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Discovery Florence

Orientation FAQ

Advising
Students will be advised during the summer before departure by both the Syracuse-based SU Abroad staff and by Associate Dean Susan Wadley, who will also serve as their advisor for the rest of the year (helping to choose spring courses during registration in November as well as advising throughout the spring semester). We anticipate that Professor Wadley will be in Florence during the week of Sept. 8th to talk with students there and help with their initial adjustment to being abroad and to college expectations

First Year Forum
All Discovery Florence students will participate in the Florence equivalent of the First Year Forum offered by the College of Arts and Sciences on main campus. The goal of the forum is to orient the student to college life, to SU, and to studying abroad. Students will discuss issues of host families, cultural adjustment, time management, study habits, expectations of college level courses, choosing a major, and more. This course will be taught by staff in Florence with input from the Associate Dean for Curriculum and Instruction of the College of Arts and Sciences

Information About SUF

Location

The picturesque SUF Campus is situated on and around Piazza Savonarola, just a ten-minute walk from the historic city center.  Known as the Villa Rossa, it is surrounded by a lovely residential neighborhood, and well serviced by a variety of local shops and businesses.

Campus

The SUF CAmpus is comprised of five buildings all within a five-minute walking distance.  The newly renovated garden connects the Villa Rossa, the main administrative building, and the Villino, home of the SUF library.

History

Celebrating nearly fifity years of existence, SUF is one of the oldest study-abroad programs in Italy.  In 1959, the first thirty Syracuse University students came by ship to study in Florence.  The first program was housed in the family estate of Conte Mario Gigliucci, today's Villa Rossa, and SUF has been there ever since.

Director & Staff

Barbara Deimling, Ph. D.is the director of SUF.  SUF employs 26 administrative staff and 60 faculty.


Living with an Italian Host Family
Discovery Florence students will live with an Italian host family, an experience that offers superior linguistic and cultural benefits. The combination of formal Italian lessons and home-based language practice with native speakers has proven to be a tremendously effective means of learning a language. Moreover, being part of a family means participating directly in Italian daily life—the best way to gain insights into and integrate fully with a culture. Students themselves repeatedly describe the host family experience as the best part of the abroad experience. As one student put it: "Ten years from now I may not recall the significance of the Brancacci chapel, but I'll never forget how my Italian mother threw the pasta in the pot each night!"

Check out our Living With Your Host Family Guidelines

Academic Resources
The campus offers comprehensive technological support, including a computer lab with 40 PCs in the Villa Rossa and 6 PCs in the architecture studios. All computers have access to the Internet, Windows XP, Office XP and AutoCAD XP. Wireless is available in the Villa Rossa, the garden, the Villino and in the M.Arch.II Studio. 
The SUF library contains 12,000 items including books, DVDs, videos and periodicals. Students can access the catalogue on-line.
A digital image archive with 8,000 catalogued images and a slide library with nearly 5,000 slides are available in the media lab.

Students
During the fall/spring semesters, the student body is on average comprised of 320 undergraduates and 15 graduates.
30% of the student body comes from Syracuse University.

Student Life
  • Extracurricular activities are offered to provide a better understanding of the Italian culture, and include: cooking classes, wine tasting, hiking, sports, Italian-English conversation exchange etc.

  • Volunteer program: Students can break cultural barriers by adhering to the story-telling volunteer program, where students introduce English books to Italian school children.

  • A full-time staff member provides acculturation counseling and medical referrals.

  • A medical doctor is available on campus twice a week

Lectures, Special Events & Publications
Each semester, SUF organizes a series of lectures that promote a better understanding of Italian history, society and culture.
Special events not only help students immerse themselves into the Italian culture and society but are also a way of giving back to the community.
Publications include:

La Gazzetta, a collection of student writings in Italian.
Villa Rossa Voice, a newsletter for students, faculty and staff.

Full Immersion Weekend
The "Full Immersion Weekend", the first weekend of the semester, is different from all the others. While students are normally free on weekends to participate in field study excursions or to travel on their own, the full immersion weekend was established to spend time with the host family and to become oriented to the city of Florence and the immediate neighborhood. From past experience, this weekend has proven to be invaluable for students and host families to get to know each other better before classes begin. Students learn to orient themselves within the host family and the city of Florence. We hope that this weekend is the start of a relationship that will last a lifetime.

Getting Around Florence

Part of the SU Abroad Housing fee covers local transportation costs in Florence. This amount, which you receive as a one-time disbursement during orientation, is Euro 136,00 (Euro 34,00 x 4 months), equivalent to the price of 4 regular monthly bus passes. Think carefully about your personal living situation (proximity to the school and to the center), academic obligations (multiple site visits, etc.) and social habits as you decide what best suits your needs. It's up to you to decide how to allocate your funds for transportation, but if you plan wisely and use a combination of the options explained below, this amount should cover the majority – if not all – of your transportation costs. 

On Foot

The best way to see Florence is on foot! The narrow twisting medieval streets and Roman grid plan of the historical city center make it ideal for exploring the city on foot. Street names sometimes change from corner to corner, even though it might not be apparent (Borgo San Lorenzo becomes Via Ginori which becomes Via San Gallo) so it is always a good idea to carry a map, preferably one with a street index. Free city maps are available in the SUF Student Life Office or at the tourist information office (APT) on Via Cavour, but you might want to invest in a sturdier map (Streetwise maps are plastic coated and include a street index) from a local bookshop or newspaper stand. Street names are located on marble or granite plaques on the sides of buildings at street corners. There are two street numbering systems – black for private residences, red for businesses. Comfortable walking shoes are a must on the uneven cobble-stoned streets and narrow sidewalks that are characteristic of most Italian cities. A word of caution: be sure to watch out for traffic, as it is not uncommon to find bikers, motor scooters and even the occasional car going the wrong way down a one-way street. Try to cross streets at designated crosswalks (white striped areas) but don't assume that vehicles will automatically stop for you!

By Bus

Should you want to explore further a field into the surrounding suburban areas and other local townships (the Cascine park, Bagno a Ripoli, the Oltrarno area, etc.) you can do so on Florence's extensive bus system. The orange ATAF city buses, run either in a loop (like the #12 and #13 that lead up to Piazzale Michelangelo and back) or from one end of the line, capolinea, to the other (like the #7 which runs between the Santa Maria Novella train station and Fiesole). Buses can be boarded only at the designated stops, fermate. Look for the orange ATAF sign; the number of the route is indicated below. A black arrow with dots indicates future stops on the route and the direction the bus is traveling. You can download route timetables and other information (in English) from www.ataf.net; bus maps are available in the SUF Student Life Office. Before boarding, you must purchase an ATAF ticket at any authorized vendor such as a Tabacchi shop/coffee bar, newspaper stand or the ATAF office at the central train station. Tickets must be validated upon boarding the bus and remain valid for 70 minutes – no matter how many transfers you make. If you are unable to get a ticket before boarding, you can purchase one from the bus driver for an additional charge.

Cell Phones

Cell phones have become popular among students, providing an easy means to communicate with fellow students and with friends and family back home. It is important to remember that all phone calls (especially cellular phone calls) are expensive!

There are fundamental differences between American and Italian cellular phone plans. The American concept of a monthly cell phone plan with "minutes" (free nights/weekends vs. daytime minutes) is not valid in Italy. Instead, you can either rent a cell phone which will cost a monthly rental fee + traffic incurred, or you can purchase a cell phone which will cost an upfront purchase price + traffic incurred. Either way, you must pay for all calls made from your cell phone to another phone number. You will not be charged for any incoming calls to your Italian cell phone.

There are three primary cellular communications service providers: TIM, Vodafone and Wind. The differences between the carriers are minimal and will probably not affect your choice of cellular plan.

Things to consider when renting a cell phone:

Often you have to leave an imprint of your credit card with the store.
Phone charges are automatically charged to your credit card—but necessarily in a timely or predictable manner.
Note whether there is a monthly rental fee. If not, be sure you are not getting charged more per minute.
Ask if you can access your billing account online or through email, and how often.
Ask how much the fee is for a lost or stolen phone—often these charges are very high!
How do you return the phone? Mail or in person?
Take note of the store's hours should you need assistance in the future.


Past students have rented cell phones from:

Cells4Rent—Corso Tintori,29r,
www.cells4rent.com PicCell—Via D. Alighieri, 22r
(c/o American Express)
www.piccell.com

Things to consider when buying a cell phone:

You have to physically recharge the phone yourself—either by buying a recharge card or taking your phone number and means of payment to a Tabacchi (some, not all, offer this second option).
The only way to see an itemized list of your phone charges is by signing up for this service on the service provider's website (TIM, Vodafone, Wind, etc).
Some phones/plans allow you to access individual call costs, and some do not.
Ask at the store if you can sell back the phone at the end of your stay. If so, what are the conditions?
You may choose your phone model and service provider.
Past Students have bought cell phones from:

Ritar—Via Buonvicini, 12-12a
Wind—Via degli Artisti, 19a/r
Nokia Point—Via degli Artisti, 45
Euronics—Viale dei Mille, 140 

Tips & General Information:

Save all receipts, boxes, manuals, etc. as proof of purchase and to facilitate resale (if possible).
Read the instruction manual before using.
Be sure to read any contracts/agreements before signing them.
Ask to have the phone set to English language to facilitate use.
Cell phones are prime targets for pick-pockets so beware on buses and in crowded locales.
If your phone is lost or stolen, block your number immediately by contacting the store or service carrier to avoid fraudulent charges. Sometimes recuperating unused credit is possible.
All phone charges in Italy are more expensive than in the United States!
Be sure to turn off your cell phone during classes and while in the library. Other inappropriate places for use include churches, museums, libraries, etc.
Don't forget to turn your phone number into room 25. It is important that SUF has your number on file for any eventual urgent messages we may need to relay to you.
Please Note: Syracuse University in Florence provides this information as a courtesy to all interested parties. It is not offered as a recommendation. Consultations, contracts and all other relationships between buyer/client and vendor/service provider are considered private and payment for all services contracted is the sole responsibility of the student.

Field Study
An exciting, successful Field Studies Program that will fully immerse you into the history of Italy awaits you. Travel to diverse locations throughout Italy and discover how and why so many Italian cities became the great centers of art and architecture. On any given weekend you may find yourselves exploring the excavations of Pompeii, deep in an Etruscan tomb, on top of the dome of St. Peter's, or floating down the Grand Canal in Venice.

 SUF's Field Studies include interesting visits to monuments and museums, some private openings, behind-the-scenes visits, hands-on experiences and fascinating lectures by professors and field trip lecturers. Together we will explore the history of Italy from the Etruscans to Modern Italy.

Enjoy an intense program full of information, adventure and knowledgeable lecturers infused with enthusiasm for this wonderful country.

All School Field Study
The objective of the All-School Field Studies Program is to offer students the opportunity to travel to cities throughout Italy under the guidance of an experienced professor or lecturer.

In the past All-School Field Studies Program included day trips to Assisi, the Gori collection, a special Insider's Florence day, Pisa/Lucca, Ravenna, Siena/San Gimignano and an overnight trip to Rome.

The trips are open to all students and are repeated many times during the semester to accommodate the student's schedules.

Extracurricular Activities
Syracuse University in Florence offers a variety of extracurricular activities to fit everyone's taste. Get involved and try new things. Participating in SUF's extracurricular activities will help you gain a greater understanding of Italian life and culture, help you get to know your fellow classmates, and complement your academic curriculum.

The schedule of activities is available in the Student Life Office at the beginning of each semester as well as on the Events Calendar on the SUF homepage.

Sign-up in the Student Life Office for the following activities: Cooking Classes, Wine and Olive Oil Tasting, Soccer, Spazio Conversazione, Volunteer Program, -Hiking around Florence, Corri La Vita Walkathon/Marathon, Sports in Florence, La Fiorentina soccer games, and Bike tours in Tuscany.

Community Engagement
Most students come to a foreign country thinking only about what they can get out of their study abroad experience. By getting involved in SUF's volunteer programs or by participating in SUF featured events, SUF students not only gain an invaluable cultural experience but also give back to their host community, the city of Florence. Special cultural and artistic events that benefit the city and its citizens are organized by Syracuse University in Florence in collaboration with various Florentine institutions. Contributing to the already rich cultural life of the city through active community outreach therefore benefits both the city of Florence and the hosted institution, SUF, by providing the opportunity for mutual enrichment and appreciation.

Volunteer Program
At Syracuse University in Florence we know you want to get out into the Italian Community and immerse yourself into the culture. The best way to understand a country is to become a part of it. By volunteering, you are giving something back to your host country and at the same time, gaining invaluable insight about yourself and others. Choose from four completely different but rewarding volunteer programs or try out more than one. You may see yourself reading English books to Italian Elementary children. Maybe you are the adventurous type who dares to try something exhilarating like staking vineyards that were confiscated from the Mafia in Sicily. Find out what it means to be an underprivileged foreigner in Italy by working in a soup kitchen that supplies a hot lunch to anyone in need. Create special friendships by spending time with young adults with Down Syndrome. Help out in a shelter for women and children in need of a safe and comfortable environment. Whatever you choose to do, volunteering in a foreign country is a way to help others and get to know yourself better at the same time. Volunteer more than just your time... and leave a little piece of yourself behind.