Study Abroad in Florence, Italy

Get Started Today!


 

Yes, please contact me at the number I have provided regarding additional information about AIFS Study Abroad. We respect your privacy and will not sell your contact or personal information.

Apply Now!

Study Abroad in Florence: Social Identity & Access

One of the best things you can do before departure is enter into the experience knowing that your time abroad will be different than on your home campus. The resources, community and support available to you abroad will likely be different than your home campus as well. Your Resident Director will provide you with more details pre-departure and during orientation.

When abroad, let your Resident Director know if you are experiencing challenges. Being able to speak to someone about your experience can often be helpful. They can provide tips and resources for navigating this new environment. Please notify AIFS staff immediately of any incidents that make you uncomfortable or if you should happen to feel unsafe at all.

Our student resources website features additional information and accommodation forms for you to communicate any specific support you need during your time abroad. We encourage you to download and complete the appropriate form(s) from the site and return them to the Admissions Officer for your AIFS study abroad program. Letting us know before you arrive abroad will allow us to better assist you throughout your study abroad experience.

If you have mobility limitations or concerns, please let your Program Advisor or Program Manager and Resident Director know before your arrival so they can work with you directly. Students who require access to medications should ensure their prescriptions are legally permitted in country and should bring all required medication with them for the full duration of their program. Florence presents numerous challenges for visitors with disabilities trying to get around town, including cobblestones, hills, and few public transportation options. The campus is not wheelchair accessible. Awareness of accessibility issues and a culture of inclusion are steadily expanding, and the city is slowly implementing services such as accessible pedestrian signals at crosswalks (currently available only in some parts of the city center) and advice centers/resources for additional support. Students in the program are housed in local residential apartments which are not equipped for wheelchair users, however, AIFS staff is committed to finding alternative housing. Excursions and local visits can be wheelchair-accessible if needed. Most the restaurants on the meal plan are also accessible.

Students of a mature age may be one of the few within their program, although your participation is welcomed. There are many opportunities to engage with other students and locals throughout the program. On site staff can provide you with more information on this.

Students who have a service or emotional support animal should connect with their Program Advisor or Program Manager to get the most current information related to animals being permitted in housing, classes, and in the city.

The designation of being a first-generation college student is not as prominent a social identity in the Italian higher education system as it is in the US, so specific resources related to this in-country might be harder to find. All students will receive an on-site orientation led by the Resident Director to help you to navigate the new academic environment you will encounter and the day-to-day aspects of local life which might be unfamiliar. The on-site program will supply resources such as engagement opportunities, personalized support, contacts with professionals providing expertise in a variety of content-related areas, keynote speakers. In class, group projects and active learning are regularly incorporated in the curricula.

Italy is considered a gay-friendly country and regarded as increasingly culturally liberal, while some instances of homophobia may still occur. Same-sex unions have been legally recognized since 2016. In Florence there are several ways to get involved and stay informed through community groups. You will find some bars and clubs around town catering to the community, but the nightlife is quite mixed.

There are currently no efforts to introduce a neutral pronoun into the Italian language to use for those who identify outside the gender binary. This is due both to the structure of the Italian language and to the sociological and religious context of a predominantly Catholic country. Italy does not recognize a third gender. In Florence, gender-neutral accommodations like bathrooms are rare; on campus, students will find female and male bathrooms, as required by Italian law in public spaces. Although AIFS in Florence does not currently offer specific gender-neutral housing, students are welcome to express preferences and make specific requests, which will be accommodated when possible.

If you have neurological, intellectual or cognitive limitations or mental health concerns, please let your Program Advisor or Program Manager and Resident Director know any accommodations you require before your arrival so they can work with you directly. Students who require access to medications should ensure their prescriptions are legally permitted in country and should bring all required medication with them for the full duration of their program. During orientation week an English-speaking psychologist meets students to discuss mental health concerns and challenges that may arise during their time abroad. We strongly advise students who have counseling at home to discuss with their home doctor implementing a mental health plan while they are abroad. AIFS also offers their students an English-speaking, global teleconsultation service, connecting students to experienced medical personnel via phone call or video chat, this service is included in the program fees.

People of Color are minoritized in Florence and sometimes experience microaggressions and acts of racism. If students experience this while abroad, they are encouraged to report the incident. The city of Florence operates a help-line (open all days) for anyone experiencing an act of racism, hate-crime or discrimination, which will gather information and direct to any assistance the city may be able to offer.

Students should feel supported and protected regardless of religious affiliation in Italy. Italy has historically been an overwhelmingly Catholic country but this is now changing as significant numbers of Italians now self-identify as non-practicing or atheists. Islam is not recognized by the Italian State as a religion, there are only eight mosques in all of Italy, but many cultural centers and prayer rooms. The AIFS office staff will provide you with contacts to places of worship for your specific faith and a general list of places can be also found in the student handbook.

For students who have limited financial means, there are plenty of opportunities in Florence to experience local culture for free or inexpensively. The program and many classes arrange social and cultural activities in which students can participate for free or with a small contribution. Many museums offer free entrance on specific days. Students who have limited financial means can also benefit from the Meal Plan offered by the school. The vouchers they receive will allow them to experience and enjoy many restaurants as well as the traditional "trattorie." Your Resident Director will provide you with more information on affordable opportunities at orientation and throughout the program.

Italy celebrates its veterans with the marking of the end of World War I with its National Unity and Armed Forces Day. Since Italy spent the bulk of the war fighting the Austro-Hungarian Empire and peace on the Italian Front was separate from the rest of the Western Front, the end of the war – and Italy's veterans – are celebrated on Nov. 4.

We strongly advise students who have counselling for PTSD at home to discuss with their home doctor a mental health plan (including access to necessary medications) for while they are abroad. The AIFS student insurance (CISI) includes access to English-speaking professional counsellors and psychotherapists who are used to working with international students.

In order to maintain good mental and physical help students can participate in various activities. It also an ideal way to meet like-minded locals and to integrate into the community. There is no gym or other sports facilities on campus. However, students can find a variety of gyms, yoga studios, public pools and other sport facilities throughout the city of Florence. If you need any mental health support, we can connect you with experienced English-speaking counsellors and psychotherapists. Around mid-semester the local staff and director organize a session for reflecting on the challenges encountered during the experience abroad. AIFS also offers their students an English speaking, global teleconsultation service, connecting students to experienced medical personnel via phone call or video chat, this service is included in the program fees.

Sometimes women may experience unwanted attention and harassment in the form of cat calling and other forms of objectification by local men. It is recommended to ignore these advances. During orientation, AIFS staff will discuss gender roles in Italian society.

Italy is thought to be a very safe country, but it is recommended that students follow "common sense" safety precautions as they would in the United States, are vigilant of their surroundings, and make a conscious effort to travel in groups as often as possible. Your Resident Director will provide you with more details during orientation.

Download Study Abroad Resources!

Download Study Abroad Resources!