Studying in Italy: how to get ready in 7 steps
Finally, your dream of studying in Italy has come true. After months of document preparation and a deep dive into Italian bureaucracy, your enrolment with an Italian university is complete and you are ready for your next big step: moving to Italy.
Studying in Italy will be the most amazing experience of your life, and you better be prepared for it.
In this article, we’ll go through the fundamental 7 steps to effortlessly move to Italy. We’ve divided them into three chronological phases:
- Getting ready to move
- The first weeks in Italy
Are you ready for the big move? Let’s go!
When moving to a new city or country, finding proper accommodation is quite a big deal. Choosing the place where you will live for the next year or so will have a huge impact on your overall life and well-being, hence this choice should not be underestimated.
However, finding the perfect accommodation in Italy will be easy if you will take these little tips into account.
Research, find, ask, check, repeat.
Looking for a room in Italy while you’re sitting on your sofa back at home might look like a very difficult task. However, thanks to a number of modern tools and resources, it will prove easier than expected.
When moving abroad, you should at first investigate a little bit about the urban structure of the city you will be living in. For example, learning about its size and its public transportation network, or the habits of its inhabitants.
In order to do so, you can start from the neighbourhood where the university is located, and how it is connected with the rest of the city.
Here are a few questions you might want to find the answers to:
Is the university in a central area, or far from the city center?
Where do students typically live?
Are there any areas of the city that are considered not safe?
How do students generally commute to the university?
TIP: Always double-check the information you find. Whenever possible, search for official resources and avoid trusting random blogs or casual reviews of fortuitous visitors.
Then, once you’ve narrowed down your search to one or two areas of the city, start looking at rental listings in these areas. This will give you an idea of the average price for a room or an apartment, and their usual structure.
Depending on where you will be studying in Italy, you might encounter different scenarios. In big cities, for example, there’s a huge offer of rooms and apartments, the price of which changes according to the are of the city. In smaller cities, there is limited offer of housing, but the majority of them is fairly priced and centrally located. Overall, while the historic city center is often the most charming area to live in, apartments there might be quite old and not always renovated. For instance, you may find narrow staircases and no elevator in a 5-stories building. In some cases, apartments also appear to have unusual formats, with several rooms only accessible through other rooms and not through the main aisle. For this reason, sometimes different rooms in the same apartment have different prices, according to their size, shape and accessibility.
TIP: Besides a few exceptions, in Italy students tend to share apartments in buildings where other locals live, rather than living in student residences. This allows students to grow from an interpersonal point of view, while also learning to be good and respectful neighbours.
Every university in Italy has a list of suggested resources to help you find suitable accommodation. Some institutions also have a selected network of trusted housing providers. But in the meantime, you can start your research from one of these websites:
Always remember to note down the exact address of the apartment you’re looking at, so that you can check a few additional things, such as:
Are there supermarkets, pharmacies, cafès and restaurants nearby?
Where is the closest bus-metro-tram station?
How do the street and the area look like on Google Street View?
Once you’ve selected a few listings, here are some of the things you should focus on:
How big is the apartment and how many people live there?
How many toilets/bathrooms are there?
How is the cleaning organized?
Are there any common spaces (kitchen, living room, terrace etc.)?
Are the other apartment occupants students or workers?
How big is the room and how is it furnished?
Is there a functioning heating/cooling system?
Is there a washing machine?
Before moving into a new apartment, it would be crucial to have a sense of what life in the apartment will be like. There is no right or wrong answer to the questions above; they will simply provide you with an idea of what living and studying in Italy will be like.
TIP: if a specific listing looks particularly attracting, yet unreasonably cheap compared to similar ones, there must be a reason why. Remember that similar or equivalent listings should have similar prices – it’s sort of an unwritten market rule. Very often, an exceptionally high price doesn’t necessarily mean higher quality, but only easier profits for the lessor.
Do your math
Life abroad is more than school and rent, in a lot of different ways. That’s why studying in Italy will so powerfully enrich you as a person, as you will gain unprecedented human, interpersonal and practical skills.
The first of these will probably be the ability to estimate your monthly expenses, and stick to a set monetary budget.
Probably, the most expensive item on your monthly budget will be the rent, but you should not overlook a number of other costs connected with it. Let’s have a look at a few possible options related to your future rental agreement.
Are the costs of electricity, water, heating, garbage tax and Wi-fi included in your monthly rent? If not, can the owner provide you with an estimate of the additional costs involved? Also, remember that some apartments have relatively high building fees, which can be charged to the apartment occupants.
How far is the apartment from your university? Will you need to commute via public transportation every day? If so, how much will a monthly or yearly metro pass cost? And in terms of time, how long will it take for you to get there every day? You know time is money, even if you’re not apparently paying it. Sometimes, a better-located apartment might be slightly more expensive, but it will save you a lot of hustle and bustle. And more time on your hands also means more time to enjoy your life in Italy!
There’s a new place like home
After hours on a spreadsheet and 12654 e-mails and phone calls, you’ve finally made your choice and are ready to sign your rental agreement.
Before you do so, look carefully at the duration of your proposed rental agreement and make sure it suits your needs. Most importantly, check that the deadlines for communicating a withdrawal from the contract are clearly stated, and what fines (if any) would be applied.
Of course you don’t want to move out of your new apartment after two months, but should you have to, you need to be able to do it fuss-free.
If you’re not sure about any part of the agreement, ask for clarifications. If the agreement is entirely written in Italian, you can ask for an English translation to be attached to it.
Don’t forget that your signature isn’t just nice handwriting, but a serious commitment to comply with.
Pack your bags, Italy awaits!
How often have you been in need of a fresh start? Studying in Italy can be your opportunity to start from a clean slate, leave some unnecessary things behind and start a new life. We’re not talking about suddenly embracing minimalism and getting rid of all your stuff. We’re simply highlighting the opportunity to select a few things to bring with you on this new adventure, and leave other things safe at home. This exercise can actually help you a lot in the process of understanding how many of the things you own are really necessary, and how many others are nice, but superfluous.
First off, start picking up the things you know you will want with you on this new adventure. These can be clothes, shoes, a notebook, a mug, a backpack, a lucky charm. Be reasonable and don’t overdo it. Are you really sure you need that plush toy from 6th grade? Maybe it’s best to leave it at home with the rest of the furry crew. Besides clothing and shoes, select only a limited number of additional items, like 5 or 10 items top.
When picking up items from your wardrobe, plan carefully. Here are some ideas:
How is the weather like in the city in Italy where I’m moving to? If it never snows, then maybe your snow jacket isn’t really necessary.
Does it rain a lot? Is it very wind? In some cases, a small umbrella will be ok, but in other cases, you will need a rainproof jacket to be on the safe side. And rainboots, too.
Is there central heating in the apartment? Is there any heating at all? Surprisingly enough, there are some places in Italy, especially in the south, where apartments have no heating. Thanks to a very mild climate, heating is sometimes not considered as a necessity, but as a plus. Bring a couple of sweaters more, in this case. In other areas, apartments with central heating can be incredibly hot during winter. In this case, a t-shirt will be more than enough to stay home.
Will there be bed linens and towels, or shall I bring my own? Unless you’re opting for a full-service accommodation, you will probably have to use your own bed linens and towels. If they take up too much space in your luggage, you can buy them on site.
Choose to bring comfortable shoes, as you will need them (especially during the first weeks when you will be exploring the city). You probably think Italians wear heels and fancy shoes all the time, but that’s not true. Even though, some of them manage to be elegant even when wearing trainers. But that’s another story.
Studying in Italy will be a new adventure, of course, but not a wild one. No need to pack giant-sized shower gels and shampoos: they sell those in Italy, too. Save that room and weight for something else!
Pack the essentials, and if the essential is not enough, prepare a box of things that your family and friend can ship over to you once you will have settled in.
Try to travel light, and have at least one of your hands free at all times. Remember that you will have to carry your backpack and luggage on and off the plane, through airports and security, on the bus or train from the airport once you arrive at your destination. In such circumstances, a funny pack or a small crossbody bag can come in very handy to keep your phone and passport at reach.
For a full and extensive list on how to pack for a long-term trip abroad, read this article.
Are your flights booked, and your bags packed? Have you checked your itinerary from the arrival airport in Italy to your final destination? If you still haven’t, you might want to look at a couple of transportation options, just in case something doesn’t go as planned. Be informed about taxi fares: they’re almost always more expensive than public transportation, but they can get you straight to your new apartment after a long, exhausting flight. Always keep a taxi number, just as plan B. Very often, a plan B can become your best friend.
Do you have a contact number for the person who will check you in into the new apartment? Make sure to let them know about any relevant changes to your arrival schedule (like a flight delay). Start off with the right foot, be responsible and professional. They will appreciate being informed of any changes (they have a life, too!).
Finally, you’re in Italy! If you have received a study visa, you have 8 days from your arrival in Italy to apply for your permesso di soggiorno.
The residency permit (permesso di soggiorno) is the actual legal document that will allow you to live in Italy.
Generally, universities have help-desks that will support students through this fundamental step of the study abroad experience. However, let’s have a quick look at what this residency permit is and why it is so important.
The residency permit is the official document that will allow you to legitimately live and study in Italy. While the residency permit is issued by the Immigration Office of the local Questura (a police body), the application must be handed in at any post office with a Sportello Amico. The application documents are available, for free, at every post office. Inside this white and yellow C4-size envelope, there is a paper booklet (Modulo A) and the instructions to prepare the application and fill out the documents.
For a successful application, you will need the following:
- Residency permit kit (white&yellow envelope)
- € 16.00 revenue stamp (Marca da bollo), that you can buy at a tobacconist
- Photocopy of your passport (all pages containing information and stamps, including the visa page)
- Photocopy of proof of financial means (same as the one you needed to apply for your study visa)
- Photocopy of proof of medical insurance
- Copy of University’s enrollment confirmation letter (on University’s letterhead)
- € 70.46 (permit-request fee)
- € 30.00 (posting fee)
While filling out the residency permit application, you will need to fill out a payment slip of € 70.46. This is the required amount to pay for an up-to-a-year residency permit.
TIP: Do not try to fill out the documents by yourself. Even the smallest mistake will force you to re-do the entire application from scratch. Trust your university’s help desk with this.
In order to complete your application, you will need to send the envelope with the postal service. The fee for this mailing service is € 30.00.
TIP: remember to bring your original passport with you at the post office. Do not seal the envelope, but let the post office employee check that all the documents are in order. Do not stick the revenue stamp on the document, let the post office employee do it.
Once your application will be sent, the post office employee will give you a receipt. It will contain a USER ID and a PASSWORD, together with the details of an appointment (day and time) to go to the Questura Immigration Office.
From now on, you should always carry a copy of this receipt with your passport, to prove that you have applied for your permit of stay.
During the appointment at the Immigration Office, where you will get fingerprinted, you must also bring the following:
- 4 identical passport photos
- your passport and the postal receipt
- all original documents whose copies were enclosed in the application
You will be able to check the status of your application at any time on this website: Portale Immigrazione
Studying in Italy means living in Italy
Your first days in the new city are essential to get you acquainted with your new life. Studying in Italy is also about living in Italy, and most importantly about living like an Italian.
Take advantage of every opportunity that comes to you (a guided tour, a welcome event, a free tour of the city) to meet locals and explore the area.
Your new life in Italy will be made of many small things and new habits, in an entirely different setting.
Let’s have a look at a few things that might help you during your first days in your new city in Italy:
- Know your way around
Get familiar with how to travel to your university (on foot, by bike or public transportation), and learn all possible itineraries. If you have purchased a metro pass, use it to explore the city and get familiar with the public transportation system. Learn which buses and trams stop by your area, and find out where they go. Getting to know the place you live in will make your life a lot easier!
- Be an honorable roommate
Every house has some common rules to help the occupants get along well with each other. Make sure you learn these rules, which are often unwritten. Be respectful of the common spaces of the apartment, and of your roommates’ privacy and serenity. Knowing the rules can also be helpful in case someone else breaks them!
- Build a new routine
Studying in Italy doesn’t mean leaving your previous lifestyle entirely behind. It is more about integrating your hobbies and interests in a new routine. If you like sports, find out which options are available now that you are in Italy. If you love cooking, learn how to use the local ingredients, as some of your preferred ones might not be easy to find in Italy. If you’ve never cooked, learn some easy Italian recipes (pasta, of course!) to bring back home with you.
Plan your week including time for grocery shopping, house cleaning and for doing your laundry.
On top of it all, don’t forget that you are in Italy to study, so studying should always be your top priority.
- Involve your friends and family back home
Being away from home also means not being physically present in the everyday life of your family and friends. Luckily for you, there are so many other ways to keep yourself up-to-date with what goes on back home! Remember that while you’re having a great time abroad, the life of everyone else back home will continue, too. Try to set up a weekly video call with your family and friends to let them know how well you’re doing in Italy, but also to confess how much you miss them.
Italian bureaucracy has never looked easier
Finally, let’s have a look at a few eventual steps to finalize your administrative set up in Italy.
- Get a Codice Fiscale (fiscal code) at the local Agenzia delle Entrate (revenue agency). The fiscal code is an alphanumeric code used by the Italian public administration to uniquely identify everyone who lives in Italy. Only in some cases, you will be required to obtain a fiscal code before enrolling into your Italian university.
The fiscal code will be necessary for a number of administrative tasks such as opening a bank account or signing a job contract.
Let your Italian university’s international office help you filling this form out.
- Open a bank account with an Italian bank. This can be useful to avoid high commission rates when withdrawing money or paying with your credit card. Every city has several banks that offer very convenient plans for students.
In any case, the documents you will need to open a bank account are the following:
- Your Codice Fiscale (fiscal code)
- Your passport / ID card
- Your residency permit (or the postal receipt of your application)
- Certificate of enrolment with the Italian university
- Signed rental agreement or proof of your local address in Italy
Studying in Italy is an extraordinary experience, unique to every individual.
Everyone has its own background, aspirations and expectations, which will make this adventure so exclusive.
No how-to list will ever be long enough to include everything you might need to know while abroad. However, a great how-to list (such as this one) will prompt your ability to solve upcoming matters, or anticipate future issues. Moreover, it will help you process and use the information and advice you will be receiving every day while studying in Italy.
Are you ready?