Ritika: Activities and Clubs in Bologna

I’ve officially been in Bologna for around 3 months now and have met so many incredible people from all around the world.  Everyone is really friendly in Erasmus (the European exchange programme) and there are so many different events where you can meet lots of people.

In Bologna we have two big student organisations for Erasmus students

  1. ESN Bologna – Erasmus student network
  2. Erasmusland

I decided to sign up to both of them this semester because they both organise different tours and parties during the semester. You have to sign up to be a member and pay a membership fee of 10 Euros.

I would also recommend signing up to one of the trips they organise. At the start of October, I went on a 4-day trip with ESN around Naples, Sorrento, Positano, Capri and Pompei. They are well planned, affordable and a great way to meet new people.

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A photo of the ESN group in Capri
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My friends and I in Naples

There are weekly events that happen here in Bologna. One of my favourites is the weekly language tandem event.

It is pretty much an event that encourages you to speak different languages and meet people from different countries. It is also a great way to make friends who can teach you a new language e.g. Italian.

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Wednesday nights at Tandem

One of the best things I have done on this trip has been renting out a caravan with 2 of my  friends and road tripping from Venice to Croatia to Slovenia and also stopping over in Austria for a few hours. One of the reasons I chose Europe is because it’s so easy to travel around as everything is so close.

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Dylan (NZ), Marcos (Spain) and me in Venice. The first stop on our road trip!
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Our home for our 4 day road trip

If your classes are taught in English there is a high chance there are other international students in your class. One of my current papers is a general education paper called Introduction to Italian Culture and is filled with about 400 Erasmus students.

I have absolutely loved my exchange so far and its definitely because of all the amazing people I’ve met. If you want to learn about new cultures and meet people from all over the world an exchange is probably the best way to do this!

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My Russian friends cooked us a traditional Russian dinner with amazing food!

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At the Fiorentina vs. Bologna football match

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Ritika: Accomodation in Bologna

Ciao!

Welcome back to my second blog post. I wanted to write about finding accommodation here in Bologna as I know it can be a stressful process.

The city of Bologna is split in two in terms of housing; houses inside the walls of the city and houses outside the walls. As you can guess houses within the walls are more expensive but also more convenient and closer to the university.

I live in the Residence San Vitale in an apartment with 4 other girls who are from all around the world (Ukraine, Korea, Italy, and Iran).

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A lot of people come to Bologna slightly earlier to find accommodation, but I decided to book it online before arriving in Bologna. I found out about this residency through this website: https://www.saisaccommodation.it/en-us/sais.aspx?idC=61642&LN=en-US

I live in a shared room with my room mate Tanya who is from Ukraine. It is quite difficult to get a single room as they are mostly occupied by Italian students who live here throughout the year.

A downside to this residency is that is it quite far away from the main city centre as it is outside the walls (about 25 minutes by the 14C bus). There is also a train station close by, but trains and buses aren’t as frequent during the night which makes it slightly difficult.

Tip: Make sure you get your TPER transport card after you check into the University. You pay 10 Euros and can use the most of the buses and trains as much as you want for the whole semester.

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Another option is to buy a bicycle or rent a Mobike through the app (the European version of OVO)

There are a lot of supermarkets in this area (tip: shop at Lidl it’s a lot cheaper!!) and we live right next to a sports centre that has a gym and swimming pool.

It is best to start looking for accommodation as early as possible. There are a lot of facebook groups where people list apartments to rent: https://www.facebook.com/groups/174001200083547/

You could also look for apartments on Airbnb and there are a few services including SAIS accommodation that help international students find apartments to rent.

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Ritika: First Impressions of Bologna

Pre-departure:

Like a lot of other universities, it takes you a very long time to get an acceptance letter from the University of Bologna. I received my acceptance letter at the start of June which meant my exchange was finally official and I could apply for my visa.

I would highly recommend starting the visa process as soon as possible as it can take up to a month (fortunately I received mine in a week!) and as they require a lot of documents including all your flight tickets before you arrive in Italy, insurance, and proof of accommodation.

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Arriving in Bologna:

After a month of travelling around Europe I finally landed in Bologna on the 3rd of September ready to begin my study abroad experience. I was extremely nervous to say the least. I had never been to Italy before and could barely understand the language.

I moved into my accommodation the next day. Luckily the two other Kiwis moved in to the same residency on the same day!! (we had never even planned this it just seemed to all work out perfectly!)

I arrived in Bologna two weeks before my classes started so I had enough time to settle in and explore the city.

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The city itself is beautiful and extremely hot when I arrived (it was about 33 degrees every day). All the buildings are different shades of red, orange and yellow and has many different alleys to explore, the quintessential European city for you get lost in its streets! We even have a leaning tower in Bologna that leans more than the famous leaning tower of Pisa!

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An important thing to remember is that it does take time to adjust, you can’t just expect to be settled in in a few days. It was the first time I had been on an exchange this long and the idea of being in a country where I knew no one and didn’t speak the language scared me, but trust me you will eventually adjust and love it!

Campus:

The University of Bologna is the oldest university in the Western world and extremely large (there are about 85,000 students this year!). The city itself is covered in university buildings. As I am studying commerce all my classes are found in the economics building and it is super close to the other faculties, restaurants and shops.

The past one and a half months have been overwhelming but really exciting. I’m really loving my time here in Bologna so far.

Thanks for reading! Look out for my next post where I’ll tell you all about finding accommodation in Bologna.

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Italy

Ciao Bella!

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What else can we say? Italy, you beauty!

The University of Auckland students have the opportunity to study at one of our two partners in Italy: Bocconi University and the University of Bologna. Both options allow you to explore the cultural history, scenery and incredible food of this beautiful country.

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Lets hear what our students have to say!

On travel:

“Being in Europe meant being only a short plane flight from so many iconic cities. This allowed me to do so much more travel and explore some amazing places with groups of great friends, thus making for some pretty memorable experiences.” –  Alastair Merrett, University of Bologna

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“Whilst on exchange I travelled a lot. I was able to see many beautiful cities & countries all with history and beauty I cannot easily describe. I was able to try many delicious new foods and I’m able to say I have more of an international family. I learned a new language and was able to immerse myself in a completely different culture. It is from these experiences where you learn the most, not only just about the world and how large it really is; but also about yourself. It is largely a personal experience for the lessons you learn and for the way it facilitates personal growth.” – James Merrett, University of Bologna

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“One of the best things about being in Europe is that travel is so easy, and I took full advantage of this; I would be out nearly every weekend, either by train or car to an adjoining Italian city (trying to tick off all the UNESCO World Heritage Sites!), or a low cost flight to Budapest, Copenhagen, Crete or Krakow! Sometimes this was with an organised trip by international student organisations, or with some international friends, or with Italians to their hometowns. This is something I would advise: to make some really good friends from the country you go to, I now have a number of Italian friends for the rest of my life!”- Clara Autet, University of Bologna

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On orientation:

“When I arrived in the host university I was rather relaxed, the University was really good at organizing events for people to meet. I made a big group of friends really fast and apart for a few discrepancies on the academic side, the host university did a great job.” – Lucas de Gaulejac, Bocconi University

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“My exchange at the University of Bologna in Italy was one of the best experiences of my life! I seriously had a great time, and it’s difficult to say what the best thing about Italy was: the people, the food, the history and buildings, the culture, the music, the hospitality, on it goes!Bologna is a real student city (everyone rides a bike), located in the heart of Italy, capital of food, and home to the oldest university in the western world, founded in 1088! Both the university and the department held individual orientation days, and were very helpful, as it was sometimes tricky juggling the different ways universities are run in NZ and Italy. Knowing a bit of Italian prior to my arrival was a definite bonus, and helped me integrate into studies and social life quickly, but many others did very well on English alone, with many courses being available in English, so don’t let that stop you!” – Clara Autet, University of Bologna

“I was lucky enough to spend 6 months at the University of Bologna, Italy, and couldn’t be happier to have chosen such an amazing place. I immediately fell in love with Bologna; it is such a beautiful unique, historic, cultural and vibrant city and happens to be the food capital of Italy. In Bologna there were a few Student associations that I got involved in. They organise parties each week, plan amazing weekend trips, and organise various events. So I was constantly busy socialising and doing things, whilst also juggling study. One stand out trip with them was when 100 of us from Bologna went to Budapest for a weekend!” –  Alastair Merrett, University of Bologna

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On accommodation:

“In terms of accommodation, as an exchange student you will have two options with both their own pros and cons. The first option is to stay in one of the university residences, most exchange students will be put into Arcobaleno residence. This is a great way to make friends with other exchange students but is a 25 – 35 minute tram to Bocconi or any other part of the city. The second option is to find an apartment which will most likely be cheaper and will not be subject to some of the rules that the residences have about having guests over. Whether or not you find a place before you leave for Milan is not a big deal, there are around 800 exchange students each semester meaning there will be many others that are looking either looking for a flat or looking for flatmates. The most popular places to live are the areas near Navigli and Porta Ticinese as they are close to the restaurants on the Navigli canals and are walking distance from the university.”  – Romaan Parker-Iida, Bocconi University

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“In regards to accommodation I found that arriving a bit earlier was a stroke of luck, just as any other big city all the student flats go on the market right after exam time, and get fully booked one to two weeks before the start of class. Because I came a bit earlier I managed to easily find (within 36 hours) a very affordable and comfortable apartment with a straight line to the university and city center.” – Lucas de Gaulejac, Bocconi University

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“I had signed up for the university accommodation thinking that I would definitely get a room but by the time I signed up it was too late, so I missed out on the dorm rooms. I then had to fly to Milan earlier than expected just to find a place to stay since most of the apartments online were fake.The cost of living was a bit higher than in Auckland but almost the same.” – Stephanie Jones, Bocconi University

On the lifestyle:

“Advice giving anyone wanting to do an exchange to Milan is to study hard during the week and go on an adventure every weekend to try something completely new. Italy and the rest of Europe is full of culture and whether it is taking a night off study to go see a football game, getting dressed up for Milan fashion week or heading over to the Venice film festival to sip wine with Hollywood celebrities, the memories and friends you make will last you a lifetime” –  Romaan Parker-Iida, Bocconi University

merrett-alastiar_university-of-bologna-1155-6On food:

“During the week, there was always something happening, a gig, a get-together, or the classic ‘aperitivo’ in one of the dozens of bars and pubs within the old city walls. Some of the close friends I made came from Portugal, Scotland, Chile, Russia, Mexico, and France and of course Italy! I even managed to get invited for some family lunches, where the Italian mums and grandmothers would cook a feast of beautiful typical food! Can’t get more authentic than that! BUONISSIMO!” – Clara Autet, University of Bologna

merrett-alastiar_university-of-bologna-1155-12“If your first thought of Italy is amazing pizza and beautiful architecture, you are absolutely correct!” –  Romaan Parker-Iida, Bocconi University

“I immediately fell in love with Bologna; it is such a beautiful unique, historic, cultural and vibrant city and happens to be the food capital of Italy.” – Alastair Merrett, University of Bologna

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Top tips:

  • Credit must be given to the ERASMUS programme for organizing events and giving students discounts
  • Make sure you brush up on your basic Italian, some Italians are very reluctant to speak English!
  • Despite Milan being a great city to live in, there are a few things that you should watch out for: bureaucracy (be patient),  pickpockets, walking late at night for example
  • Yes, it’s an opportunity to learn new things from different professors at a different university; but it’s also so much more than that
  • Enjoy “la dolce vita”!
  • Thinking back I honestly couldn’t choose a highlight, I feel that every moment and every second of my exchange was a highlight