This is the intro to my blog, because I can’t just begin telling you what to do when you go to Bologna. I say Bologna because I assume that you made the right choice and picked Bologna (such an awesome city). Unless it has been removed as a choice and Rome is added instead, even though the rent is very high there, it’s still a very nice place…what, I’m getting ahead of myself.
My name is Maya, I’m 21, from Sofia, Bulgaria, very sportive, not too good with social interactions, but living abroad in the first place has given me a lot of confidence in working my way through life.
I will be doing an Erasmus study exchange in Bologna, Italy, this year as part of my degree and here, in this blog, I will be sharing my experiences and give you, hopefully, useful tips.
But first, a few words from our sponsor: University of Glasgow: … Ok, look, I have been anticipating studying in Italy ever since high school. I didn’t go to university in Italy because my knowledge of the language at the time was too poor for me to even buy some food at the store. Having graduated from an English language high school going along with my English was the more logical thing to do. Glasgow Uni provided me with an option for a degree that fit me perfectly (Business and Management & Italian) and when I saw that I can spend a whole year abroad as a part of my education I got on board right away. Yes, I know that 5 years is a long time for a degree but, bear with me here, I’ll talk about this in another blog…Aaand having chosen this degree I focused all my energy on preparing myself for that year abroad (don’t freak out, I mean emotional preparation!). I feel like I should mention this because some of you could be struggling with making that decision and that’s ok. Getting ready for an exchange abroad can be a tough process. Preparation is not just a matter of filling out documents-it’s also an emotional process that requires particular attention. Maybe I can help you resolve your doubts (when I show you how firkin awesome it is)!
What to expect:
What I will do for you-the reader, during this year is to provide practical and useful information about how to manage things while studying abroad and occasionally I’ll try to include more personal stuff and short stories from which you can draw your own moral conclusions.
This is the plan for now, and it’s always important to have a plan!
I will be sharing my wisdom ( or shoving my opinion in your face, see it as you want)collected over the years, and try to answer some of the questions related with living, studying and preparing yourself to live in Italy. I’ll post a blog every month but I’ll upload videos and pictures more frequently (I hope). I’ll leave all my contacts below every blog, if you’re ever in need to ask me something or get in touch.
So please read on, and feel free to leave your reviews. Don’t take my obnoxious tone too seriously and enjoy the colorful pictures, I’ll make sure to put some more of those!
OH, and bear with my English please, surely I’ll be making mistakes. Feel free to correct me, but don’t get to feisty about it.
Here are some words on preparation before leaving for your year abroad: The important thing to remember is: always ask questions to your teachers or supervisors (especially Dr.Eanna) if you’re having trouble with documentation. I apologize for the general statement but the documents change all the time and I don’t know if there is any point for me to try to explain how I did mine…plus I don’t even remember anymore.
All I can say is:
- Don’t worry too much about the Erasmus application. If you’re really struggling, during the application period there will be one-on-one appointments in Frazer Building where all your questions will be answered (regarding the application process, of course)!
- There was hardly any information on the Internet about Erasmus motivation letters especially for study exchange so if you can’t work something out I have uploaded mine. Don’t laugh! It’s just to give you an idea what to include. If you have any particular choice for a university, like me, make sure to explicitly mention so. Erasmus letter of motivation
- Next stop: learning agreement. Ahh the pain…but keep calm. The Erasmus moodle group will provide all the answers, check it regularly for updates and you should be fain.
- Ahh and last but not least be very VERY patient because sometimes getting signatures and conformation about your documentation can be slow. Just don’t freak out, it’s all gonna be fain!
It’s kind of obvious, but I am going to say it any way…When you choose your new subjects at the host university, when the program for the new academic year comes out (late July for Italian universities) check what you’ll be studying the first semester, read a book or two in advance, it won’t hurt your brain, you don’t do anything with yourself during the summer anyway (and I mean that intellectually, don’t even dare getting offended because you know it’s true!).
Paperwork is important, of course, but I’m sure you’ll figure it out, if I can do it so can you. Let’s focus on the fact that you will be diving into an entirely different culture from what you see and what, by this time, you’re used to in Glasgow, both academically and socially. Cultural shock is a real thing, especially if you’ve never been to Italy or you haven’t been abroad by yourself. What you can do to help yourself is to use your time in Glasgow wisely. Find the exchange students from Bologna or from wherever you want to go, or just find a random Italian like I did, and talk and talk and talk. Find that guardian angel that will tell you all the harsh truths. I’m not a local, I can’t give you all the answers, but: spending an Erasmus year in Italy is not a vacation: the pasta, the pizza and the gorgeous men and women are only half of the time… in the other half you’ll have cold winters, oral exams in the end of each semester (a seemingly established practice), a very overcomplicated bureaucracy, and if you dare take any of the more artistic subjects (like me :D) be prepared to get your ass wiped because they take that sh*it very seriously.
Get out there and start talking to Italians (preferably in Italian). You’ll find plenty if those in Glasgow. They will tell you everything you need to know before you leave and they’ll do it with pleasure.
Try to get to know their music, their culture of eating, their traditions and celebrations, educate yourself on a bit of history. This will help you to fit in immensely and it will enhance your knowledge for the language itself.
I feel like I have to talk about and mention a lot of things (which is good). Hopefully I’ll have enough material to keep you entertained and informed during this year. I realize that most of the things I’ll be taking about will be relevant to the five people that will be going to Bologna next year, but hey, if I help even one of those five people I’ll be happy with myself. It will still be more than what the students before me did, whoever they may be…
In summary: How to prepare for your year abroad:
1.Get involved with students from the specific country you wish to study in.
2.Even if you have doubts, go along with the application process- you can always change your mind later.
3.Try to experience the culture of the country you’re going to beforehand, to know that to expect.
4.Don’t worry too much about not knowing the language. You learn quickly once you’re there.
5.Rest assured that whatever doubts you have, Google has all the answers.
6.Use your time to get as many opinions on where to do your studying or work placement abroad. The Bulgarian way is to always ask parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, all the relatives that you can think of and their friends. Help can come from unusual and unexpected places.
7.Never say no to an opportunity to learn something new, especially if it’s a new language, but
8.Know your priorities. If you can’t decide between Italian and another language or whether to do a language year abroad in the first place, make sure to keep things simple and to follow your heart. In the end the most important thing is to be happy.
For now I wish you, in bocca al lupo!