Here you can find useful information for parents. The benefits of study abroad, how to prepare your child for a trip abroad, as well as useful information about staying in touch, student housing and visiting Prato.
Studying Abroad Strengthens Students’ Chances for Employment and Graduate School
Students who study abroad gain advantages in job seeking – employers these days look
for international experience.
It enhances their applications to graduate school, medical school or other professional programs with evidence that they have taken on demanding activities abroad.
They build up valuable work experience, such as assisting at a local radio station or teaching English in local Italian schools.
Study Abroad Builds Network for their Future
Students who study abroad can build international networks & friendships by meeting fellow students, professors and professionals from countries and cultures around the globe.
They develop cross-cultural skills and meet locals by participating in a host of fun activities like conversation
exchanges and sports with local students, cooking lessons, hikes, field trips to local firms, museums and guest speakers, movie nights, and photo contests.
Study Abroad Develops Maturity, Personal Abilities and Skills
Studying abroad can really boost personal development & ability to collaborate, communicate and problem-solve in a new environment.
It strengthens critical thinking, self-confidence & independent thought.
Students gain new perspectives and ideas about themselves and their culture while experiencing and growing an appreciation for other cultures too.
Study Abroad allows Students to do Something they normally wouldn’t do
All students in Prato learn a new language! All students at the Tuscany Campus take an Italian language course (no previous Italian required.)
They earn University of New Haven credits in their major, minor, core & electives while exploring the beautiful city of Prato and its surroundings.
They get to explore Tuscany and beyond, by participating in a wide range of excursions and activities exploring Tuscan traditions and Italian culture in Italian cities like Florence, Pisa and Lucca.
One of the most important things that you can do is to encourage your student to prepare and to communicate.
Research the Tuscany Campus, Prato and Italy together– to understand better what lies ahead of them, you should both study this website and do internet research about the city of Prato.
Understand the program – you and your student should read through our policies on safety, housing and academics. A semester at the Tuscany Campus is primarily an academic experience, and student safety and conduct are paramount.
Stay in touch – regular and brief communication, via email or Facebook, especially at the start of the semester, is to be encouraged, but make sure that the student is also communicating any issues or worries they have with onsite staff in Prato. If staff doesn’t know about problems, we cannot help.
There are many ways to stay in touch with students while they are in Prato. Communication is important, especially at the beginning for students who might feel homesick, and there are many ways to do this.
Sending Letters: If you want to send a letter to a student please use the school's address, and we will put it in the student's mailbox at the school. Use this address:
c/o University of New Haven
Piazza San Francesco 8
Prato 59100 I TALY
Sending Packages: Ask the student to set up a receiving address at Mail Boxes Etc. in Viale Montegrappa 136, Prato. Once that is set up, Mail Boxes Etc. will alert the student when a package arrives or in case of problems.
Tips for Sending Packages from the U.S.: One of the bigger problems students face abroad is receiving packages from the United States. When a package is being sent from the United States it has to pass through customs, just as you would when traveling, and items must be declared. The Italian government taxes declared valued items an additional 20% and you will wind up having to pay an enormous fee just to accept the package! When sending packages from the U.S a form has to be filled out describing what is in the box, always write: "Used, personal items for private use" or "Oggetti personali usati." When writing down the content value of the box always declare a low value and write down less than $30 (even $1 is acceptable), otherwise, the recipient will have to pay a tax. We recommend that you do not use UPS. They have private postal fees, charge 20% tax for declared items, and are usually the hardest packages to get sent. THE FOLLOWING ITEMS ARE NOT ALLOWED THROUGH CUSTOMS: Food, toiletries (hair products, toothpaste, perfumes, cosmetics, etc.), Medications (medicines or vitamins), and leather or fur products. An easy way to avoid the hassle with customs is to not send any of these items. Remember, we recommended to students that if they are taking medication for a medical condition such as diabetes or allergies, they should bring all medicine with them. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO MAIL PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS TO ITALY. Getting such packages cleared by customs authorities can be very difficult and might not work.
There is internet access in housing and at the school. But while lightning quick cable internet connections are common in the United States, students may experience slower connection speeds in other countries, Italy included. Wherever they are, it's important to remember that certain conveniences such as high-speed internet access are not always the norm as they would be at home. Learning to adapt to these slight inconveniences is a necessary part of the study abroad experience. We find that the students who have the most successful experience spend more time out of their apartments enjoying everything Italy has to offer, rather than spending the majority of their free time online talking to friends and family back in the US. It is much easier, and better for the students, if you simply keep up with their Facebook updates! In the school and in student housing, the Tuscany Campus provides Internet access for academic purposes. Students need to be aware that making calls on Skype might not always be easy. A high-speed Internet connection is offered in the Tuscany Campus building, Residence Hall San Francesco, and students have access to this connection during the campus' operating hours. In addition, there are several free wi-fi points around town, including the Lazzerini Library, the city's public library, which is also open at weekends and is free for all University of New Haven students.
We welcome all parents and relatives who want to come and stay in Prato, and to visit the school. However, it is not helpful if visitors visit during periods when students should be focused on study or examinations. Please also be aware that a strict attendance policy applies to all courses at the Tuscany Campus, and so please avoid any visits or travel arrangements that will result in any absences from class.
Q. Will students be staying in a dorm?
A. Most students will be housed in the same building as the students attend their classes, Residence Hall San Francesco. Other living arrangements in Prato is provided by various hotel-like institutions in the city. The apartment-style housing is not owned or managed by the university, and they do not resemble campus dorms. Other people not connected with the university will also be staying in the apartments at your housing location (other than San Francesco), so students are expected to follow a strict code of conduct regarding noise and behavior.
Q. Where is housing located?
A. Housing in Residence Hall San Francesco is in the same building as the school. Other off-campus housing arrangements are distributed among several locations in the city, and none of the housing locations are more than 15 minutes’ walk from the school and from each other. Students will be notified of your exact housing assignment shortly before they leave for Prato.
Q. What is housing like in Prato?
It is NOT like on campus in Connecticut! There is a lot of variety. Some rooms are more spacious than others, but none of them is as large as one might expect based on US standards. Also, the size and style of furniture provided differs from room to room, some apartments have 2 bathrooms while some have just one, and each establishment offers different laundry services. This is important to understand before students come to Prato, because they cannot choose your room, and you must be able to accept their housing as they find it.
Q. Is there a laundry service in housing?
A. In every housing location students will find EITHER an included washing service OR a washing machine is provided. Please note that washing machines in housing are not as large as those you find in the US or in a commercial laundromat. There are also several commercial laundromats located throughout the city center.
Q. How are roommates assigned? Can students pick their roommate(s)?
A. Roommates are assigned based on the housing questions that students fill out prior to departure. We take into consideration stated lifestyle habits and roommate requests, if any. While we do our best to satisfy your requests, we cannot guarantee that students will be assigned your requested roommate. Please note that each apartment is same-sex only.
Q. Can students have guests visit me in my assigned housing?
A. Guests are permitted to make brief visits to housing, but not without the consent of all apartment/roommates. Guests are not permitted in rooms after 11pm. No overnight guests are allowed. No exceptions are made to this rule, even for relatives. Breaches of this policy will result in immediate sanctions and potential expulsion from university housing. Tuscany Campus staff can recommend a number of hotels and hostels close to school.
Q. Is there Internet Access in housing?
There is internet access in housing and at the school. But while lightning quick cable internet connections are common in the United States, students may experience slower connection speeds in other countries, Italy included. Wherever they are, it’s important to remember that certain conveniences – such as high-speed Internet access – are not always the norm as they would be at home.
Learning to adapt to these slight inconveniences is a necessary part of the study abroad experience. We find that the students who have the most successful experience spend more time out of their apartments enjoying everything Italy has to offer, rather than spending the majority of their free time online talking to friends and family back in the US. It is much easier, and better for the students, if you simply keep up with their Facebook updates!
In the school and in student housing, the Tuscany Campus provides Internet access for academic purposes. Students need to be aware that making calls on Skype might not always be easy. A high-speed Internet connection is offered in the Tuscany Campus building, San Francesco, and students have access to this connection during the Campus’s opening hours. In addition, there are several free wi-fi points around town, including the Lazzerini Library, the city’s public library, which is also open at weekends and is free for all University of New Haven students.
Will my student need an Italian visa?
A study visa is required for U.S. Students who participate in a study abroad program that is longer than 90 days. Students must secure a student visa prior to their departure to Italy. International students should consult the Italian Consulate website to determine if they are required to obtain a study visa. Citizens of European countries in the Schengen Region do not need visas for any Schengen Country. Student visas will not be issued to students under the age of 18.
What is the process for obtaining a student visa?
The Study Abroad Office will assist the student with the process of obtaining a student visa. Student visas are issued by the Italian government via Italian Consulates located in various cities throughout the world. Please keep in mind that the Italian Consular Service offices are not affiliated with the University of New Haven, they are entities of the Italian national government that issue visas and perform other official functions.
The Study Abroad Office is eligible to participate in a process called 'batch processing'. This allows a representative from the Study Abroad Office to submit all visa application materials to the Consulate on the student’s behalf. The Study Abroad Office will send out detailed instructions on how to complete the visa forms and submit supporting materials. The guidelines provided by the University of New Haven are based on the information we have at the time regarding the visa process. It is important to remember, the Consulate can create and/or change their requirements for obtaining a student visa at any time and without prior notification. The University of New Haven does not have the ability to change visa requirements, though we are happy to help you in whatever way we can, the decision to issue you a visa rests solely with the consulate or embassy.
The Study Abroad Office cannot submit visa applications for minors or non-US Citizens. Non-US citizens must obtain an appointment with the Italian Consulate and submit their visa application individually. The Study Abroad Office will assist, as able, in helping students prepare for their visa appointment.
Q. What is a student is unhappy or has a problem?
A. The first and best thing to do is to encourage the student to communicate with staff in Italy. If it is a problem with their housing they should report it in the first instance to their housing owners. If they are unhappy for any other reason they should come and talk to Tuscany Campus staff. Staff here is always willing to listen and to help, and students will only develop and grow if they are allowed (and encouraged) to take responsibility for any issues that may arise that affect them. Sometimes as parents we can do our children a greater service by encouraging them to take action, rather than just taking it for them!
Q. Is it safe to study in Prato?
A: Student safety is paramount. Although Prato is a very safe town in Italy, it is a large city and like all cities presents a certain risk with regards to petty crime. It is important, therefore, that students are aware of how to protect themselves against petty crime. Being aware is the first step toward preventing incidents of robbery or theft from occurring.
While no one can guarantee safety, the University of New Haven has several health and safety measures in place. Staff constantly monitors current international political, social, and economic conditions and events in Europe, and if necessary takes precautions in light of this information so that participants have the safest possible experience abroad. In addition, faculty and staff at the program site are available to oversee student safety and to support students who need medical assistance while abroad.
If you want to know more about health and safety in general while studying abroad, see the Traveler's Health information available from U.S. Department of State's Travel Safety Information for Students.
Prior to departure, students receive specific health and safety information about Prato. On arrival in Prato students receive, as part of their Orientations Days activities, a dedicated session about personal safety whilst in Italy from a local policeman.
In addition, local staff in Prato also provides a 24 hour, seven days a week emergency response to any incident.
Q. What are the emergency protocols?
A. If the student is in Italy and is involved in an emergency situation, the student should either contact an emergency responder or the on-site staff immediately. If a student is unable to do so, University Police should be contacted. Students will be provided with all of the appropriate contact details when they arrive on site.
Tuscany Campus staff has emergency contact procedures in place 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our staff is able to contact students quickly and can relay information to the home campus promptly when necessary.
Q: What if a student needs medical attention while overseas?
Q: Should I get a passport?
A: We do encourage parents of our students to apply for a passport if you do not already have one (or renew one you already have that will expire within six months of the student’s return date). Should an emergency arise while your student is abroad it may be helpful or necessary for you to travel abroad to be with them. Please visit the State Department for more information.
Q: How do I get ahold of the staff at the Tuscany Campus in an emergency?
A: First contact the staff in the Study Abroad Office: Jennie Shamasna: (203) 932-7343 or Elena Bystrova: (203) 932-7219. If it is after the regular work hours of 8:30am-4:30pm, contact University Police at (203) 932-7070.