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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