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FFE Program - Frequently Asked Questions

1. How was I selected for the FFE?

A select number of students from the incoming freshman class are invited to participate in the FFE every year. Students are selected based on a number of criteria, including those whose academic goals might include international study, foreign language, or travel, and those whose majors are appropriate for study at the branch campus.

2. Are all students eligible to participate in the FFE?

The FFE program is offered to selected incoming freshmen and differs in eligibility requirements from the Study Abroad Program. Students participating in programs such as the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), the Learning Disabilities Program or Division I Athletics are not eligible to participate in FFE and may be eligible to study abroad at another time.

3. Where will I be living?

Freshmen students live in a special residence in the heart of Florence on Via del Corso, one of the oldest streets in the city. The five story building is occupied almost exclusively by Marist students and staff, and is beautifully renovated with terraces, common rooms, and unique living spaces. Students live in doubles and triples and share common spaces and bathrooms while enjoying beautiful views of the Duomo and central location to the school and major attractions in Florence. 

4. Is there laundry? Internet? How do I call home?

The freshman residence has laundry machines in every apartment. Italians do not generally use dryers (clothes are air-dried on terraces throughout Italy), but they are available nearby in laundromats for special use. The freshman residence is a wireless internet ready facility, and the branch campus has a student center with computers nearby. Students will be able to get wireless phones with a local Italian number and many students use Skype to stay in close contact with home for free.

5. How do I prepare meals?

Students will prepare their own meals in their apartments. Students will be taken to the Mercato Centrale (central market) as part of their orientation and learn the basics of shopping and food preparation. Like most European cities, Florence has a wealth of small markets - everything from cheeses to meats to pastries and vegetables. Students will find everything to meet their needs in a culturally rich environment.

6. What kind of living and miscellaneous expenses should I expect to have?

This is a difficult question to answer, as students will live differently depending on background, taste, and travel goals. Most students can live comfortably on 100-200 Euro a week, including meals, pocket money, and small travels. More extravagant trips and shopping will increase that budget. Most Florence freshman spend about as much on their meals as they would have spent on a meal plan in Poughkeepsie.

7. Will I have housing on the Poughkeepsie campus when I return?

Absolutely. FFE students are guaranteed on-campus housing upon return to the Poughkeepsie campus.

8. How does the transition to the Poughkeepsie campus in Sophomore Year work? 

Students take part in transfer orientation to renew their acquaintance with Poughkeepsie campus services and many students find the transition very easy indeed. In fact, more students miss their Italian lifestyle more! Strong relationships made as part of the FFE program will carry on when returned from abroad, and FFE students find themselves in a great position to make new friends when they return.

9. What kinds of activities are available at the branch campus?

The Florence branch campus has a variety of clubs and organizations that are available to all students, and there are dozens of organizations operating in Florence for Americans, where you can be involved in everything from politics to gelato tasting. Marist staff also organize a number of activities throughout the year for our students.

10. Is there work study available at the branch campus?

There are a select number of student assistant positions in the branch campus office. Preference is given to students with work study, but not all work study students will find work in the branch campus.

11. I have financial aid and/or scholarship. Will I keep this if I join the FFE?

Yes. Scholarships and loans will travel with you to the Florence branch campus and will remain in effect as they would have for the Poughkeepsie campus.

12. I am an athlete. Can I join the FFE?

Most athletes find traveling abroad early in their career is easier, but if your NCAA division sport demands an immediate training or competition schedule, you should consult your coach/organizer before committing to the FFE.

13. I want to study another foreign language besides Italian. Is the FFE right for me?

Many students who have studied another romance language have found the FFE a good place to expand their language skills, including Spanish majors. If your academic goals allow for some flexibility, studying more than one foreign language is highly desirable.

14. I have never been abroad before. Will I be comfortable in Florence?

Florence is the second most popular study abroad destination in the world for English speaking students (next to London). Thousands of American students call this city home every year - and there are hundreds of services, organizations, and even restaurants designed to cater to their needs and tastes. Florence is a very manageable, walk-able, and beautiful city in which to live. It is incredibly easy to travel to other popular European destinations from Florence as well.

15. What about safety and security?

Florence is a small city, and has a very low crime rate. Obviously, students should always exercise the utmost caution and respect their environment, but the branch campus has enjoyed a very low incident report over the past several years. Each year, there are a small number of thefts and minor incidents, which happens in any city-campus environment. Students are introduced to the Italian police as part of orientation and have access to the Dean of Students office at Istituto Lorenzo de' Medici to assist them with any issues.

16. Do I need a passport?

Yes. If you don't already have one, you should apply immediately at the U.S. passport webpage.

17. Do I need a visa?

Yes. All students need a visa, and Marist will help FFE participants apply for a visa in their jurisdiction (home state). This process should be initiated as soon as possible. Details can be found here, and students will receive complete instructions as part of their orientation to the program.

18. Who else studies at the Marist-LdM campus in Florence?

Besides the FFE, Marist enrolls students in four-year bachelor's degree programs in seven majors, including Studio Art, Art History, and Fashion Design. In addition to that, approximately 60 students from the Poughkeepsie campus study abroad every semester in Florence as sophomores, juniors, or seniors. Marist also enrolls several hundred students each semester as visitors from other institutions to the branch campus. Lastly, Istituto Lorenzo de' Medici directly enrolls students from universities like the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, University of Hawaii-Manoa, and many others. At any given time, there are always fellow undergraduates in Florence from a variety of backgrounds and programs.

19. I don't speak Italian. Can I still join the FFE program? Is it difficult to live in Florence without Italian language skills?

No previous experience with the Italian language is necessary. Florence is an incredibly friendly city, especially for English-speaking students. Students, upon arrival, find it easy to buy supplies, move about the city, arrange trips and travel, all with minimal language skills in Italian. Students will be enrolled in Italian language as part of the program and will find by the end of their second semester they have branched out into new areas of Italy with their new-found language skills - but the experience of hundreds of Marist students who have studied at the branch campus has been one of comfort in this area.

20. How do you select roommates?

Once the FFE class is finalized staff will begin to arrange apartment assignments and roommates according to the housing survey. You will be notified of your roommate when you arrive in Florence.

21. What if I get sick?

The city of Florence is no stranger to students studying abroad. There are medical and pharmaceutical facilities in the city of Florence. If one of our students become ill there are English speaking doctors and pharmacists that are available to them.

22. Who teaches the courses?

The courses taught in Florence are Marist courses and taught by Marist faculty. Many are Florentine; there are international professors and visiting professors from the New York campus as well. Each brings a dynamic and passionate experience to the classroom.

23. Will I have time to travel?

Yes! Florence’s geographic location lends to incredible access to many places not just in Italy but Europe as well. Not to mention the many beautiful places to explore in Tuscany! As an FFE student there are a few planned trips included in your package. You will participate in one big overnight group trip and one day trip. There are also additional trips planned through the school that you may purchase. In the past we have had programs explore Torino, the Swiss Alps, Croatia, Pompeii, Naples, the south of France and many others.

24. Will there be RD’s and RA’s?

Yes! In addition to a Director and Assistant Director of Marist LdM, we will have Resident Directors and Assistants in the residence halls. The RD’s and RA’s are there to program events for you and assist with your transition.

25. What is the campus like?

The Marist campus in Florence is very unique. Florence is an historic city along the Arno River. There are beautiful medieval and renaissance buildings throughout the quaint city. The campus housing and academic buildings are settled among the many shops, cafés, and residences that make up the capital city of Tuscany.

26. Can my family visit?

Of course! Family members are welcome to visit, there are many beautiful hotels to stay in close to the Marist campus. After a few weeks in Florence you will become an expert guide.

27. Is there a meal plan?

There is a small café in one of the main campus buildings where students can choose to be on a lunch plan. The apartments are equipped with kitchens for students to prepare their other meals and there are ample cafés and pasticcerie (bakeries) for the students to purchase food. Part of orientation you are taught how to bargain in the Mercato Centrale (Central Market) and how to cook by an Italian chef.

28. How many freshmen participate in the FFE?

Each year is different. This year we expect approximately 30 students to participate in the FFE. This does not include the hundreds that will be studying abroad at our campus.

29. Will I be able to study abroad other semesters?

Depending on your major it is possible to study abroad at different times during your academic career with Marist. It is common that once students participate in a program like the FFE they are bit by the “travel bug”. Strategic planning with your academic advisor can allow you to study abroad during other semesters or participate in our short term programs.

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