Italy: UNH-in-Italy Program:Safety and Responsibility
UNH-in-Italy will work to protect your health and safety overseas, but you must take responsibility for the results of your decisions, choices and behavior. Before the program, read carefully and consider the information given to you by your study abroad office regarding your health and any special needs; and together with your family, review your university’s safety and responsibility guidelines. Another resource is the State Department Consular Information Sheets and Travel Warnings at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_1764.html and the Centers for Disease Control web site at www.cdc.gov. While UNH-in-Italy can provide information about health and safety issues, we cannot eliminate all risks from a study abroad environment or ensure that U.S. standards of due process will be applied in legal proceedings outside this country.
By your signature on the UNH-in-Italy Agreement and Release form, you have agreed 1) to respect the laws and customs of the host country, your university’s Code of Student Ethics, and all other reasonable standards of conduct promulgated by UNH-in-Italy, its agents and consortium partners, and 2) to participate fully in the academic program by attending classes and remaining at the host institution for the full academic duration of the program. You have acknowledged that if the Resident Director, with the concurrence of the Program Coordinator of UNH-in-Italy, determines that your conduct is detrimental to the best interests of the program or to the UNH-in-Italy Program and its member institutions, your participation in the program may be terminated.
Avoid illegal drugs. Drugs can impair your judgment in situations that require increased awareness. In Italy, possession brings three years in prison; trafficking, three to eight. Persons arrested on drug charges are not eligible for bail. Neither the UNH-in-Italy Program nor U.S. officials can intervene.
Please be especially alert to the following aspects of living abroad, which may not at first appear to you as safety or health issues:
One of the best ways to protect yourself abroad is to avoid excessive drinking. Although alcohol may be more accessible at your program site than in the U.S., if you drink alcohol at all, do so in moderation. Not only may inebriation be culturally offensive, more importantly, it can impair your judgment in critical moments when you most need to be alert (e.g., finding your way home late at night, socializing with strangers, etc.).
Students abroad sometimes participate in new activities in which they are not well-practiced or proficient. Be cautious if you are attempting any activity that has an element of danger or risk, particularly if you are far from assistance. These activities can include but are not limited to rock climbing, cliff jumping, snorkeling, bungee jumping, skydiving and skiing.
You are likely to experience some form of culture shock during your time abroad, but this should not be confused with a serious emotional crisis. If you feel withdrawn or detached and cannot cope with your environment, ask the program director on site for guidance and/or a recommendation for a skilled health care provider.
If your problem involves an eating disorder, we urge you to disclose this on your medical form so that the staff can assist you with making appropriate contacts with health and therapy providers in Ascoli Piceno. Should such a disorder emerge during the program, share your burden with someone before you become seriously weakened.
Any medication that you take for a mental health condition should be listed on your medical form. You should also continue taking your medication abroad since any interruption in medication can produce serious consequences.
In the event of anti-American activity abroad, maintain a low profile. Avoid places known for attracting Americans (fast-food restaurants, American Express office, etc.), dress to fit with the local culture, and avoid clothing that will quickly identify you as American. Do not approach unattended packages in public places. Be cautious and report any unclaimed object.
Be sure to stay in frequent touch with the staff during periods of political unrest or turmoil. It is critical for you to keep your cell phones on so that the staff can reach you with instructions or information.
If you feel you may be the victim of sexual harassment, consult the program administration immediately. They can help you sort out the difference between unacceptable harassment and culturally acceptable behavior which is nonetheless uncomfortable for you. In the case of sexual harassment, you may need to file a report at the local police station with the assistance of the program administrator on site.
Dating and Sexual Behavior
It is important to understand the norms of the country where you will be studying. You can learn about these through various sources - books, guidebooks to some extent, discussions with program staff, host nationals, and observing the behavior of others. Many students report that their relationships abroad gave them access to a greater understanding of the culture in which they lived. Others report that by not engaging in serious relationships they were able to gain more since they could focus on other activities. Consider all these issues if you plan on being involved in a relationship, sexual or otherwise, while studying abroad.
If you anticipate being sexually active while abroad, consider bringing a supply of the pregnancy and STD prevention protection you currently use.
Always take extra precautions when traveling.
Recent increased security measures at airport facilities and on aircrafts will require that you take additional precautions when flying. You should be prepared to comply with multiple document checks, baggage searches, and
inquiries. Be patient — these steps are being taken for your protection.
Packing: Examine everything that you normally pack in your suitcase and evaluate whether an object could be scrutinized by airport security. (This includes items found in manicure kits, etc.) Consider removing anything that could be perceived as threatening, or may raise suspicion at a security screening checkpoint. No knives of any size will be accepted. Avoid over-packing so that carry-on luggage and checked suitcases can be opened and closed with ease.
Airport etiquette: Arrive at the airport early (at least two to three hours before scheduled departure). Be sure to have your ticket, paperwork and passport available. Be prepared to demonstrate the operation of electronic equipment such as laptops, cell phones, etc.
In transit: Maintain your sense of awareness and keep your possessions with you at all times.
Upon arrival: Have your luggage receipts available for verification when retrieving luggage.
Everyday traffic accidents are the main cause of injury to students traveling abroad. The road-safety standards and risks for Western Europe are similar to those in the U.S. You may find drivers in Italy to be more aggressive than in the U.S., and speeding and passing may be more common.
• Keep track of local holidays that increase traffic and exercise the same caution you would on a holiday weekend in the U.S.
• Don’t rent or ride in a car without a seat belt.
• Demand that taxi and bus drivers drive safely. “Slow down,” “Stop,” and “Let me out,” are three of the most powerful phrases you can learn.
• Do not hitchhike. You risk accidents, theft, and personal assault.
The Association for Safe International Road Travel (www.asirt.org) offers statistics, tips and articles about road safety around the world.
• Avoid crowded areas where you are most likely to be robbed:
crowded subways, train stations, market places, festivals. Do not use narrow alleys or poorly-lit streets.
• Avoid travel alone at night.
• Beware of pickpockets. They often have an accomplice who will jostle you, ask for directions or the time, point to something spilled on your clothing, or distract you by causing a disturbance. Vagrant children may create a distraction while picking your pocket.
• Try to seem purposeful while you move about. Even if you are lost, act as though you know what you are doing
The possibility of theft on trains along popular tourist routes is a serious concern. It is more common at night and especially on overnight trains.
• Lock your compartment or take turns sleeping in shifts with your traveling companions. If that is not possible, stay awake.
• If you travel overnight in an unlockable compartment, keep credit cards and passports in a safe place, such as a money belt or pouch around your neck.
Ascoli Piceno is a very safe city. Nevertheless, it is important to be attentive to matters of personal security, especially when traveling outside Ascoli. Be aware of your belongings and the people around you. Minimize the amount of cash on you at all times and avoid carrying a credit card not requiring a PIN. Pay particular attention around the train stations, bus stops, and tourist areas of big cities. Try not to look too much like a tourist. Basically, use common sense. Remember:
• Never hitchhike under any circumstances.
• Avoid going out alone in the evening.
• Travel in small groups. Be especially aware of your belongings on overnight trains.
• Limit jogging to morning and afternoon hours.
• AIDS awareness: be prudent as you would be in the United States.
UNH-in-Italy Program Rules
No use or possession of any sort of illegal drugs in any quantity. This rule is in compliance with Italian laws: foreigners found by Police to have illegal drugs, may be jailed or deported. Students found to be in violation of this policy may be expelled from the program without any financial refund.
No disorderly conduct, including that resulting from excessive alcohol consumption.
No noise is allowed after 23.00 during the summer time and after 22:00 during the winter time. This rule is in compliance with Italian laws.
• You are living in private homes (not dorms!), please respect them.
• Nothing may be taped or tacked to the apartment walls.
• You are responsible for any damage caused to the apartment during your occupancy.
• At the end of the term, the apartment will be inspected for damages by the property owner and the Director. All occupants are responsible for all damages. Payment for damages is due immediately. Grades will be withheld until payment is received.
Informing Program about Travel Plans
Students are required to inform the on-site director, Cristian Muscelli, and the administrative assistant, Diana Piotti, in writing of their travel itineraries with appropriate contact information whenever they leave the city.
If it is determined that the student has failed to conform to a reasonable standard of conduct, the student will receive notice from the UNH-in-Italy Program Administration of termination of his/her participation in the program.
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