Studying abroad for a semester or a year is a great opportunity. You’ll get to visit another country, learn about a new culture, and get new experiences. And Italy is one of the best destinations to choose as it has a great academic reputation while being an accessible and beautiful country.
It does seem familiar to many students because they’ve seen movies and probably have some idea about the culture. Yet, it is still a completely different country, which might take some adjusting. If you are going to study in Italy here are some things to know.
Be Ready to Explore
Italy is conveniently located in the center of Europe. It is a great opportunity to explore and visit fascinating places. There are lots of cheap flight options and an amazing train system for comfortable transportation.
So be sure to plan some weekends out in Italy or other European countries. You can always delegate your essay to an online paper writer to get more free time on your hands. After all, such an opportunity doesn’t come every day.
Take Care of Documents
The only ID you’ll normally need is your passport. Take it with you and have a couple of copies ready. If you get an Italian student ID, you can take it with you together with a copy of your passport.
Usually, the original passport is needed only to cross the border to travel to other countries. Also, remember that when you are staying for more than 90 days in Italy, you’ll need a residency permit. One needs to apply to it within 8 days after landing in the country.
Prepare Some Cash
Another thing that might be unusual for international students is that locals mostly use cash. Not every shop or restaurant will be able to take cards for payment. So be sure to always have the necessary amount of money with you.
It is possible to withdraw the money from an ATM of course. MasterCard and Visa are the most accepted cards in Europe. American students need to consider that Discover is rarely accepted as well as American Express.
The Time is Different
Maybe you’ve heard about Italian time, maybe not. But the fact is that the pace of life here is a bit slower. It is just something to adjust to and be open-minded about.
For example, it is better to run errands in the morning while the shops are open. Many shops can be closed in the afternoon and a lot of restaurants do not serve dinner up to 7-9 pm. So be aware of that when planning your day.
It is also quite normal for a dinner to take time. Do not expect to get service at the speed of light. It is all about balance and enjoying the moment.
Learn Some Italian
Of course, English is widely spoken here. You’ll get help almost anywhere if you ask in English. But it is polite to learn some Italian. Something as simple as “hello” or “thank you” in Italian goes a long way.
Not only is it appreciated here, but also helps to blend in and get closer to the real culture behind the tourist attractions. Do not worry about your pronunciation, a try counts.
Be Ready to Walk
It is very common to walk a lot here. Whether you are exploring the city or just strolling in the afternoon, you’ll rarely see a lot of drivers. It is especially true for small cities. There is a convenient public transport system as well if you are not into walking. But it is so worth it to find new places, admire the architecture, and explore narrow streets.
The tip is easy – pack a pair of comfortable shoes with you. When planning a day out, take a bottle of water with you and maybe some snacks.
Dress Modestly in Holy Sites
Overall, Italians are more conservative with their fashion. If you want to blend in, add some neutral tones and more black to your wardrobe. Yet, it is not necessary.
What is tactful is to dress modestly in holy places. Even if you are not a believer, it is a simple case of being respectful to the culture. When visiting the Vatican or other religious sites, make sure to cover your legs and hands.
Do Not Over Pack
Try to be smart about what you take with you. There is no need to bring everything with you, especially utensils with different voltages. Anything you might need can be bought here. And you probably will have a lot to take home after this semester.
Take something that you’ll wear a lot, a good pair of shoes, comfortable clothing according to the weather forecast.
There is no wide network of free public Wi-Fi here. So it is completely normal for international tourists to get around without internet access for some time in a day.
People do not rely on smartphones here as much as in the UK or the USA. But you can use it as a camera to take pictures! Although it might be unusual for some, take it as a new experience and take a break from social media for a couple of hours a day.
Small Things to Remember
- Take your medications with you; if you use a prescription – take it too in case you need a refill;
- It is not common/expected to tip waiters as they get a living hourly wage;
- Summer is a tourist season so if it is a problem, consider coming in winter or autumn;
- Personal space is different here, it is normal for people to greet with kisses or shaking hands;
- Train tickets always need to be validated in the validation machines at the station. Otherwise, you might get a fine;
Studying in Italy is a marvelous experience for many international students. And even some things you’ll have to adjust to can be a new learning opportunity. Take care of the documents, be respectful, and be ready to travel and explore the country.