This page contains the answers to questions that have been asked of the instructors and other common questions.

UW Study Abroad student section
Start here. These guys have seen and heard most questions and they tend to steer your correctly.

UW Study Abroad Handbook
- stmuench stmuench Aug 6, 2013
This is a short-and-sweet handbook for studying abroad. It is for the entire study abroad program (and not customized for us) so any advice you get from me or the Rome Center is more relevant to you. That said, they do have a handy "before you leave" checklist of things to do (e.g., photocopy your passport, tell your bank you will be Rome, etc.) and more information on health coverage and other things. Worth the read. Totally.

The PENULTIMATE pre-departure document from the Rome Center
- stmuench stmuench Aug 2, 2013
All the latest on what to do, when to go, etc. A must read. This is a bit old (2013) but remains relevant. Most of the vital information is now on the UW Rome Center website. But there are bits of good information here. Worth reading.

Passport Requirements
See the requirements on the UW Rome Center website Passports & Visas page.

Getting to the Rome Center (from the airport)
- stmuench stmuench Aug 2, 2013
The UW Rome Center has some great advice. Please read this as your introduction to Rome will involve getting from the airport to the UWRC. The Taxi option probably sounds scarier than it really is. Sure, some taxi drivers are scammers. But, most are just fine. Just follow their advice: exact change, get bags before paying, do not pay more than 48 Euros (for Rome taxi) or 60 Euros (Fiumicino taxi). If you see a Rome taxi it usually has some sort of sticker on the window that states the required flat rate from Fiumincino Airport to Roma. It's good to verify with them the 48 Euro rate before getting in.

Buon viaggio e ci vediamo a Roma (have a good trip and see you in Rome)!

What to expect with Rome housing
- stmuench stmuench Jul 30, 2013
It's not the same as living in the U.S. Please read this UW Rome Center web page on housing. This will correctly set your expectations. I can say that living in Rome is fine. There are fewer creature comforts (at least to the degree we typically have them in the U.S.) but perhaps we are spoiled here.

Going to other countries before/after Rome
Going elsewhere from Rome is a great thing to do. You are already there and travel within Europe/Italy is relatively cheap by air or train. Just a few things to know:
  • In general, students from countries with short-term visa exemptions may enter Italy for academic purposes, for periods of up to 90 days, without a study visa. Citizens of the U.S., Canada, and EU countries fall into this category. Program participants from other countries should consult the Italian Consulate website to check if they need a visa in order to study in Italy. Students who stay in the Schengen area beyond 90 days will be in violation of the 90-day visa waiver and risk being fined and/or detained and even banned from travel in the Schengen area for significant periods of time.
  • Your total stay (whole period of study in Italy + any trip or stay in Italy or in any other Schengen country, even for tourism) within the entire Schengen area does not exceed 90 days AND you are a national of a country participating in the visa waiver agreement.
  • As always, if you intend to visit non-Schengen countries before, during, or after their period of study in Italy you have the full and exclusive responsibility to make sure you have the necessary travel documents (such as a visa) and whether there might be any entry/stay/exit limitations on their presence in said countries.

Getting your Passport Stamped
From the Rome Center: One more important note about traveling to Italy.

Make sure to get your passport stamped upon entry in the Schengen area. The stamp in your passport indicates your date of entry in the Schengen area and is thus necessary in order to demonstrate that you have not overstayed the 90 days allowed under the visa waiver agreement.

If you enter Italy directly from the US or other non-Schengen country, the Italian border police must stamp your passport. If they do not, politely insist that they do so ("per favore, mi timbra il passaporto").

If your point of entry in the Schengen area is a country other than Italy, your passport will be stamped at that border. For instance, if you fly through Amsterdam, the border officials in Amsterdam must stamp your passport - again, if they do not, politely insist that they do so.

If you arrive in Italy from another Schengen country (for instance, via Amsterdam), your passport will NOT be stamped again in Italy.

Checking in to the Rome Center (text from Sheryl Brandalik, former Rome Center director)
Students should plan to come to the Rome Center between 9 am and 4:30 pm on Thursday, August 24 to check in and move into their apartments. If any arrivals are expected for after 5 pm when the office closes, those students should know what the plan is; usually we give the program director those student apartment keys and students contact him/her upon arrival, or you could have them contact the TA. Usually, the program director's apartment is across the hall from the UWRC offices.

Checking out of the Rome Center (text from Sheryl Brandalik, former Rome Center director).
Students need to vacate their apartments by 10 am on Monday the 18th and check out of the Rome Center by 1 pm or so (there's some flexibility there). They are welcome to leave luggage in a classroom at the Center throughout the day - until 5 pm max - if they are departing Rome later in the afternoon (the UWRC takes no responsibility for security of left items however).

Generally check out works like this: On the morning of the day before departure student apartments are inspected and if no damages are found students can check out of the Rome Center (turn in keys, get housing deposits back, etc.) that same afternoon between 3-5 pm or the following morning (Friday, the 18th for your program) between 9 am and 1 pm. Again, apartments need to be vacated though by 10 on the morning of departure.

How do I get a mobile phone for Rome?
The Rome Center requires you to have one of these. There are several ways to go about getting one and there is a lot of conflicting information about what works and what does not. I will attempt to explain.

  • Use your existing mobile phone via an international roaming plan. Your phone must be a GSM phone. GSM is a standard originating in Europe that is now the de facto global standard. Your phone should support the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz carrier frequencies (most do). If you are not sure, your carrier can tell you if your phone will work in Rome. Often they have a web page that helps you do this. I have a Windows phone (Nokia) from AT&T that works fine in Rome with such a roaming plan. Most major carriers have options you can purchase on a monthly basis for international roaming so that you can cut down on your expenses. What international plan you purchase depends upon your needs but the standard one (in most cases) works fine. If you're a bit anal about it, I recommend this: (1) figure out how much you will call using the phone - this is bound to be different than your normal use patterns here in the U.S. (I call VERY little in Rome), then (2) take a look at a previous bill or two and figure out your data usage rate - I found mine went up because I was using Google Translate and Map apps all the time - mapping can be a data-intensive function. The bottom line is that purchasing pre-paid packages (they all have monthly fees) can save you money. Also, when you purchase them make sure that you specify a begin AND END month or specific time frame (e.g. you want them active for August and September only). Otherwise, the phone company may just leave those packages active into October and beyond (which you don't want).
  • Use your existing UNLOCKED mobile phone with a new SIM card. You can replace the SIM card in your phone with another. I have an older WIndows phot that is an unlocked BLU phone that has spots for 2 SIM cards. The SIM card essentially stores YOUR identity. Replacing it creates a new identity and essentially a new phone. Phones that you get from major carriers are almost assuredly locked. Rule-of-thumb: if you don't know if your phone is locked or is. If you do bring an unlocked phone (sometimes called a "world phone"), you can purchase an Italian SIM card (usually at the airport or a local mobile phone store - there are MANY) for around 25 Euros. For my phone, I plan on purchasing an Italian SIM card and installing it in my unlocked phone. I will also keep my U.S. iPhone.
  • Buy/rent a cheap Italian mobile phone. You can buy a pre-paid Italian mobile phone (you will have to determine what you want to pre-pay for...e.g., texts, talk minutes, etc.) and use that. Costs about 50 Euros. You can buy such things at the airport - look for a mobile phone shop (e.g., Vodafone, Wind, TIM). Of course, during check in you can ask the Rome Center where you can buy one locally with the right configuration. The pre-paid Italian phones are convenient for calling locally (e.g., between students). In my experience, however, most of the contacting is done via text and the Facebook group using existing U.S. phones that everyone has.

Which medical care facilities should I go to if I need to go to one?
OnCall International is the student healthcare insurance that you have while studying abroad with UW. UW Study Abroad has provided us a list of clinic/hospitals, doctors and mental healthcare providers in Rome that are covered by OnCall International.

If I'm getting financial aid, can I use some of it to buy an airplane ticket now?
Yes. Your financial aid will show up in the fall quarter. When the cost of the program is due. However, you may borrow against this financial aid NOW to get some coin to pay for an airplane ticket and other expenses. The catch is that in order to do this neat trick, you must be enrolled at UW at the time you do this borrowing. So, if you will not be an enrolled student in the summer, you must do this borrowing during Spring Quarter 2017. If you are going to receive financial aid or are already, please get in contact with UW Study Abroad now and make sure you understand how this process works. It's a bit complicated to me...but they've done it many times before successfully.

How do I pay for Engineering Rome?
There are 3 things you get charged for. First, there's a non-refundable $350 deposit (I think it's still $350) that you owe when you sign your contract (Spring 2017). Then, there's the UW Study Abroad fee and the actual cost of the program that are billed to you in October. Those two items will show up in your student account just as tuition for the fall quarter would. The process for paying for those things is identical for how you would pay for tuition.

How do I register for the Engineering Rome class (CEE 409 or CEE 509)?
It's easy since UW Study Abroad does it for you. They register you for a placeholder course called FSTDY 300 for the FALL QUARTER 2017. That's right, this course counts as a fall quarter course. More information here. Magically, once you have completed the course and fall quarter starts, the FSTDY 300 course is converted to CEE 409 (CEE 509 if you are a graduate student).

What technology resources (including computers) does the UW Rome Center have available?
See the UWRC website for details.

Can I get mail at the UW Rome Center?
Really? Why not just etch something on a stone tablet. Seriously, though. You can, but don't count on it.

Anything special I should bring or not forget?
Certainly. I will spare you the full packing list (e.g., toothbrush, pants, shirt, etc.) and give you some highlights needed for the class:
  • Open mind. No kidding. Be open to new things and don't be afraid to try speaking Italian.
  • Comfortable walking shoes. We do a lot of walking.
  • Something to safely carry your money in. Pickpockets on buses and all.
  • At least one or two nice outfits. People in Rome dress well. Bring an outfit that makes you look like a Roman.
  • Light rain jacket. It might rain while we're there.
  • Camera. Essential for you enjoyment and for the final project. You need a camera. Consider buying one if you don't have a camera of if your phone camera sucks.
  • Phone. Plan on bringing your mobile phone. Don't forget the charger. In fact, bring 2 chargers.
  • Computer. If you have a laptop/iPad/Surface/Galaxy/etc. bring it. Much easier to work on your own computer than those at the Rome Center. You will have much more flexibility. These days a good mobile computer can be had for less than $500. Plus, the Rome Center has WIFI and your apartment is likely to also. Don't forget the power chord. BRING A BACKUP POWER CHORD - those pesky transformers have been known to fry at the worst times.
  • Sunscreen. It will be hot there - at least hotter than Seattle. We have all become delicate Seattle flowers during our time here (this summer notwithstanding) and need to protect ourselves from the sun.
  • Small backpack or something to carry around a few essentials. Things like sunscreen, a snack, camera, tour book.
  • Tour book. I highly recommend a handy Rome guide. My pick is the Rick Steves Rome 2017 book.
  • Outlet converter. Italian outlets are different than U.S. outlets. You need a converter. Cheap ones make it so that you can plug in U.S. things into European outlets. More expensive ones actually have a transformer that steps down the voltage from 240V to 120V. While many electronic devices use transformers that are SUPPOSED to work with voltages up to 240V, they may not. I have lost more than one transformer on my Surface over the years.
  • Heavy hiking or construction footware and appropriate clothing. We may be touring the Metro Linea C tunnel as well as a drydock in Venice. We will also be walking through a 2,000 year old aqueduct tunnel (you will have the option to get VERY dirty on this tour). These are active construction sites, dirty, and with things like nails, jagged rocks, etc. around. You must have appropriate shoes and clothes to tour these sites. Specifically, bring a pair of hiking or construction shoes. No running shoes, open-toed shoes or anything fashion-like. I am bringing my pair of Keen hiking boots. Also a pair of long pants are a must. I am bringing some light hiking pants.

Can/should I go to other parts of Europe/Italy before/after the course?
Why not. You're already there. There are some things to keep in mind:
  • If you're traveling on a visa, make sure your visa can accommodate such trips.
  • UW fall quarter officially starts on September 27th, so if you'll be here in fall quarter then you can't stay too long afterwards.
  • It's reasonably practical to travel in Europe by train. An Eurail pass may help.

This page has been edited 36 times. The last modification was made by - stmuench stmuench on Mar 31, 2017 12:24 pm
Page created by - stmuench stmuench on May 16, 2013 11:40 am