Before leaving for Rome, there was a lot to organize, like what to pack, getting my visa, and finalizing my travel plans. With thousands of little details running through my head before I left, there were inevitably some things that slipped my mind that I had to deal with once I arrived. Here are some details that slipped my mind so that you can be a little more prepared than I was.
Rome Permit to Stay
To live in Rome for the entirety of the program, you have to apply for a “permit to stay.” The Italian Consulate sort of prepared me for this by informing me to bring a copy of all of the documents I brought to my Visa appointment. Once I arrived, IES Abroad thankfully makes this process a lot easier for students by hosting an event at the center where you can provide your documents to the necessary workers rather than go to the right office in the city. I did not have all of the necessary copies/documents for this process, so I had to spend some time making the right copies when I wish I would have prepared those at home. Here is what you need to obtain your permit to stay in Rome:
- Original Passport
- Copy of the photo page of your passport
- Copy of the visa page of your passport
- Copy of proof of enrollment in IES Abroad program stamped by the Italian consulate
- Around 120 euros on a credit/debit card
- Once you have these documents, the process is very easy thanks to IES Abroad.
Organizing your room
Packing accessories for my room was not a priority for me when preparing to come abroad, especially because they took up valuable room in my suitcase. On the first day, I was walking around Rome wishing there was a Target—my first bout of homesickness! Eventually, I found a great store called Tiger which has a lot of cheap knick-knacks like organizing bins, school supplies, and kitchen supplies. It’s a great inexpensive one-stop-shop for organizing your room while abroad so you feel comfortable and at home.
Getting your SIM card
Figuring out my phone plan for living abroad should have been a priority before leaving, but I really didn’t spend much time researching it before I left. The only thing you need to do before you leave is to make sure your phone is unlocked, because if it is “locked” then you can’t switch out the SIM card in your phone which would be a hassle once abroad. With Verizon, your phone is automatically unlocked 60 days after purchasing a new phone. In my case, I’ve had my phone for years so that wasn’t something I had to worry about. There are a few options for using your phone abroad. IES Abroad requires that you have a functional phone while abroad, so it’s not possible to not get some sort of plan. The two main options I’ve seen through my research are:
1) Buying an international plan with your home carrier. With Verizon, I think this consists of paying $10 a day with limited data, texts, and calls. This plan is much more expensive and not as practical for spending 3 months abroad.
2) Buying a new SIM card with an international carrier. The most popular carriers here in Italy are TIM, Vodafone, WIND, and 3. I think TIM and Vodafone are the most popular, reliable, and widely used carriers here. I looked at TIM and Vodafone SIM cards, and I found that TIM was a bit cheaper, had more minutes and data, and were more willing to serve Americans in the store. It’s important to note that if you are an IES Abroad student, you have to spend a few more euros to buy texting abilities through Europe because IES Abroad sends emergency notifications through text. Both stores spoke English, so it is not totally necessary to go with an ISC or Italian speaker. The process was pretty easy and my phone has been working well with the new card.
*TIP*: download Whatsapp before you leave and create an account with your American number. This is the easiest way to text and call with your family and friends without using minutes or text, and it just uses a little bit of data or wifi.
I hope these tips were useful and quelled some anxiety about departing for your study abroad experience!
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<p>My name is Jackie Jones and I'm a sophomore at Claremont Mckenna College in Claremont, CA from San Diego, CA. I enjoy traveling, photography, fashion, music and playing volleyball for my school. On the weekends, you can find me playing Spikeball, beach volleyball, or on a deep-dive of music videos on Youtube.</p>