Buongiorno! I’m Ana, I’ve just started my third year abroad at the University of Bologna, in Italy.
Moving and getting everything sorted has been hectic, especially when dealing with Italian administration, but I’m finally settled in! I was really lucky to get a nice flat, just 10 minutes from the centre, with a landlord who speaks English and two really cool Norwegian students as flatmates. Probably the most important piece of advice to any student here is to look for accommodation during the summer, as there’s a shortage in the city, and there are some students who didn’t find a place until October!
The University dominates Bologna. Like King’s, the university is spread across the city, but unlike London, Bologna is so small it makes the entire centre feel like a campus! This atmosphere may be why Bologna has a lot of international students, and a very supportive community to go with it. This is great for making friends, as there’s a couple of Erasmus organisations which run regular club nights, trips around Italy, and other activities. It is easy, however, to end up in an English speaking international bubble, so my aim for the next few weeks is to meet some local students and try to improve my Italian, while soaking up some local culture beyond pizza and pasta!
Another great aspect of Bologna is its history. Many of the buildings are built in the medieval style, with porticos lining most streets, and every building traditionally being painted a variation of red, orange or yellow.
It’s not only the city that’s historic though, the university prides itself on being the first university in the west! You can see this history in the instagram-worthy old buildings where classes are held, though they surprisingly don’t seem to be very well maintained, and there’s graffiti on every wall. The city seems to have embraced the graffiti actually, with murals inside even the library. Who knows, perhaps in a few hundred years, it be seen in the same way as the frescos which can be found in some of the study rooms!
So far, the most difficult part of this whole experience has been adjusting to the different way things are organised! Having to calculate credits and organise my timetable was new, but what really threw me was the tendency for Italian administrative offices to open officially only for a few hours each day. This led to the excellent friend-making opportunity that was waiting three hours to enrol when I arrived.
Now that classes have properly started, I’m really enjoying the opportunity for a new perspective on law. Taking English-language classes means that my modules are all very international and comparative, and the discussions are really fascinating, as they are collaborations of such a diverse mix of people.
I would say that’s the best part about studying abroad; the people you meet, and hearing about their life experiences, which are often so different from your own.
Feel to ask me any questions!