Guidance and Advice for Fall 2020 Applicants
If you have already been accepted, or even if you are thinking of applying for one of Umbra’s programs, we can imagine there is a lot of uncertainty during these challenging times. You may be asking will I be able to study abroad this fall? Will the programs be running? Can I travel? When do I have to make a decision? Well, this page will help answer some of your questions and address some of your concerns.
At Umbra, we know that this crisis will come to an end and as the focus turns to improvement and cures, travel restrictions will gradually be lifted and advisories will be lowered. We are ready to get back on track and do what we do best: welcome students back to Italy for a safe, rewarding, and unforgettable study abroad experience.
At this time, we do not believe that the situation in Italy will have any impact on fall semester study. But as US universities switch to remote learning and the summer session closes in, most students are wondering if the programs in Italy will run as scheduled. Below are some FAQs which will help provide some guidance for students already accepted and committed for the fall semester in Perugia, as well as those still wishing to apply.
Important Note: The information on this page is specific to the Umbra Institute. It is important that you also communicate with your university’s study abroad office regarding any questions you have, even those related to deadlines, deposits, flights, etc.
Will the fall 2020 program still run?
Yes, at this time the fall semester program is set to run as scheduled. We fully expect the crisis to be over well in advance of the start of the fall semester. We will, of course, provide our fall applicants with more guidance in the coming weeks. But as of this moment, none of our university partners have communicated an interest in canceling fall programming at this time.
Currently, Fall 2020 application deadline for Umbra remains June 15th, as we do need time to send you documents for your visa and to guide you through the visa application process. It is important that you also check with your home school regarding their fall application deadlines and policies. That said, we will delay all invoicing until after the fall application deadline and delay cancellation fees to give students and their families more time to monitor the global covid-19 situation.
After this crisis is over, and after all college and university students have been through this spring semester, with on-campus activities suspended and study abroad programs interrupted, we at Umbra can see no better way to overcome the effects of this crisis than to allow students to study abroad and enjoy Italy’s vibrant culture and landscape.
What is the criteria for deciding to run the fall programming as scheduled?
For the fall semester programs to run, the State Department travel advisory for Italy, which is currently at Level 3, will have to be lowered to Level 1 or Level 2, and US travel restrictions to Europe must be lifted. This will be an overall indicator that it is safe to travel and study in Italy. If we find that the advisory has been lowered on or before August 1st, our fall programs should run as scheduled or with a delayed starting date. If by August 1st, there is no change in the advisories, we will not run fall programs.
Please remember that the application deadline is still June 15th and we will continue to assist you through the Italian visa process. We recommend that you contact your Umbra advisor about scheduling a visa appointment with an ideal timeline for processing if you’ve not already.
Can I still apply? If so, till when?
Certainly! Barring any prior notice, we will be accepting applications as late as June 15th. We know a lot of universities are closed but study abroad advisors are still hard at work and we recommend reaching out to them. Also, our advisors are here to chat with you to make sure you have access to all the information you need to plan for your semester abroad. We are also happy to virtually introduce you to your study abroad advisor at your home university if you’re unsure about who to contact.
My university is closed right now, how do I get study abroad information?
Don’t worry, your advisors are working from home. If you haven’t already been in touch with them, or have consulted their website and are still uncertain about who to contact, you can contact us and we’ll introduce you via email to the advisor we work with at your home school to get you started with information specific to your home institution.
What if I decide or need to cancel last minute?
Umbra has waived all cancellation fees for the fall semester through August 1st. If at any time during that period there is a need to cancel, no fees will apply and any and all payments advanced to Umbra will be fully refundable. You will need to check with your home institution regarding their application extensions/deadlines and refund policies. Umbra will wait to send invoices to schools and students until travel advisories are lifted.
I applied and have been accepted, should I book my flight now?
Fantastic idea! You are encouraged to proceed as planned in booking your flights and preparing for your study abroad experience. Airline fares are probably quite low at this time and you may want to purchase now before fees rise. Check and see if your airfare is redeemable (refund or credit) and/or are not subject to change fees.
We do advise that you purchase trip insurance that could cover any potential need to cancel or reschedule your flights, regardless of which semester you plan to study in Italy. You never know when that may come in handy. In all scenarios where you book flights for a long-term stay, trip insurance can be a good idea; for example, some past students have used trip insurance to return home early for a family emergency. When reviewing insurance options, just make sure that you read the fine print.
What is happening in Italy right now with covid-19?
Italians are singing from balconies, trying new recipes, and finding other creative ways to pass the time so that the health crisis can swiftly come to an end. We can’t be more proud of how our community has come together under quarantine and we can’t wait to share the strength and beauty of our country with visitors again soon!
Italian national authorities have taken unprecedented measures to curtail the spread of the virus and reduce the number of new confirmed cases in order to bring an end to the virus outbreak as quickly as possible. Our team is in regular communication with the Italian Health and Education Ministries, with the Association of American College and University Programs in Italy (AACUPI), EduItalia, and other local authorities to monitor this situation. Our US office regularly listens to CDC and Presidential briefings, monitors the CDC and State Department websites, and reviews the general news for relative global updates. We are working hard to ensure that all of our decisions are based on as much information as can be collected and that we are able to communicate updates to students should they be relative to their intended semester or session of study in Italy.
While Italy is reporting an increasing number of coronavirus cases, these are primarily in Northern regions where the outbreak was most significant. Other regions, like Umbria, have very low infection rates with limited growth despite significant testing and are providing resource assistance to the North. High recovery rates are regularly being reported across the country. Roughly half of those diagnosed with the virus are safely recovering at home and many of those diagnosed are showing few to no symptoms. Ten percent of those diagnosed have already reached full recovery and that number is increasing daily.
What if Umbra programs run as scheduled but I am not sure if I should still study in Italy?
As of now, the Fall 2019 application deadline for Umbra remains June 15th, as we do need time to send you documents for your visa and guide you through the visa application process. That said, we will delay all invoicing until after the fall application deadline to give students and their families more time to monitor the global covid-19 situation.
Students should always refer to their home institution to confirm any deadline or billing-related extensions.
Is it safe for me to study in Italy?
At this time our spring semester program has been suspended and we are proud to say that we were able to assist all of our students in making their arrangements prior to the recent flight restrictions for Europe. The Institute will not run its programs unless it has been communicated to us that it is safe for students to live and travel in Italy. So if our programs are reactivated, it will be based on the recommendations of the State Department, CDC and local authorities. And although the coronavirus has been widely reported to pose a minimal risk for those under 50, especially young adults*, each student should feel comfortable studying abroad.
The Umbra Institute has a superb student services staff that is on-call 24/7 to ensure students and families feel confident in remaining healthy and safe while in Perugia.
*Reference: the New England Jorunal of Medicine: Covid-19 — Navigating the Uncharted
Please obtain information from trusted sources like NEJM, the WHO, and the CDC.
I have more questions; can I speak to someone?
If you or anyone else you are processing this decision with have further questions, please reach out to your Umbra advisors in our US offices (Zach Nowak: [email protected]; or Ashley Webb: [email protected]). They can arrange a time to chat with you by phone or Skype to help you understand the levels of support that Umbra can provide.