If you are about to do your Erasmus exchange in Bologna you are probably wondering “What makes Bologna so great? What is there to do?”-I’m going to tell you what: it’s only the best place in the world to do you’re Erasmus! It is a place that combines art and food, and culture with fun, entertainment and endless opportunities for social interactions.
As a new student coming to the city here are some of the most important things to know:
Bologna is all about being international and having fun no matter what:
- Explore the various Erasmus student organizations that the university has to offer. The people who will help you blend in and will help you with learning Italian are there. Those organizations (always held by students) provide events, excursions, language tandems and all sorts of events that will help you understand the Italian culture and way of life. They are an awesome way to meet new friends, explore all the cool places and enjoy delicious food. My advice is to find them all on Facebook so that you can stay tuned for all the cool events during the year:
ESN bologna: http://www.esnbologna.org/
- Best clubs to go to:
As a university city, Bologna offers many different alternatives when it comes to clubs. Generally most of them offer commercial house music but on certain days of the week you can find themed parties where other genres are played; Here are the top 5 places in the city center that you must be familiar with:
With its student parties every Thursday, Millennium is a great place if you wanna blow off some steam after the lectures. To enter you must buy an Arci card that costs 10 euro and once you attain it you don’t need to pay entrance anymore. The club has 2 rooms: one with commercial house and the other with rock music.
- Soda Pops
The one and only Soda pops is the only club in Bologna that never closes. It is opened almost every night so when in doubt you can always count on it to be there (apart from the summer, everything is god damn closed in the summer..). It is rather small but somehow there is always place for everyone inside. On the Erasmus evenings you can get drinks on discount with your Erasmus cards. The entry is always free, you just need to show some kind of a student card.
- Chalet- Giardini Margherita
Lo Chalet is the disco that is located in one of the biggest parks in the center of Bologna. It opens only in the summer and it is a great place to stay cool and fresh in the hot Bologna nights.
- La Arteria
La Arteria in a cool underground club with 2 rooms where they play commercial house in one and rock in the other. It is a bit of a shady place but its location is convenient and it’s opened most days of the week. Entry is free.
- La Scuderia
La Scuderia is located right on Piazza Verdi, the gathering point of all students and the center of the university life. You get a free entry with your Erasmus cards so I guess its not that bad of a deal. During the day it’s a pub with tables out in the square where students tend to hang out after lectures.
It goes without saying that before a whole night of dancing you need some fuel. The list of places for pre-drinks in Bologna is literally endless. There is something for every taste and budget. Here are some of my favorite places:
Empire foreveeer! That is one of my favorite places- it’s a classical pub that serves even decent beer. Once a week Erasmus land organizes language tandems there as well as karaoke nights that are super fun. It’s always full of fun people and the fun is guaranteed.
Maxim is a very cool bar located right next to the two towers in the city center and it’s a great place if you’re in the mood for some refreshing cocktails. The prices are decent and the cocktails are rather nice. On the weekends there is always a DJ mixing up some cool hits that put you right in the mood for party.
The Doc is my second favorite place for some cool cocktails. It’s located right on Via Zamboni and it’s close to everything.
- Camera a Sud
The camera a sud is just a small neat bar, perfect for having a chat and drinking an aperol spritz just for 4 euro. Me and my girlfriends used to go there all the time when we were looking for a quiet night out.
- Caffe Zamboni
Caffe Zamboni as the name suggests is located in via Zamboni right next to the two towers. It is a great do grab an aperitivo. The food is always fresh and the cocktail are also nice.
Doing an Erasmus in Italy seem all neat and lovely, but let’s be honest, without knowing Italian getting around is not easy. Even though Bologna is a rather international city and most people speak English, you might find yourself in difficulty when looking for a flat, for example, or when opening a bank account or even when going to the doctor if you need to.
One thing that I would recommend is for you to count on your own knowledge and to try to learn some essential things on your own time. Apart from that the University of Bologna offers a language course in Italian worth 5 credits that is suited for all levels. The only trick is that you must enroll on time otherwise they will not accept your application. Here is a link to the website in English:
So to sum it up for you, because it is not always clear how the system works: there are 2 types of courses, an intensive and an extended one and in order to sign up you need to do an online test that determines your level. You CAN NOT enroll without doing the online test, trust me I’ve tried. On the website you can see the dates that you can sign up, which is basically a window of one week time (for the year 2016/2017 – intensive course sign up from 22/08/2016 to 12.00 pm 31/08/2016; and for the extended course-from 12.00 pm 22/08/2016 to 12.00 pm11/09/2016). Second you must do an oral test which is determined after you finish the online test (the test is not always mandatory, if you happen to be at home while you’re applying and you can’t make it to the exam you just have to email the department and explain the situation. They are rather flexible when it comes to this.). Once you’ve been approved you can choose what time you can do the course according to your availability.
The course is available the first and the second semester and it’s completely free.
And there you go! Now you’re ready to face your Erasmus exchange in Bologna!