Studying abroad is a life-changing experience. Students have the opportunity to see the world and immerse themselves in new cultures while earning college credit. Over the course of a summer, semester or year abroad, students grow in ways that often would not take place within the comfort zone of their home campus. Undoubtedly, there will be moments of homesickness, frustration with not knowing the language and confusion when trying to live and navigate in a foreign land. These are also the moments when students mature the most. SHC Italy Center stresses treating students as adults. We offer a wealth of travel, safety and cultural awareness information combined with constant access to faculty and staff to assist them with the transition to life abroad. Spring Hill also emphasizes building community—studying, traveling, dining and problem solving together. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us at italy@shc.edu.

Frequently Asked Questions by Parents

Q: How does my son or daughter apply to SHC?

A:  Spring Hill (Mobile) students complete the online application (click “Apply Now” on the home page). Visiting Students (Non Spring Hill College applicants) must first complete the online application in addition to having their Study Abroad Advisor send a one-paragraph e-mail to italy@shc.edu, clearly indicating that home institutions approve of their intent to study at the SHC Italy Center. The Italy Center will directly inform students of their acceptance (or rejection) after having received the online application and an email from the home campus.

Q: How should my son or daughter prepare to apply for his/her visa?

A: Italian Law requires that Fall and Spring Semester Students (summer students are excluded) are to secure a study visa prior to entering Italy and this process may take as long as three months to complete.  Students who delay application to the SHC Italy Center beyond the suggested deadlines will not be early enough to participate in the group submission for visa and will consequently need to apply independently at the Italian consulate.  Applying independently can be time consuming. 

The semester before your son or daughter’s attendance, the Italy Center staff will begin the visa application process with them. As a parent, you will inevitably be involved in this process and so we ask that you request your student to forward all materials about the visa process. It is not a very time consuming process but it does require attention to detail.  Please note that this process is not optional as your child will not be allowed in Italy without properly securing an Italian visa first. 

Q: What is the best way to contact my daughter or son while he/she is abroad?

A: Many students bring their American smart phones and use an international plan, which will be a case by case cost. If students have a smart phone, such as an iPhone, they can use free applications such as Viber, Tango, Whatsapp- that allow for free calling, text messaging with the phone on airplane mode. Students will have 24/7 access via the Emergency Assistance Line to the Program Director. Students when travelling outside of Bologna for the weekend are required to register prior to leaving, in order that the staff can easily reach a student at any time during his/her stay in Europe. Many students also use Skype to communicate with friends and family at home. Skype offers the options to call phones for 2 cents a minutes. Calling from the United States, the Emergency Contact Number is 011-39-340-494-6452. Calling from within Italy, the Emergency Contact Number is 340-494-6452. 

Q: How safe is it?

A: During the mandatory Orientation session, the SHC Italy staff will explain to the students the emergency procedures and how medical needs are covers. The students will also have the opportunity to hear the dos and don’ts of living in Italy from Italians. Bologna is a safe city by European standards, but, like all cities, requires that students use common sense. Prior to venturing to destinations outside of Bologna and Italy, the Spring Hill staff monitors the U.S. State Department travel and safety site. For student trips to North Africa and Eastern Europe, all students are registered at the U.S. Embassy prior to our arrival in the country. All College-sponsored trips are led by a SHC Italy Center faculty or staff member. Safety is always a prerequisite when planning and leading a trip outside of Italy. Due to the changing nature of world politics, situations can change in countries from month to month. No trips will occur in areas that the U.S. State Department has declared as at risk. In addition to the Italy trip leader, while on site, each trip is co-led by a certified, nationally recognized tour guide. Tour companies provide the extra safety coverage on location and offer key travel awareness for our students. All parents are encouraged to contact the SHC Italy Center director in the event they have questions or concerns about travel to destinations beyond Italy. At this time, none of the travel destinations (Eastern Europe, North Africa) where SHC Italy Center students are likely to travel require vaccinations or special visas to enter the country. However, students will be required to attain a student visa in order to enter Italy (see “Admissions” section and “Quick Guide” section of the Web site). Students do not need vaccinations to enter Italy, Eastern Europe or North Africa.

Q: Where will my son or daughter stay?

A: The Italy Center is housed within the Camplus Alma Mater residence hall. SHC Italy Center students will either share a room with a fellow American who is also attending the Italy Center or can select to pay a higher monthly rate and have the privacy of your own room.  The hallway neighbors will be Italian college students, and a few Europeans from all parts of the continent. All rooms are equipped with an internet connection, heating, air-conditioning, weekly cleaning services, and private bathrooms. The Camplus Alma Mater facility includes a conference hall, study rooms, a library with newspapers and periodicals, garden, private gym, TV room, music room, and an outdoor basketball court. In Camplus students will be encouraged to participate in recreational activities and communal life initiatives, like dinners, parties and sports tournaments with Italian students. The Camplus Alma Mater residence hall is staffed by an Italian team of student life professionals. The Camplus provides a 24/7 receptionist.  The grounds are secured with video surveillance to reassure your security at any time of the day or night while allowing you maximum freedom and autonomy.  The Alma Mater building is located in an area of town in which large numbers of students from the University reside.  The University of Bologna hosts 100,000 college students per year and quality housing is at a premium. The Camplus Alma Mater neighbourhood is safe, but as in any urban setting students are to exhibit common sense and take precautions that one would in any part of the world. Click here for the Camplus Alma Mater website: http://www.camplus.it/gallery/alma-mater-bologna.

Q: What if my child has a medical issue or dietary restrictions:

A:Medical doctors in Bologna are highly qualified and many have completed post-doctoral research in the United States. The Italian medical community is of the highest standard. The socialized health care delivery system may require a longer wait than private hospitals, but the cost (90% of procedures are free) is well worth the extra time spent in a waiting room.  In the event of an emergency, students will have access to the University of Bologna’s Sant’Orsola Hospital or will be cared for by a medical professional in the comfort of their home apartment. SHC staff is available to provide translation in the hospital when an English-speaking doctor or nurse is not available.  As a rule of thumb, prescription medication purchased in Italy costs substantially less than in the United States. Approximately 20 percent of all American students who are studying overseas use some form of prescription drugs. SHC Italy Center Students are referred to Stephen Williams, an American doctor who has worked in Italy for many years and works closely in helping students with their medical needs. He can also prescribe medication in the event a student needs his/her prescription refilled. Ritalin is the only drug that may NOT be purchased in Italy. However, it is strongly recommended that you arrive in Bologna with enough medication to get you through the entire semester. The best policy is to ask for permission from your home physician to prescribe full semester’s worth of medication.  In addition, it is important that SHC is aware of any medical conditions or dietary restrictions so that we can accommodate all the students’ needs.

Q: What measures does Spring Hill College take to educate my son or daughter about Health, Safety and Security Concerns in Italy?

A: Spring Hill College Italy recognizes the importance of establishing policies and procedures for the protection and well-being of our students.  This is not a study aboard program where students are sent overseas and rarely monitored by staff.  In fact, students who exhibit behaviour that places themselves or others in the Spring Hill community at risk will be dismissed from the program placed on a plane back to the United States and will forfeit all tuition and fees. Student conduct is closely monitored.

Q: Can loans and scholarships from the home institution be applied to SHC Italy Center tuition?

A: Prior to being accepted by SHC Italy Center, all applicants should have been informed by their home campus how scholarships and loans work with our program. Please consult the home institution study abroad and financial office for more details. If questions remain, please contact us and we will respond as soon as we can.

Q: How much should my son or daughter budget for outside spending?

A: When students are abroad they tend to spend more than they would normally at their home campuses.  Although every student spends differently, but we have estimated out of pocket personal expenses per semester (NOT to be paid to Spring Hill):

Visa in Italy expenses                         $225.00

Meals (outside of campus meal plan)         $500.00

Personal Expenses                              $1000.00

(Souvenirs, weekend trips (organized independently), local transportation (taxis, buses, subways), recreation (theater, movies, concerts, etc.), personal items (laundry detergent, shampoo, toothpaste, etc.), postage)

If the student needs to take out more money, he/she can access banks. Banks are open Monday–Friday from 8:20 a.m. to 1:20 p.m. and from 2:45 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. You can also retrieve money from your home bank account by using one of the many Bancomat (ATMs), scattered throughout the city. Many of the larger American networks (PLUS, CIRRUS) are available but not all are located at the same machine. Look around for the network signs on each ATM, or ask your bank if your ATM network can be found in Bologna. Most banks charge a service fee for each ATM transaction.

Q: Can we visit our son or daughter while they are studying abroad?

A: Of course! With two airports and a train station that serves as a hub for destinations across Europe, Bologna is easily accessible and a central location for traveling throughout Italy. If you intend to visit number your son or daughter, please let them know at least two weeks ahead of time.  For lodging, we suggest the 3 star Hotel Donatello Bologna, located at 65 Via dell’Indipendenza or the 4 star Aemilia Hotel, located at 16 Via G. Zaccherini Alvisi.

Q: My son or daughter has never travelled far from home and does not have a passport, Italy seems far away?

A:The beauty of a summer, semester, or year abroad is that young people grow and mature in ways that often will not take place in the safety of their home campus.  It is anticipated that there will be moments, sometimes days of homesickness, frustrations with not knowing the language and confusion when trying to live and navigate in a foreign land. These are often normal aspects of adapting to a foreign culture. These are also the moments when young people mature the most. The SHC Italy Center stresses treating students as adults, supporting students with a wealth of travel, safety and cultural awareness information combined with constant access to faculty and staff—all of which are resources that will help a student excel when abroad.  This is not the type of study abroad program that places a student in a foreign land and offers little or no follow up. The Spring Hill program places a great deal of emphasis on building community, studying together, travelling together, dining together and problem solving together. Your son or daughter will be surrounded by a healthy safety net.

Securing a Passport and a Study Visa can be easily handled but will require some patience in completing the necessary paperwork. The key to avoiding stress is to plan far in advance and be sure to follow the items listed in the “check list” section of this website.

Q: Does my son or daughter need to speak Italian to do this program?

A: Italian language classes are not a prerequisite in order to attend the Italy Center. Students who have never taken Italian are required to take Elementary Italian. Out of classroom expectations include weekly cultural events on-site and required meetings with a University of Bologna speaking partner. It is assumed that students will speak primarily in English with their Italian neighbors while living in the Spring Hill-Alma Mater residence hall. The course offers an introduction to Italian grammar, suitable reading exercises, and elementary composition. Students who are arriving at the Italy Center having already completed Italian 101 and 102 at their home universities can complete their intermediate and advanced Italian courses at the Cultura Italiana Institute (www.culturaitaliana.eu). The Center provides advanced levels of Italian language for college students arriving from across the world. The intensive classes are organized by the SHC Italy Center staff in collaboration with the Cultura Italiana instructors. Students will be placed in the appropriate advanced class level after having completed a placement exam at the institute.

Q: Why should my son or daughter choose to study abroad in Bologna?

A: Today Bologna is noticeably a student town, lively and entertaining, and is viewed as one of the most forward-thinking cities in Europe. In fact, one in four people walking the streets of Bologna are college students. Fewer than 500 of these students are Americans, which makes Bologna a true cultural immersion for students wanting a genuine Italian encounter. Compared to Florence, where more than 7,000 Americans live and study each year, and in contrast to the 7,000 Americans to be found in Rome, Bologna remains one of Italy’s best-kept secrets.

Q: I have more questions. How can I reach you?

A: Please send an email to italy@shc.edu, and your question will be answered within 48 hours.