The University of Oklahoma in Arezzo (OUA) Study Center offers students of all backgrounds and interests the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live and study abroad in Italy while earning OU degree credit. Located in the vibrant Tuscan city of Arezzo, OUA provides the best of both worlds: a home-away-from-home with OU classmates, faculty and staff, and the chance to immerse yourself in a new culture.
Planning to spend a summer, semester or academic year studying in Italy? Learn more below about life as an OUA student, including background on the city itself, housing and facilities, and activities.
OU's Italian study center is located in Arezzo (pop. 100,000), one of the largest cities in the central Italian region of Tuscany. Arezzo is conveniently situated about an hour from Florence and just over three hours from Rome by train, but it is not heavily traveled by tourists.
Arezzo is a welcoming destination for study abroad students looking for the amenities of a city and the warmth of a small town. OUA facilities are located in Arezzo's picturesque medieval city center, which is defined by its famous central square, Piazza Grande. A city of winding cobblestone streets, bustling piazzas, peaceful parks and historic churches, nestled amid Tuscany's rolling hills and vineyards, Arezzo is a lively, safe and beautiful place to study.
Arezzo is a city with a long history. It is thought to have been one of Italy's most important Etruscan cities before being conquered by the Romans all the way back in 311 BC. Evidence of the various cultures that have called Arezzo home (from the Etruscans to the Romans and on into the Christian period) is everywhere. The city's Archaeological Museum is a fascinating treasure trove of Etruscan and Roman artifacts, and it stands next to the ruins of a Roman amphitheater once used for gladiator games.
Arezzo's "old city" – the area OUA calls home – flourished during the medieval period, and the medieval city streets and architecture that remain today give Arezzo a remarkable character and picturesque charm. Piazza Grande, many of the city's churches and its famous Medici Fortress (now a sculpture gallery), were all built during this period.
Arezzo is a city steeped in art, music and literature – there always seems to be an interesting concert, exhibition or festival to attend. The city earned its reputation through the work of such illustrious citizens as the artist Piero della Francesca, art historian and scholar Giorgio Vasari, poet Francesco Petrarca (known as Petrarch) and Guido d’Arezzo, inventor of modern musical notation.
San Francesco Basilica (ca. 1300), which houses a series of Piero della Francesca's Renaissance-era frescoes, is the city's most popular tourist attraction and brings art lovers from all over the world. Arezzo's most famous non-artistic attractions include its beautiful hilltop cathedral, or duomo, and the large monthly antiques market, held in Piazza Grande.
Italians are known for their love of food, drink and community, and Arezzo is no exception. In the neighborhood surrounding OUA you'll find an abundance of cafes, restaurants and gelato shops, the majority of which are family-run, reasonably priced and delicious. The cafe-lined Piazza San Francesco, where OU in Arezzo's classroom facility is located, is one of the city's liveliest gathering spots.
Arezzo is also a center of industry, and students have the opportunity to learn about and intern with companies of all kinds. The city is a major producer of wine and olive oil, a fact OUA students learn firsthand through visits to La Striscia, a vineyard and restaurant on the city's outskirts. Other prominent industries in Arezzo include fashion and gold and silver manufacturing.
Arezzo has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country (3 percent) and boasts a strong entrepreneurial streak – there is one company for every 10 inhabitants. The business community has strong foreign ties, as evidenced by the fact that the province of Arezzo (population 325,000) is the third largest exporter of products in Italy. Arezzo’s commitment to commerce makes it the perfect venue for OU students interested in international business.
The OU in Arezzo study center is comprised of two facilities: the Kathleen and Francis Rooney Family Residential Learning Center and the San Francesco Classroom Annex. The Rooney Family Center is the central student residence and is also home to classrooms, study and lounge areas, a cafeteria, a chapel, kitchen facilities, an information desk, offices and more. The San Francesco Classroom Annex, located a short walk from the Rooney Family Center, houses classrooms, offices and a computer lab for student use. While most students reside in the Rooney Family Center, housing will vary depending on the type of program, arranged by the OUA staff and program leaders.
The Rooney Family Center (RFC), a beautifully renovated former monastery in Arezzo's historic center, is the epicenter of all OU in Arezzo activities and provides a safe, family-like atmosphere designed to support students during their experience abroad. Even students who do not reside in the center – those on home stays or in short-term summer accommodations – have access to the center for classes, studying, socializing, laundry and other needs.
The RFC features 25 student bedrooms, a two-bedroom faculty-in-residence apartment, a fully-equipped kitchen and dining hall, classrooms and much more.
The common areas of the Rooney Family Center provide OUA students with formal and informal spaces to study together, relax and socialize, and OUA events are also held here. These common areas are accessible to all OUA students: those who reside at the Center as well as those in homestays or other housing.
There are 8 single bedrooms, 9 double bedrooms and 7 triple bedrooms in the residential facility.
History of the Rooney Family Center
The history of the 32,000-square-foot Kathleen and Francis Rooney Family Residential Learning Center is closely linked to the history of the city of Arezzo, and the building has been an important part of the city's architecture for over 800 years. The RFC began its history as a collection of simple 13th-century homes that led to Arezzo's cathedral, or duomo. This road (the "sacred way," so-called because of its connectivity to the cathedral) developed into a thriving community of urban monastic complexes during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
In the 17th century, these simple homes were combined to form a palace owned by the noble Monauto-Barbolani family. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the building passed to the Marquis Guelfi-Camaiano, whose family decorated the main floor of the palace with the beautiful wall paintings we see today. Finally in 1892, the palace became the Monastery of the Clarisse, or Poor Saint Clares, until it was sold by the church in 2007, was fully renovated and modernized, and became the home base of OU in Arezzo.
The Presidential International Travel Fellowship or "PITF" is a scholarship created to support international travel for study abroad for awards up to $2,000. Student awards will be given on a competitive basis to qualified students who demonstrate a high level of financial need.
The David L. Boren College of International Studies offers many scholarships for IAS students, international students and study abroad students.
The OU in Arezzo Student Internship Program provides students with a unique opportunity to enhance their cultural competency, learn about their professional field in Italy, and develop their ability to apply academic knowledge in a real world setting.
Throughout the semester, members of the OU in Arezzo Student Activities Council (SAC) plan and execute a wide variety of fun, memorable events for OUA and the wider Arezzo community. Through programing, advocacy and service, the members of SAC refine the experience of the OUA community.
The structure of SAC consists of an Executive Council with a President, two Vice Presidents, a Secretary, and designated chairs over each of our four committees. average, the majority of the OUA students are general members of the body, In addition to holding executive positions on the Executive Council. The body holds a meeting once a week and plans, on average, two to three events a month.
Every general member of SAC is a member of one of the four SAC committees:
This committee is responsible for general programming for OUA students and provides students with opportunities to maximize their study abroad experience. The programming committee generally organizes events that are of an entertaining nature and serve to encourage creativity and comradeship in the community.
Community Service and Outreach Committee
This committee is responsible for planning and executing events involving the greater Arezzo community, including community service. The committee works in conjunction with OUA staff to build and maintain a mutually beneficial relationship between the OUA program and the city of Arezzo. Members of this committee plan the annual OUA Big Event, visits to homes for the elderly, nature clean-ups and 5K runs to benefit local nonprofits.
Diversity and Inclusion Committee
This committee is responsible for planning and executing events that promote values and practices of a diverse and inclusive community. They also provide the community with tools and knowledge for creating an inclusive environment at OUA. This committee creates events that involve OUA students, faculty, staff and the wider community of Arezzo.
Development and Communications Committee
This committee is responsible for the organizational development of SAC and for promoting SAC activities to both the general OUA student body and the greater Arezzo community. They advocate on behalf of the OUA students, publicize events and develop strategies for improving SAC and the OUA program.
SAC events from the past semesters include OUA's Got Talent, a Valentine's Day party, Halloweek, Easter Egg Hunt, Scavenger Hunt, 5K Fun Run (a community event benefitting local nonprofits), International Festival, The Big Event and numerous community service projects, football watch parties, Milkshake Mondays, Salsa Sundays, and a wide variety of other activities and celebrations.
Each June and September, Arezzo celebrates its medieval heritage with its biggest event: the Giostra del Saracino, or Arezzo Joust, in which citizens gather in medieval costume to watch knights joust on horseback. Fall OUA students get to experience the tradition, as do summer students in participating June programs. For more on this unique event check out the video below, created by Gaylord College students who attended in Summer 2017.
Summer programs are based in Arezzo but feature group travel throughout Italy. Course offerings vary, as these programs are sponsored by colleges and designed by faculty. Browse our Faculty-Led options for the upcoming summer and attend a drop-in advising session to get started.
Students are provided with an introduction to Italian language and culture while taking a variety of OU courses in English. Prior knowledge of Italian is not required, though all OUA students will enroll in an Italian language course. Our curriculum takes advantage of the riches Italy has to offer, and students study art, history and industry up close by touring museums, churches, businesses and historical sites.
Enrolling at OU in Arezzo for a semester or full year is beneficial in many ways. Students who choose a semester or year program will:
Students enrolled for a semester or year at OUA will live in the Kathleen and Francis Rooney Family Residential Learning Center in the heart of Arezzo's old city, or you can request a homestay with an Italian host family. To make an appointment with the OUA Advisor, Lissi Ureta, log in to iadvise.ou.edu/studyabroad.
OU in Arezzo
Piazza San Francesco, 18
Arezzo, Italy 52100
Office phone: +39-0575-197-0209
Hours: Monday-Friday 9:00AM - 5:00 PM
Learn more about the student experience, the people of Arezzo, and all OUA has to offer on the OU in Arezzo Blog!
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