Health & Wellbeing
The goal of the Student Life Department is to make sure students are safe. Italy’s health care system and overall hygienic standards are excellent. No specific health issues are to be expected, and no special immunizations or vaccinations are required to enter Italy from most countries. However, colds and flu bugs are common like in any country.
Personal safety is a concern for anyone in any part of the world. It is especially important to have a personal safety plan while abroad. This may include a strategy to cope with illness and culture shock, as well as emergency situations. It’s important to prevent the unexpected when you can. Most of us overestimate the danger of rare events, which we have little or no control over, yet underestimate the threat of everyday events we can control. Take steps to prevent situations such as theft, pedestrian safety, and getting lost. It is good to be prepared with prevention tips to ensure your own personal safety.
We collaborate with professional doctors from a lengthy and highly recommended background in assisting students and foreigners.
Please inquire whether the physician accepts your plan when you schedule the appointment to see if the cost of the visit is covered by direct payment, or contact your insurance provider directly for a list of physicians that your policy may cover.
Please always take your insurance card to the doctor and keep all receipts, also if you purchase any medicine at the pharmacy.
If you need to schedule a doctor’s appointment, please contact the Student Life and Development office. Our Advisors will put you in contact with the appropriate medical care services.
For more urgent care, or if you need to go to the Emergency Room, you can refer to the Hospital Santa Maria Nuova located in the City Center:
In Italy, as in most European countries, healthcare is available to all citizens and permanent residents in need of medical treatment, though the latter may be charged a nominal fee for this service. Students are welcome to use public health facilities for urgent care but with reasonable fees, depending on the services and exams rendered. For non-residential foreigners, there is always a charge to be paid upfront for an emergency room visit, which may or may not not be reimbursed by your international healthcare provider, depending on your plan.
Free on-site counseling:
We strive to support students by offering resources to help them achieve their academic and personal aspirations. Our counseling services offer support to students as they adjust to and learn about Italian culture. Free onsite counseling is accessible to all students.
To set up a counseling appointment, please email speak with the SLD office.
Pharmacies are located throughout the city center and are easily recognizable by the green or red cross displayed at the entrance. Please also note that there are two pharmacies operating on extended hours in the center of Florence. For an illness that does not require immediate medical treatment, a pharmacist can often assist with over-the-counter medications. Look for the green cross for a nearby pharmacy.
- Farmacia All’insegna del Moro, Piazza San Giovanni 20/r
- Farmacia Comunale, Inside Santa Maria Novella train station
Foreign prescriptions are not accepted in Italian pharmacies under any circumstance, and unless the medication is sold over the counter in Italy, a prescription from a physician licensed in Italy is required.
It is advisable for students to purchase any medication directly in Italy and never have medicine shipped from their home country, as the package will very likely get blocked at customs
Culture shock is defined as the disorientation experienced when a person is exposed to an unfamiliar culture or way of life. To help counteract and cope with these changes, it is important to keep in mind the following:
- Keep an open mind. Do not automatically perceive things that are different as ‘wrong’ or ‘bad.’ Withholding judgment will facilitate cross-cultural understanding. If you find yourself in or going to a country that you know little or nothing about, do some research to prepare yourself.
- Make an effort to pick up local customs and language, even just a few key phrases. Increasing your communication skills helps you to integrate with the local community. When locals see you make an effort to communicate in their language, they are more willing to help you. When all else fails, keep in mind a smile is universal.
- Follow what is going on in the community, especially in Florence. The city is teeming with festivals, events, and cultural activities; read the local newspapers and ask questions to integrate yourself with your new surroundings.
- Try to achieve a sense of stability in your life. Creating a routine will give you a feeling of safety and comfort.
- It is completely normal to feel a little disoriented and uncomfortable upon arrival! Don’t be too hard on yourself; it takes a little while to orient oneself and become comfortable. Also, keep in mind that you are not alone and that there are plenty of others in your shoes and plenty of people around to help.
- The SLD office also hosts cultural adjustment seminars during the semester.
- Sign up through the Student Portal!
Homesickness can affect people of all ages in almost any situation. This longing for home is common. Here are some helpful tips to help combat some of these feelings:
Create a network of friends in your new surroundings. You will find that there are many people who feel the same way as you do, and your mutual support can help during peaks of homesickness.
Make friends with your fellow peers. Don’t be afraid to branch out and ask others to grab a cup of coffee or lunch. Think of group activities to do or join in the activities provided through the campus. It is a great way to meet new people and stay engaged.
Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the ever-changing and increasing demands of life. During stressful times, stress management is important. Do not wait until stress has a negative impact on your health, relationships, or experience to take care of the situation.
Steps to combat your stress include:
- Identifying your stress triggers.
- Once you’ve identified your triggers, it is easier to start thinking about strategies for coping with them. Try to avoid the stressful situation and if that isn’t possible, find distractions, limit your time in the stressful environment, or seek help and support. It can be very helpful to talk through your situation, so you do not feel as if you need to figure things out all on your own.
- Examine how you currently cope with stress: Is it appropriate for your situation? Is it a healthy and helpful activity?
- Avoid unnecessary stress. Limiting your level of stress by not worrying about trivial things can be a first step in reducing your overwhelming feelings.
- Change the situation you are in.
Some things to help you relax can include stepping back from your situation and going for a walk or taking part in physical activity, deep breathing exercises, or seeking other healthy distractions. Writing down what is bothering you can also give you some insight into what is on your mind and from there you can reflect on effective solutions. Be willing to compromise in certain situations to find a happy medium and make sure to look at things in terms of the bigger picture. Try not to control the uncontrollable – this will only lead to more stress. Instead try your best to look at the upside to the situation.
Among the techniques to reduce stress, make time for fun and relaxation. Taking care of yourself and maintaining a healthy lifestyle both physically and mentally will help you to handle the challenges and stressors life sends your way.
Florence is considered a safe city, however, students should take the same precautions to protect themselves and their property that they would take in any large city. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:
- Student Contact Information: In the event of an emergency, it is imperative that staff be able to contact you. For this reason, students must provide accurate and up-to-date contact information, including emergency contact information. A local phone number: the university requires students to have either a local phone number or an international plan which allows them to make and receive calls. Students should not count on using WiFi for communication as WiFi is not always available or reliable. Please remember to keep your phone charged and with you at all times.
- Important Documents: Make a photo or digital copy of all important documents (passport and visa, driver’s license/ID card, health insurance information, immigration documents, etc.) in case you lose or misplace the originals. Keep these copies in a safe place, separate from the originals. Do not take originals with you unless traveling outside of Florence.
It is also a good idea to leave a copy at home with your family or emergency contacts.
Email important information (such as your passport number and expiration date, etc.) to yourself so that is always accessible.
- Safety in Numbers: Make every effort to avoid traveling alone when possible. Always let someone know of your travel plans, even just for day trips. When traveling outside of Florence overnight, the university requires all students to fill out the Travel Log on the Student Portal and to follow their specific provider’s instructions for travel plans.
- Be Aware of Your Surroundings: Always be aware of your surroundings, especially at night. Avoid bus and train stations and poorly-lit areas after dark, and make sure to always walk in groups. Keep a close eye on your belongings, especially in crowded places. NEVER leave your bags and belongings unattended. Not only is there the risk of losing or having your personal items stolen, but someone may place illegal items in your luggage for which you may be held responsible.
Before going to a place for the first time, always make sure to study a map and the route you would like to take. Looking confused or lost may make you a target.
- Make Smart Choices: Be aware that many countries have strict laws regarding the use and/or possession of illegal substances and you may face serious consequences for breaking these laws. Excessive drinking will impair your ability to judge situations and make decisions, making you more vulnerable and a possible target for crime.
- Always carry your phone, apartment keys, and some cash on you.
- Avoid carrying large amounts of cash on you. If you do need to carry a larger amount, divide it in different wallets and pockets.
- Never keep your home address together with your keys.
- Keep credit cards in a separate wallet from IDs and Cash.
- Don’t leave your personal belongings unattended and be aware of your belongings at all times, especially in crowded spaces.
- Don’t leave your apartment unsecured: lock your door before leaving the apartment and when you are home for the night.
- Avoid walking alone at night.
- Never invite a stranger to your apartment or enter a stranger’s apartment.
- Do not accept drinks or rides from strangers.
- Do not be lulled into a false sense of security. Be safety conscious but not fearful!
Students who travel overseas to reach Florence may experience Jet lag during the initial days or weeks. It is a temporary condition that occurs when a person travels across three or more time zones in a short period of time. As your body clock adjusts to the new time zone, your daily rhythms and internal drive for sleep and wakefulness can be out of sync. Each individual responds differently to the time change depending on age, physical fitness, and one’s ability to adapt to a new environment. Duration and intensity of jet lag are dependent on the number of time zones crossed, the direction of travel, and personal ability to sleep while traveling.
- Increased fatigue
- Poor sleep, early awakening, or fretful sleep
- Poor performance in physical and mental tasks during the daytime accompanied by headaches and difficulty concentrating
- Mild depression
- Increased irritability
- Gastrointestinal disturbances and decreased interest in the enjoyment of meals
- Optimize exposure to sunlight after arrival
- Eat meals at appropriate, new local time
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid excess caffeine or alcohol
- Take short naps (20-30 minutes) to increase energy without undermining nighttime sleep