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Life in Italy


What is the workload like in the EUPS program?

The European Union Policy Studies program is an accelerated, one-year M.A. program. As such, the workload is significant. In addition to classes, students often attend additional guest lectures, study trips, and group meetings. Coursework is equally intensive across all three semesters.

Will I have access to academic resources for research and study?

Students are provided with full access to the European University Institute’s library and may use books from the EUI library on-site. The EUI also has extensive electronic material available; students may download and use this material when not physically at the EUI. Students also have access to the full collection at the local municiple library.

Finally, while in Florence, students have full access to the JMU library and its Interlibrary Loan services. Students freely access all periodicals to which JMU subscribes, and JMU librarians can deliver articles and chapters accessed via Interlibrary Loan to EUPS students. Question


Do I need to apply for a visa before coming to Italy?

Students who do not hold EU passports must obtain a study visa before the program starts. Once accepted, such students may apply for a visas directly, but they are encouraged to apply through JMU's Office of International Program, whose staff is very experienced in helping students with the visa process.

Am I responsible for booking my own way to and from Florence?

Students are responsible for making all their own travel arrangements and for arriving at the program location at the appropriate time. Cheap fares can be found, but are often bound by restrictions and subject to large fees for date changes and cancellation.  Whenever possible, opt for refundable tickets or tickets with reasonable change fees. Each student is required to provide a copy of his/her flight itinerary with departure and arrival times and flight numbers to JMU's Office of International Programs. If students purchase an airline ticket without the approval of the program director, they understand that JMU will not be held liable for the price of the ticket or any fees associated with changing the ticket, should the program be cancelled for any reason.

Students are strongly encouraged to purchase trip cancellation insurance.  Trip cancellation insurance provides monetary support for non-refundable expenses and service charges imposed by airlines and travel agents, including baggage loss or delay.

Local and Internet Travel Agents

STA Travel: 877.777.8717                 

Lincoln Travel: 540.828.4204

Travel Counsellors: 540.434.1796

Carlson Travel: 540.433.7292

Which airport in Italy should I fly into?

Florence is close to both the Florence-Amerigo Vespucci-Peretola (FLR) airport and the Pisa-Galileo Galilei (PSA) airport. Most students find it is easiest for their first big arrival (when they have many suitcases and belongings) to arrive at the FLR airport and take a taxi from there to their accommodations. Other Italian airports, such as Milan, Rome and Venice, are accessible by train.

When do I need to arrive?

The date that the program begins is the date that students are required to be on-site. In case you miss your incoming flight or the flight is delayed or cancelled, be sure to carry specific directions to Palazzo Capponi, in writing, with the complete address and telephone number.

Will there be time to travel individually during my course of study?

Apart from the academic visits, students wishing to explore Europe on their own will have such opportunities. The fall and spring semesters include a one-week break, and there is a one-week break between the spring semester and the summer semester. Students can also travel during the approximately three-week period between fall and spring terms.

Weekend travel is also possible, although coursework obligations and guest lectures and seminars often require students to remain in Florence. Students should wait until they arrive in Florence to plan weekend trips or visits from friends and family in order to consult the academic schedule.

When is the program over?

A formal graduation ceremony, typically in the final week of June, closes the EUPS academic year. After the ceremony, students are asked to depart from their accommodations. Specific information regarding graduation and departure is distributed well in advance.

Can I travel on my own before or after the program?

Visas for non-EU citizens are granted for a specified time period. Students without EU passports cannot enter the European Union prior to the start date of their visa. Also, visas for American students are occasionally issued soon before the start of the program. Because of this, American students should plan to be in the US before departure in order to ensure that they are able to collect their visa and travel legally to Italy. Students are obligated to leave the Schengen zone once their time of legal residence has expired; if they do not, they risk deportation and future censure.


What sort of Internet access will I have?

Student apartments and Palazzo Capponi are both fully equipped for Internet access. In Palazzo Capponi, students are granted access to the building's network for their personal laptops and devices. Students also have access to Internet-equipped desktop computers with printers in Palazzo Capponi. In addition to Internet connectivity in apartments and Palazzo Capponi, many public squares (piazzas), bars, cafes, and libraries in the city have free Wi-Fi connections.

Can I arrange for my own living accommodations?

Students are required to live in program-provided accommodations for the duration of the program and cannot arrange their own accommodations locally. The cost for housing is included in the total program costs and fees. Those students doing an internship in the summer semester are able to do so outside of Florence, but any living expenses must be paid by the student directly, and students are still responsible for paying housing fees during the term.

Life in Italy

How much spending money should I budget for my time in the program?

Students' average monthly costs vary significantly depending on their lifestyle. Students should budget for everyday expenses such as groceries and transportation. Additional expenses, such as eating out, entertainment, and non-program travel might also be considered. Students should also consider exchange rate fluctuations when preparing their monthly budget.

Can I work while I am in Florence?

The program makes two $10,000 assistantships available to students.  Applicants may apply for one or both of these assistantships.  Beyond the assistantships, students who are not EU citizens are not permitted to work during their studies.

Do I need to speak Italian?

All classes, apart from Italian language instruction, are conducted in English. Florence is a cosmopolitan city that hosts over ten million visitors annually, and English is widely spoken throughout the city. Even so, committing oneself to learning Italian can significantly affect the type of experience that students have. Students who make a strong effort in Italian are able to connect more closely with the country and its culture, to meet local Italian friends, and to have friendly conversations with local shopkeepers.

What should I bring with me to Florence?

Students should always consider luggage restrictions for carry-on and checked luggage. Many items that can be bought at home (shampoos, clothes, shoes, etc.) can also be bought in Italy, but students should pack very specific items that cannot be bought in Italy (e.g., a preferred contact lens solution or sunscreen). A full list of recommended items is sent to accepted students prior to departure. If you have questions about what kinds of products are (not) available in Italy, contact the Program Director.

What kind of electrical devices should I bring?

Most non-Italian hair straighteners and curling irons are incompatible with Italian plugs. Plugging in a non-Italian straightener or curling iron will most likely result in destruction of the device. It is generally more economical for students who wish to use these devices to purchase them directly in Italy.

Do I need an international cell phone plan?

Students without an Italian cell phone plan should bring an unlocked smart phone to Florence. The program will provide an Italian SIM card and sufficient credit for students' early weeks in the program. Students pay a small monthly sum (e.g., €15, subject to change) for a plan that provides a significant amount of data, text, and calling capability.

Is there gym access at the Florence campus?

JMU's premises at Palazzo Capponi do not include a gym. There are many gyms around the city that students can join for a membership fee.

How can I get around the city?

Florence is very manageable by foot, especially because JMU's Florence premises and student apartments are so centrally located. Many students rent or purchase bikes for the duration of their stay. Others utilize the easy-to-navigate public bus system.

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