Preparing for Your CIMBA Experience
Before you arrive in Italy, there are many important steps to complete. This page has valuable information that will help ensure you have a successful time at CIMBA. In addition to this information, we will have a faculty conference call before you leave for Italy so you can ask both the US and Italy staff questions. You will get to “meet” other professors who will be in Italy with you and ask any veteran professors questions as well. If at any point in the process of getting ready to live in Italy you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact Chris Knudsen.
Booking your Flight
Venice Marco Polo (VCE) is the closest and most convenient major airport for incoming international flights. Before booking, please double check the latest session dates so you arrive and depart on the correct days. Keep in mind when planning that you will lose a day on your flight to Italy due to the time change. Also, when deciding when to depart, please note that you can stay in the apartment one or two days after the student check-out day so you have time to grade your finals and pack before leaving.
If you are planning any personal travel before or after the program, it is important to consider the immigration rules. Italy is part of the Schengen Region, which allows tourists from the U.S. to stay in the area for 90 days within a 180 day period without a visa. Since you will be on the CIMBA campus for 88 days, you should plan any additional personal travel outside this region.
Getting to Campus
Most faculty members will choose to rent a car at Venice and drive to campus when they arrive. Full directions to campus can be found here. If you would feel more comfortable, however, CIMBA can arrange for a taxi to pick you up from the airport and take you directly to campus. The cost of this taxi is approximately 90€, paid in cash. Please keep the emergency staff phone number (+39-3357-851270) with you in case there are any changes to your travel schedule or emergencies.
Upon arrival, a staff member will give you a tour of campus and show you to your apartment. They will provide you with some basic information about the area and your itinerary for the next few days. More detailed information will be covered in the mandatory orientation. A faculty orientation covering academics, policies, the local environment, technology, etc. is mandatory and will be held in the first few days following your arrival. It is important to attend orientation to get to know the staff, CIMBA policies, and your fellow professors and to have your questions answered before the students arrive on campus. Once the students arrive, the CIMBA staff is very busy addressing their needs, especially since many of them have never been abroad before.
When it comes to cell phones, you have many choices while at CIMBA. We recommend exploring all of your options to determine which plan meets your needs and budget. Here are a few ways to start your research:
- PicCell: This is a wireless provider that offers both phones and SIM cards that you can use in your personal phone (must be unlocked by provider in your home country). If you order a phone or card through PicCell at least 14 days before your departure, you can have a phone in your hand by the time you leave. We recommend looking through PicCell’s Cell Phone Option to learn more about this provider. We also recommend being very familiar with their fees. We have received positive reactions in the past from participants who selected this option as well as feedback that they wish they read the policy closer.
- Using your own phone: You can check with your provider on what options they have for international calling. We recommend thoroughly investigating the potential charges you could incur. It is important to consider how/if you need to use data while abroad, or if just the WiFi and calling features will suffice. Many participants will use their smartphone in airplane mode so they can connect to WiFi to use Skype or texting apps, but not incur data or cellular charges. This decision will be largely dependent on your provider and your expected amount of usage.
- Purchasing an Italian phone: Once you arrive in Europe, you can purchase a phone at various local convenience stores. This would be an Italian plan and phone number.
- Purchasing a SIM card: You have the option of having your phone unlocked before going to Italy and purchasing a SIM card with a set amount of money on it. These cards are available at the convenience stores in Paderno. This means that if you purchase 20 Euros, you can use your phone until the money runs out, then decide if you want to purchase additional time. This option works really well if you have a phone that is not a smartphone and is not connected to your home wireless plan. You may need a SIM card for Italy and one for the rest of Europe, so please consider that when researching options.
- Skype, Viber, and calling and texting apps: To minimize international calling fees, we recommend you take advantage of free texting and calling apps whenever possible. Begin researching popular apps, such as Viber, Skype, and WhatsApp, which use WiFi to communicate with those at home. It is important that both you and your loved ones download and test these applications prior to departure. WiFi is available in every dorm room on campus and in many common areas, as well as throughout most of Europe, to help you stay connected.
More specific information can be found at the PicCell website.
While teaching for CIMBA, you will be a faculty member of the University of Iowa. Therefore, you will be covered under a comprehensive travel insurance plan through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI). Coverage will begin two days before your program’s faculty orientation and will extend until four days after the end of the program. Details can be found on the the UI study abroad web page.
To purchase insurance for dependents traveling with you, you will need to complete CISI’s Dependent Enrollment Form; the cost per dependent is $1.19/day. All dependents need to be covered, at a minimum, by emergency evacuation and repatriation insurance, whether through CISI or elsewhere.
To extend your CISI coverage dates for personal travel, please follow the directions on the policy email that will be sent to your University of Iowa email account approximately two weeks before your departure date.
For teaching, you should pack clothing similar to what you would wear during class at your home institution (collared shirt and slacks for men, blouses and nice pants or skirts for women). Even though we promote a personal environment at CIMBA, we want to ensure that professors maintain authority in the classroom. Business casual attire with closed toed shoes are required for the company tours that you will attend with the students. The gourmet dinners are more formal, and professors typically dress in ties and suit coats or nice dresses. When packing, keep in mind not only the weather in Italy, but also the locations where you will travel during breaks as the climate across Europe varies drastically. More helpful packing tips can be found in the study abroad packing guide.
Before you leave:
- Call your bank, debit cards, and credit card companies to:
- Let them know the dates you will be living in Italy, and also emphasize that you will be traveling around Europe. You may want to add a few days before and after in case your plans change so they not freeze your account when they see international charges.
- Inquire about international fees for using your debit and credit cards to make informed decisions about how you spend. They may have a recommendation for a card that works better for foreign transactions.
- You may want to consider putting a trusted family member or friend on your accounts so if you have any difficulties while abroad, they can call the bank on your behalf. This is especially helpful considering the time difference between the U.S. and Italy.
- Request to have back-up copies of your card mailed to you prior to departure. This way, if a card gets stuck in an incompatible machine, you will not be left without convenient access to your funds.
- Convert at least 150 Euros before departing for Europe at a local bank to have to pay for the taxi and in case of an emergency. Avoid converting money at airports and train stations as they likely have higher exchange rates. Once you arrive on campus, you can withdraw more money at the ATMs in town.
- Make copies of your important documents, including your credit and debit cards. Keep these in a separate location than your original cards, and leave a copy with a trusted family member. This will help if your card is lost or stolen.
- Make sure you either have access to your bills online or designate someone at home to facilitate payments.
Cash: Europe is a very cash friendly society. Expect to use cash at restaurants, shops, markets, and for admissions to attractions. Many times you are not able to split a bill amongst several diners, so it is important to have exact change. Keep in mind that Euro coins have different monetary values than American coins.
We recommend using the ATMs on and around campus to withdraw Euros, as they have a fair exchange rate. You may want to withdraw a larger amount of money each time to avoid numerous ATM charges. It is important to make sure your card is compatible with an ATM by matching the symbols on your card to the symbol on the ATM before inserting your card.
Debit and credit cards: You will use debit and credit cards for larger purchases abroad like tickets, large souvenirs, and hotels/hostels. Most large debit and credit providers are accepted throughout Europe. AMEX is not as widely accepted as MasterCard and Visa.
Money safety: You should store valuable items such as your passport, identification, cash, and credit cards in a secure location. CIMBA recommends purchasing a money belt or neck pouch. A money belt is less susceptible to pickpocketing and is out of sight for criminals. You can keep the majority of your money in this secure location and carry only a small amount in your purse or wallet. We recommend never having all of your money and cards in one place.
Electric voltage and delivery in Europe is different than in the United States. Your devices require a different plug shape (adapter) and voltage (converter) to function in Europe. You can purchase these individually or as a combined unit at most travel and electronic stores as well as Walmart or Target.
To insert your American devices into European outlets, you need an adapter to change their shape. Depending on how many devices you will use at one time, you may want more than one. If you intend to travel to many different countries, please keep in mind that some non-Italian countries in Europe also have different outlet shapes. We recommend looking at universal outlet adapters as an option.
The standard voltage in Europe is 220 volts, compared to the United States where it is 110 volts. This means that most of your electronic devices will not work in Europe or will require a converter.
We recommend that you look at the plug on your device, which lists its voltage compatibility. Many electronic devices like laptops, camera chargers, and phone chargers will list 110-220v, meaning they can be used in Europe without a converter. If your device only lists 110v, you need a converter.
Certain devices will not work in Europe, even with an adapter and converter, and will be destroyed if you plug them in. You also risk injury to yourself and your surroundings.
Devices that WILL NOT work include:
- Hair dryer
- Hair straightener
- Curling Iron
- Electric razor
- Plug-in clock (Most people use their phone for a clock and alarm or bring a small, battery operated travel clock with them.)
You can purchase inexpensive versions of these items once you arrive in Italy or purchase a dual voltage one specifically for Europe before you arrive.