Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Housing and health insurance

Casa dolce casa

Anxious about finding a room in an unfamiliar country? Luckily, Salvatore La Ferlita is here to save the day.

As most incoming SAIS Bologna students know, Salvatore is the housing consultant who has helped students -- including Nelson Graves -- find accommodation in Bologna for more than three decades. As pre-term approaches, we are receiving more and more questions on accommodation. We'd like to set your minds to rest and reassure you that it will indeed be easy for you.

You can do better than this!
Salvatore will be available to show apartments starting on August 18. Students interested in using his services can sign up for an appointment from the afternoon of the 17th. Raffaella Besola at the reception will direct you to Salvatore's temporary office where you'll find a sign-up sheet. There are normally two tours each day: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. If there is adequate demand, Salvatore will also consider showing apartments on Saturday, August 20.

When you turn up for your appointment, Salvatore will ask you a few questions on your housing preferences: the type of flat you are looking for, the maximum distance from the Center, the number of bedrooms, the price range. Then you will hop on the mini-bus and start the tour. Once you find an apartment you are comfortable with, you will be asked to secure the room by paying the first month's rent and a security deposit of two months' rent. The security deposit is returned at the end of the year provided there is no unusual damage or outstanding bills. If there is, the costs are taken out of the deposit.

As for roommates, if you do not have someone in mind before arriving, you can hook up with other students who are looking just as you are.

In case you find a flat and later realize that you are not happy with it, Salvatore will help you find another suitable apartment.

After you have paid the deposit, Salvatore will hand over the keys to the apartment -- the end of your housing search. In Italy they say: "E' come bere un bicchiere d'acqua." ("It's as easy as drinking a glass of water".)

La salute prima di tutto! 

This is a common phrase in Italian: "Your health comes first." Health insurance should be a priority for you -- during your year in Italy and afterwards.

If you are a citizen of a European Union member state, you do not need to buy health insurance before coming to Bologna. However, you will need to get a European Health Insurance Card. Such a card, which you can obtain from the authorities in your home town, will give you the same access to medical assistance as Italians.

If you are not a citizen of an EU member state, you will need health insurance coverage.

If you were admitted through the SAIS DC Admissions Office, you are automatically signed up for a health plan administered by Aetna. If you already have adequate insurance, you can waive the Aetna insurance, but you will have to prove that you have equivalent coverage. For more information on how to waive out of the Aetna plan, please contact saisbilling@jhu.edu. Please note that this applies only if you were admitted through SAIS Washington.

Non-E.U. students who were admitted through SAIS Bologna are expected to arrive in Italy with health insurance. You need not to worry about waiving out of the Aetna insurance because you are not signed up for it. You will need to have a health plan that will provide you with adequate assistance in case you need it. What is adequate? It can depend on your personal circumstances. Please consult with family members if in doubt.

We urge all non-E.U. students, including U.S. citizens, to subscribe to the Italian emergency insurance which will cover you in case of emergency hospitalization.

If you have any questions, you know where to find us!

Please remember, keep the Guidebook for Incoming Students close at hand for answers to questions you might have.

Amina Abdiuahab 

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