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

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.

HIGHER EDUCATION

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.

STUDYING AT AN ITALIAN UNIVERSITY

Classes and Credit Hours
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.

Study Habits
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.

Teaching Style and Interaction with Professors
Professors establish set office hours, but you should contact professors to arrange an appointment in advance.

Grades and Assessment
Grades are given on a scale of 0 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.

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.

IMPORTANT: In order for you to receive grades and credits for the courses you complete, you must follow the explicit instructions of your ISEP Host Coordinator. You may be required to present a libretto, a booklet, or other documentation, for your professor's signature after completing the course.

Visa and Residency

STUDENT VISA

You must apply for a visa through the Italian Consulate with jurisdiction over your permanent residence, not your school address. Please note that each consulate may differ slightly in its application requirements for the visa. The consulate’s website should indicate visa requirements, whether an in-person appointment is necessary, and hours of business. All questions regarding the visa should be directed to the consulate. ISEP Central cannot contact consulates on behalf of students.

It has been ISEP's experience that consulate requirements change frequently and that consulates will not accept incomplete applications or those that do not comply with each consulate's criteria. Start researching the visa process as soon as you are accepted to your ISEP program. Students holding visas are required to enter Italy within 60 days of the issuance of the visa. Remember to ask how long your relevant consulate takes to process the applications, so that you will not submit it too early or too late. Student visas are generally valid for the duration of your program.

Sample Required Documents

As a guide, the following are the visa requirements from the Italian Embassy in Washington, DC.. Follow the guidelines set forth by your consulate explicitly. Note that some consulates may require certain documents to be notarized and authenticated with the Apostille Seal of the Hague. Normally they will provide links to who can authenticate your documents.

  • Application form filled out completely, signed, with recent passport-size photographs (some consulates require students to sign the application in the presence of the consular officer);
  • Passport valid at least three months beyond the applicant's planned stay in Italy with enough blank pages to affix the visa;
  • Driver's license or State I.D. as proof of residence in the consulate's jurisdiction. Submit the requested document in original and photocopy;
  • Alien Registration Card, if not a U.S. Citizen, or valid U.S. INS visa ( except B1-B2);
  • Official Letters of Acceptance:
    A. From your host institution indicating that you have been admitted. The letter must be original, on the official letterhead of the institution, stamped with the official seal of the institution, and signed. The letter must contain the following information:
    1. Name of the student, and complete name and address of the host institution;
    2. Exact period of study (day/month/year) and weekly hours;
    3. The indication that tuition, room and board, and health insurance are covered or that you have made arrangements with the host institution for the same;
    4. the address of your housing in Italy.
    B. Some consulates may also require a letter from your home institution. The letter should be on university letterhead, bearing an authoritative signature and the seal of the institution. It should verify that you are enrolled at the university as a full-time bona fide student pursuing a degree program, and that you will return to that university to complete the degree program after your exchange in Italy. This may also include information about any financial aid that you might receive if you are anticipating receiving funds. Bring all of this information with you to the appointment.

    C. Certification Letter from ISEP; original and a photocopy (a copy of Participant Placement Acceptance Form – PPAF – in its entirety will meet this requirement).
  • Affidavit of Health Insurance: Proof of health insurance must be shown on your arrival to the local Police Office (Questura), the office in charge of issuing your residence permit (Permesso di Soggiorno per motivi di studio). After you have accepted your placement, ISEP will provide you with a letter explaining your health coverage. You will need to bring this AND your ISEP Health Insurance Cards to the consulate. IMPORTANT: Please read the section regarding insurance below. Failure to complete the steps outlined will complicate your immigration status in Italy.
  • Affidavit of Financial Support: Your parent or guardian must complete this form to provide financial guarantees during your stay in Italy. The person responsible for the student must provide proof of adequate financial means, attaching his/her recent bank statement or a letter from the bank with the balance of the account(s). Students who are financially self-sufficient should provide a notarized original letter addressed to the Italian Consulate stating that they own private means of support. If the applicant is a recipient of financial aid, the amount given for the semester should be indicated.;
  • Proof of suitable lodging: This should be addressed in your acceptance letter.
  • Copy of flight itinerary (including return flight)
  • Cost of the Visa: Verify before submitting a visa application;

If you plan to apply for your visa by mail, ISEP recommends that you mail your application and all documents by certified mail with return receipt, so that you will know the consulate received your documents. Mailed applications must also follow certain procedures. All signatures on the application and affidavit forms must be submitted in original and photocopy and must be notarized (photocopy only will result in the refusal of the application). Note that not all Italian Consulates will accept visa applications by mail. It is a good idea to bring copies of all documents with you to Italy in case you need them for your permesso di soggiorno.

PERMESSO DI SOGGIORNO

When you arrive in Italy, and obtain housing, you will be required to register within eight days with the police to obtain a permesso di soggiorno (residence permit). You will need two copies of your passport photograph and proof of insurance. The current cost of the permesso di soggiorno is approximately 160 euros.

INSURANCE

Students are required to purchase the ISEP insurance as it will provide coverage during travel time, cover medical evacuation and repatriation, and satisfy the Italian National Insurance standards. All ISEP students will be issued a letter explaining their insurance coverage that should be submitted to the Italian consulate as a part of the visa application. This letter will be sent directly to the home ISEP coordinator.

Students must bring their ISEP insurance papers with them when they visit the Italian consulate to get their visa and ask that the consulate stamp the insurance for approval. This is needed in order to get the "permit to stay" (permesso di soggiorno per studio) which will be completed upon arrival in Italy.

Students may also need to provide a translation in Italian of the ISEP insurance policy along with their confirmation of enrollment.

A NOTE REGARDING THE SCHENGEN AREA

Italy is a member of the Schengen area. Students should review the important regulations that dictate travel and visas within the Schengen area.

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

https://www.isepstudyabroad.org/guides-and-tips/health-safety

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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