By Samantha Woodward
New Italian Law Passed
Friday, Dec. 18, the Association of American College and University Programs in Italy (AACUPI) replaced the adminitration’ss old stay permit for US students attending school programs in Italy with the traditional declaration of presence, “dichiarazione di presenza”. This “dichiarazione di presenza” requires a filing by students for a summer term or for programs in Italy that last 90 days or less along with a declaration of guarantee, “dichiarazione di garanzia”.
The new law, approved by the AACUPI over Zoom, allows students to remain in Italy for up to 150 consecutive days without requiring the students to request a stay permit. The law went into effect on Dec. 20.
This month, Italian authorities passed a set of immigration laws, one of which specifically concerning studying abroad programs in Italy. The law is still requiring student visas for those staying longer than 90 days.
In an e-mail sent to Florence News, Director of the International Studies Institute (ISI) of Florence, Dr. Stefano Baldassarri breaks down this new legislation.
“What [it] has canceled is such annoying, expensive, and time -consuming procedures … like taking students to the local post office, buying postal kits to request the old “stay permit”, take students to the police stations for finger printing and collecting biometric data etc.,” Baldassari said.
Students around the world have had to make alterations to their collegiate learning experiences as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. One experience hit severely hard is students abilities to travel and gain knowledge abroad.
How Universities and Students are Coping
Since early 2020, students have been forced to return home from their abroad countries as well as cancel their foreseeable plans to study in other parts of the world.
Francesca Pannozzo is the Senior Program Coordinator for Accent Global Learning Florence. She said that because of the global surge of COVID-19, there is currently no students studying abroad in Florence.
Although there has been a lack of physical presence of students in the area, Pannozzo and her team at Accent partnered with the University of Minnesota this past fall semester to create an experience for students to take place of their disrupted abroad plans.
The University of Minnesota’s Learning Abroad Center opened its application for virtual internships for this fall and spring semesters. Location placements varied across the globe from medical internships in South America to software programming in Australia.
Internships took place over remote platforms where students were able to experience elements of their study abroad programs that were reconstructed due to the pandemic.
Pannozzo worked with the university and Accent to coordinate the Florence programs, and although is excited for the future of remote learning, said she misses students presence in Italy. She said that they create a unique learning experience as well as expansion of intercultural awareness for both the students themselves as well as the Accent team.
Pannozzo said that this experience constructed to combat the unprecedented times they faced this year attempted to fill the hole that was left with the absence of travel.
“When you stop traveling and you kind of block all of the exchanges of people, of ideas, etcetera… you kind of lose something,” she said.
Fabrizio Ricciardelli, P.h. D, the Legal Representative of the Kent State University Florence Center and professor of Renaissance history, said that prior to the pandemic, there were around 900 students on campus throughout a full year of three terms, fall, spring and summer.
Now, there are none.
Ricciardelli studied abroad to the United Kingdom during his post doctoral career and said that students “are missing a lot” by not being able to experience other cultures first-hand.
He said that it is frustrating at the lack of interaction with students as Kent State has transitioned to online learning, and Ricciardelli teaches three classes. He said he loves being able to show students the history of Florence through various churches and museums that tell the story of the Tuscan region.
A native to Florence, Ricciardelli said that Florence was built by the working class who created the city “in [a] joyous and beautiful way” that would become the home of ideas such as democracy and the middle class work identity.
Pannozzo predicts a decline in interest of traveling in the short term as countries continue to grapple with the effects of the pandemic. However, she hopes for further student curiosity to revitalize the popularity of study abroad and bring back students to the historic city that once attracted millions a year as the new Italian law allows for more stay flexibility.
Ricciardelli hopes that 2021 is the year of rebirth for travel and student’s experiences abroad.
“It’s not only the students who learn something from this process, it’s also [the faculty involved],” Pannozzo said.