphasized; there is a large amount of outside reading, and students study hard for exams. Professors establish set office hours, but you should contact professors to arrange an appointment in advance. 

 

STUDYING IN ITALY 

Courses 

Italian institutions offer the majority of their courses taught entirely in Italian. A selection of courses may be taught in English, partially taught in English, or have the option to complete course assignments, readings and exams in English.  

A pre-session Italian language course and/or Italian language course during the semester may also be offered.  

Registration 

With the exception of those participating in the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore International Curriculum, all students will register for courses after arriving in Italy. Normally you will have a trial period to determine which courses you want to register for. 

Course Load 

A typical, full-time, Italian student takes 30 CFU (crediti formativo universitario) units each semester. CFU credits measure the total amount of effort the student must put into a course, including outside study. Each CFU typically represents 25 hours of student work. One CFU credit equals one ECTS credit. 

Students taking courses in the International Curriculum at Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore should note that course credits are awarded in U.S. credit hours. Typically, these courses bear three U.S. credits unless otherwise noted. 

ISEP participants should speak with their home and host coordinators to determine the requirements for full-time enrollment. Your home university and Italian student visa may have distinct requirements. 

Exams & Grading 

Grades are given on a scale of zero to 30, with 18 considered the lowest passing grade. 

While grading policies will vary by course and university, many courses taught in Italian will have an important final exam, the esame di profitto, which will determine a large portion of your grade. Many of these exams are oral, but some may be written. The minimum passing grade is 18. 

Transcripts 

In order for you to receive grades and credits for the courses you complete, you must follow the explicit instructions of your host institution coordinator. There may be forms you need to fill out or postage to purchase for your transcripts to be sent to your home institution or ISEP. You may also be required to present a libretto, a booklet, or other documentation, for your professor's signature after completing the course. 

Visa and Residency

ALL students studying in Italy for more than 90 days must obtain a student visa prior to departing for Italy. You cannot obtain your student visa once in Italy and must apply in your country of residence. The student visa application process can take four months or more to complete, and students should begin the process IMMEDIATELY after accepting their ISEP program.

European Union and European Economic Community passport-holders and most students studying in Italy for less than 90 days (summer programs) DO NOT need to obtain a visa before arrival. 

Click here for ISEP's Application Guidelines for the Italian Student Visa. Please carefully review this document in its entirety before beginning the visa application process! 

Culture

COMMUNICATION STYLE

Greetings
Typically, Italian friends greet each other and say goodbye with a kiss on each cheek. A handshake is appropriate for professional introductions.

Space and Distance
The concept of personal space is less important in Italy than in other countries. Italians stand and talk closer than you may be accustomed. Italians are also more comfortable with physical touch throughout a conversation. It is common to see both male and female Italians walking down the street arm in arm.

GENDER ROLES

Women may receive some appreciative whistles and comments (Ciao Bella!) from men. Usually, these signs of appreciation are harmless and are best ignored. Smiling and laughing at the attention may be viewed as an invitation for further communication. Dressing more conservatively and "blending in" is a practical way of minimizing unsolicited comments.

REGIONALISM

Italy is made up of 20 different regions, each with their own regional culture. Each region also has their own dialect and dishes. Historically Italy’s northern regions have stronger economies and a lower rate of unemployment. Personal identity is strongly tied to a person’s birth region.

FOOD

Italy is arguably most famous for its gastronomical delights, and Italian cuisine is regional. What is commonly considered "Italian" food in the U.S. (pasta and tomato-based sauces) originates from the southern regions of Italy. The naval port of Naples is most well-known for pizza and seafood, while northern regions of Italy offer more cream-based white sauces, risotto and polenta. Sicily has lemons the size of grapefruits, blood oranges and a multitude of other fruit due to its temperate climate.

RELIGION

The national religion of Italy is Catholicism. Although Vatican City is its own country, it is situated in the middle of Rome. The vast majority of Italians consider themselves Catholic, however, a smaller percentage consider themselves practicing Catholics.

Daily Life

COMMUNICATION STYLE

Greetings
Typically, Italian friends greet each other and say goodbye with a kiss on each cheek. A handshake is appropriate for professional introductions.

Space and Distance
The concept of personal space is less important in Italy than in other countries. Italians stand and talk closer than you may be accustomed. Italians are also more comfortable with physical touch throughout a conversation. It is common to see both male and female Italians walking down the street arm in arm.

GENDER ROLES

Women may receive some appreciative whistles and comments (Ciao Bella!) from men. Usually, these signs of appreciation are harmless and are best ignored. Smiling and laughing at the attention may be viewed as an invitation for further communication. Dressing more conservatively and "blending in" is a practical way of minimizing unsolicited comments.

REGIONALISM

Italy is made up of 20 different regions, each with their own regional culture. Each region also has their own dialect and dishes. Historically Italy’s northern regions have stronger economies and a lower rate of unemployment. Personal identity is strongly tied to a person’s birth region.

FOOD

Italy is arguably most famous for its gastronomical delights, and Italian cuisine is regional. What is commonly considered "Italian" food in the U.S. (pasta and tomato-based sauces) originates from the southern regions of Italy. The naval port of Naples is most well-known for pizza and seafood, while northern regions of Italy offer more cream-based white sauces, risotto and polenta. Sicily has lemons the size of grapefruits, blood oranges and a multitude of other fruit due to its temperate climate.

RELIGION

The national religion of Italy is Catholicism. Although Vatican City is its own country, it is situated in the middle of Rome. The vast majority of Italians consider themselves Catholic, however, a smaller percentage consider themselves practicing Catholics.

Health and Safety

Your health and safety is our number one priority. Please read and reference the Health and Safety section of the ISEP website for general information regarding health and safety abroad. 

Detailed information about Italy can be found here. Please pay special attention to the Safety and Security, Local Laws and Special Circumstances and Health sections. 

Note: Information sourced on this page is provided by the U.S. Department of State. Non-U.S. nationals should disregard the Embassies and Consulates and Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements sections. 

Currency

MONEY MATTERS


Currency

Italy uses the euro, which has the same value in all euro-zone countries. There are seven euro notes (5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros) and eight euro coins (one, two, five, 10, 20 and 50 cents, and one and two euros). It is smart to keep track of exchange rates between the euro and your home currency.

Customs Regulations
Travelers entering Italy should declare all currency in their possession. Declarations must be made on form V2, available from customs authorities or on incoming flights. This form, which is stamped by customs upon arrival, must be shown on departure in order to export foreign (including U.S.) currencies. There are no limits on the amount you may bring into Italy; there may be a maximum amount that can be exported per person.

Banking
Students can open either a conto estero or a conto corrente. You will need your passport for identification. Banks are generally open Monday through Friday only, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. It is not unusual for banks to be closed by strikes; so it is a good idea to transact bank business early in the week and to have an alternate plan such as cashing a check at an American Express office if the bank should be closed. Most restaurants and retail stores deal in cash.

ATMs are very common throughout cities in Italy. An American ATM card connected to a major network can be an easy way to access money deposited in a U.S. bank.

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