A Student Guide to Paris

I moved to Glasgow for university without ever having been there before and in order to arrive as prepared as I could, I spent hours on Google Maps street view to the point that on my first day there I already knew my way around and recognised many places. If you’re about to go on your exchange to Paris and you’ve never been before you could either do the obsessive things I did (warning: it requires a considerable lack of social life) or you can keep on reading this and learn a thing or two that will hopefully help you make the City of Lights your home.

Getting Around

Forget the completely useless Glasgow subway or the perennially no-show buses! The Paris transport system is surprisingly efficient and extremely easy to use. Being a student you get a special and considerably discounted pass (Imagine R)  to all transport systems of the city, including metro, buses, city trains and tramways.

  • Métro (M): with 16 lines and 303 stations it gets you anywhere in Paris and in the immediate outskirts. It is by far the most reliable and fast system, with intervals between trains from 2 to 10 mins depending on the time of the day. On the downside it closes at 12:30am on weekdays and 2:30am on weekends.
  • Buses (BUS and N): buses are an excellent substitute for the métro when you feel more audacious or actually want to see Paris while commuting. They have similar paths and stops to those of the métro but overall more frequent. A true lifesaver is the Nightbus (N) which has fewer lines but operates in the hours that the métro doesn’t. Particularly appreciated in both day and night buses is the maps and screens on board that make missing your stop virtually impossible.
  •  Trains (RER) and tramways (T): these mainly serve the outskirts and suburbs of Paris, but it is useful to know that the line RER B gets you to the Charles de Gaulle airport (included in the pass).

Studying

With the exception of a few American-styled cafés, bringing your laptop or notes to a French one is usually met with a curious and somewhat judging look. If you want to blend in and do as Parisians do, here’s a list of tried and tested places to get down to business aside from the university libraries:

  • Bibliothèque Publique d’Information: the BPI is located inside the contemporary art museum Centre Pompidou just north of Notre-Dame. It is open everyday except Tuesdays, from 12pm to 10pm on weekdays and from 11am to 10pm on weekends. In busy times you might have to wait in line for a place to empty but that usually doesn’t take too long.
  • Bibliothèque Saint Genevieve: a beautiful 2-century old Hogwarts-y building in the hip Latin Quarter  across the street from the Panthéon. It only closes on Sundays, whereas the rest of the week it’s open from 10am to 10pm.
  • Institut du Monde Arabe: this building on the Seine’s banks dedicated to the Arab world also features a modern library open to anyone from Tuesdays to Sundays from 1pm to 7pm.

Eating and Drinking

Now onto the most important part. Surviving in Paris means developing an exceptional eye for cheap places to eat and drink, but also identifying a couple of fancier place to splurge when you want to celebrate a good grade or forget a bad one.

  •  Pretty much anything in the Latin Quarter: this area has lots of cheap and delicious takeaway places including Lebanese Chez le Libanais and crêpe extraordinaire Au P’tit Grec.
  • L’As du Falafel is a must for vegans and vegetarians and it’s located in the beautiful narrow streets of Le Marais.
  • Pizzeria Popolare: imagine my joy as an Italian expat in finding a place where a Margherita is €5 and the staff and cooks are all Italian; also really cool and hip vibe, a Paesano of the French if you will.
  • When you walk the uphill path toward La Gare you might think you’re going to get killed in this remote and worn-down building, but it is actually a very popular and chill live music venue, usually jazz and often free, with cheap beer sold at the entrance and plenty of space outside to chill in between sessions.

 

Forgive the length of the post and the absence of images, the GASA blog space has run out of storage and the issue hasn’t been fixed yet. As always, I’m at your service for any information you might want and need on the Erasmus experience in general and one in Paris in particular. À la prochaine fois!

Facebook: Benedetta Annicchiarico
Instagram: benedettaa19
Email: benedetta.annicchiarico@gmail.com OR 2188139a@student.gla.ac.uk

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Monopoly Money

 

It’s very easy to feel like your entire year abroad is a holiday. It’s far removed from the reality of Glasgow, it’s an exotic location (yes, Canada is exotic) and the money looks like colourful Monopoly notes.

Of course, spending a little carelessly in the first few weeks is to be expected. There’s lots of parties to go to, trips to pay for, furniture, textbooks, the list goes on. Setting up a new life can be expensive.

However, after the first couple of weeks were over, I found myself spending a huge amount more than I used to in Glasgow. I can’t quite explain it, but the exchange rate gave me a sense of relief whenever I spent money.

 

Past Isaac, this is a warning from the future: you’re going to spent an offensive amount of money in first semester and then seriously regret it when you realise you have another six months to survive.

 

If, as I did almost every day for the entirety of last semester, I bought a bagel and coffee in the morning for $5, I could always comfort myself that in reality it was only £3. The problem is, I didn’t spend £3 every morning in Glasgow, nor did I spend $8 (£4.75) on lunch every day or any of the other things I found myself shelling out on.

To be honest, for most of first semester, I was aware that I was haemorrhaging money, but happy to justify it to myself with a more sophisticated version of yolo. At the end of the day, I am in Canada for the year and I want to make the most of it.

However, the longer I’ve been here the more I’ve wanted to extend my stay past a couple of weeks travelling at the end of the academic year and the more I’ve realised my purchases of novelty beavers are actually going to be the reason I have to leave.

For all the money I’ve sunk on overpriced pints, takeaway when I could have cooked or inflatable maple leaves, I’ve lost time in Canada.

I know that sounds a little over-dramatic, but if I could do first semester again, I think that’s what I’d change. I’d realise the value of money sooner because this year time isn’t money (I mean. I can’t legally work here), instead money is time.

I am lucky because I worked a fair bit over the summer and have had very generous friends and family, so I know that I’ve still got enough to finish the school year, travel for a bit and maybe even stay a few weeks after that.

However, if I had any advice for anyone waiting to be accepted for their study abroad placement, it would be to start to budget early and, if you feel that compulsive need just to spend for the sake of it (come on, it happens to all of us), spend it on a flight in May rather than a Suits poster and six portions of Tommy’s (excellent) pancakes.

If you’re applying, waiting to get accepted or need to know more about studying abroad from Glasgow in Canada, feel free to email me on callanisaac@gmail.com or get me on Facebook is Isaac Eoin Callan. 

Exploring Copenhagen on two wheels.

Hi all,

Firstly, many apologies for not writing a post sooner. Exam season quickly approached and my Christmas holidays were filled with writing essays as well as catching up with family and friends in the UK. Anyway, this blog is an introduction to, in my opinion, the best way of getting round Copenhagen, by bike!

Cycling is something which is essential in order to embrace the Danish lifestyle. In Copenhagen 50% of people commute by bike every day and the average Dane cycles 1.6 km a day! It is a cheap and great way of keeping fit and you are also helping to save the environment! At first I was so overwhelmed by the amount of bikes in the city and even more nervous to start cycling. I have a bike in the UK and would go cycling with my family in the summer but it doesn’t compare to cycling in Copenhagen. Thankfully the bike lanes are separated from the pedestrians and the cars and are clearly segregated by a curb. However, there are a few rules of the road to be aware of.

One of the most important is that you need to have a white light at the front of your bike and a red light at the back from sunset to sunrise- like cars, bikes need to be seen at night and it does get dark very early in Copenhagen! I have detachable bike lights which I bought from Tiger for about 40 dkk but some bikes have them attached. Next, you must always stick to the right hand side of a bike lane when cycling unless you are overtaking. Finally, when you are turning and stopping you must use signals; hand signal upwards means stopping, hand signal left means you are turning left and right means turning right.

It is not a law that you wear a helmet but I always do. It takes one cyclist to knock you off your bike and seriously injury yourself and a helmet significantly reduces these injuries. I would also recommend a lock if you don’t have one attached to your wheels. Despite the fact that bikes are everywhere in Copenhagen, theft is still common so it is essential to lock your bike every time it is parked up.

Buying a bike is relatively easy, I would recommend buying a bike second hand as there is no point in buying a new one as they can be very expensive. I managed to get my bike from one of my flatmates who had one spare but there are lots of second hand bike shops and pages on facebook. The only issue with using facebook to buy a bike is that many sellers sell on a first come first served basis and often they want you to come straightaway which I found frustrating as I wasn’t familiar with different parts of the city. Most second hand bikes sell between 350dkk-1500dkk and I wouldn’t recommend paying more than that. There is also a website you can use in which you can type in your bike to see if it is stolen or not before you purchase.

Overall, I absolutely love riding in the city. I have become very attached to my little bike and have named her Ida. It is the best way of exploring the city and most of the time the quickest.

As always please do not hesitate to contact me,

Katie x

Email: 2188748A@student.gla.ac.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/k.t.Armstrongxx

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/39515477@N02/

Useful bike sites:

https://secondhandbikes.dk/

https://www.facebook.com/Second-hand-bikes-Copenhagen-415725371914180/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1578810282419166/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/227532480777910/

https://www.facebook.com/copenhagenbikes/

https://bycyklen.dk/en/

Fast Festivities

My memories of childhood Christmastime involve weeks upon weeks of planning – choosing the Christmas tree, spending hours putting each handmade decoration back in its rightful festive place, deciding what we were going to eat and who we were going to eat it with – all building up to truly the most wonderful time of the year. Now that I am older, Christmas is no less wonderful, but it is different. I now split my time between my family in Inverness, my partner’s family in Scone, and my friends in Glasgow; I have less (read: no) say in deciding what Christmas tree we get; I am a lot more aware of family politics; and I have realised that the handmade decorations I was once so proud of are not the work of a budding Van Gogh.

This Christmas was perhaps the most rushed I have had. Although the Dutch festive season started at the end of November with the run up to Sinterklaas – a holiday full of marzipan potatoes, tiny spicy biscuits, and blackface – I was still in seminars on the 21st of December. I speak from experience when I say that having to do 148 pages of reading when you’re meant to be at home wrapping presents and eating hot chocolate doesn’t do much to get you into the festive spirit. When I eventually got home to the Highlands I was thrown back into everything thanks to my family’s annual Christmas cocktail party – you’ll be pleased to know that once again, I drank too many woo woos. It was lovely to see my family over Christmases Eve and Day, and during the pre-New Year’s limbo, and I spent Hogmanay with Cameron and the crew in Glasgow – not doing any of the uni work I was supposed to and trying to ft in too many plans with no-longer faraway friends. I had an excellent time though, spending time in my chilly city and realising that good friends will still be there no matter the distance reassured me about returning to Glasgow once Erasmus is over.

I’m writing this from the departure lounge waiting for my gate to open – to add to the rushedness (that’s a word, right?) of this festive season, I slept through all my alarms this morning and woke up with an hour to pack and get myself in the car. Temporarily, my thoughts changed from “what will I do when I go back?” to “what will I do if I can’t go back”. But I made it to the airport in time, and although I didn’t have time for breakfast, overpriced departure lounge shops are reassuring familiarity. I am excited to go back, I’ll be meeting my friend and flatmate Lauren at the airport, and it’s Venus’ birthday this week so we will be celebrating – but only once I have written 3500 words for a paper due on Thursday. Usefully, my sleeping pattern hasn’t fixed itself after Hogmanay, so it will be easy to stay up and write. Silver linings. It will be good to get back to the land of tulips and cheese, and I can’t wait to get my bike back. Walking is so slow.

Thanks to everyone I saw when I was back for making this a Christmas to remember, thanks to Mum and Dad for giving me a lift to the airport even though I was late. To everyone in Utrecht – see ya soon, let’s go to Chupitos. As always, send me an email if you fancy a chat, and don’t forget to eat breakfast.

Big love,
Cal xxx

Winter in Vancouver

It’s Christmas holidays!
Christmas holidays here are quite a bit shorter than in Glasgow: exams were written until Dec 20 and our 2nd semester is starting in 2 days (Jan 3, which is mid of the week?!), but of course, if you finish exams earlier, you have some more time! But seen as the semester starts earlier, we will already finish the 2nd semester end of April which is pretty cool!

While most people enjoyed 2 weeks of holidays, I had quite a lot going on as I still had to work on an online Psychology course for Glasgow, and sorted various other stuff out for applications for next summer. But Vancouver had a White Christmas, and snow in the city is enough to keep me happy! Cool thing was, it even stayed on the ground and roofs for quite a few days without melting!

Also there is a lot more christmas decoration here than in Glasgow! Even some of the busses were decroated like Rudolph the red nosed reindeer (with the red nose) (sadly I was never quick enough to capture it on a picture).

 

So what to do over Christmas in Vancouver?
Obviously skiing!
The mountains right behind Vancouver all have snow! (natural and artificial)
I have never tried out downhill skiing and will probably not do it this year either (at least not in Canada, I am too scared of spending the rest of my holidays in hospital). But there is not only downhill skiing, there’s also big areas for Nordic skiing (classic cross country and skating) as well as snowshoeing, so for anyone who loves snow, it’s a paradise.
In winter all the mountains operate shuttles so you can get to the ski areas fairly easily (although it is pretty expensive, but everything is expensive in Canada).

So as I decided to stay relatively safe, I went skate skiing (which is a new sport for me as well as I have only done classic skiing so far, and it was pretty fun!), and next weekend I will head to Whistler for even more. (Whistler seems to be VERY famous for downhill skiing, but it also costs twice as much there than in Vancouver… I have a friend coming up from Colorado just for the skiing there and I thought they didn’t have bad skiing down there either…)

PS: Pictures of Vancouver Winter Paradise will follow soon 🙂

For those coming to study in British Columbia: Getting the standard health insurance (MSP) is obligatory. And if I understand correctly, they cover hospital visits, so at least that is something you don’t have to worry about when your skiing is not great.
There is also an additional health insurance that covers some more, but  I think it is mostly about dental needs and prescriptions drugs, etc.
But for those studying anywhere in Canada this is something you should look into: not every health insurance will cover “extreme sports”! (and you don’t want to loose all your money for a hospital stay)
Best news towards the end of the year was that it is getting 50% cheaper this year, so instead of paying previous 75$ you’re now paying 37.50$!

For getting an idea about the skiing around Vancouver (and if you’re interested in bus prices, rental prices, ski ticket prices), google these 3 mountains:

  • Cypress mountain
  • Seymour mountain
  • Grouse mountain

Enjoy the rest of your holidays in Glasgow and wherever in the world! Happy New Year from Vancouver!

Tatjana
Email: 2202388L@student.gla.ac.uk
Instagram: ttjnlx

Events in Milan

Although it’s very easy to start living in the Bocconi bubble where your life revolves around campus and Navigli, Milan is full of things to do and see. As the second biggest city in Italy, there is always something going on and you will never get bored!

Fashion Weeks

Milan is synonymous with fashion and elegance and you will know this when the entire world flocks to the city during its annual fashion week. There are four fashion weeks that take place each year: two for the women’s collections and two for the men’s collections. Getting tickets for fashion week is pretty difficult if you don’t know anybody in the fashion industry. However a lot of events take place on the streets of Milan as part of fashion week and many models can be seen walking the streets of the city. One such event is Vogue’s Fashion Night Out that takes place during the women’s spring/summer collection each year.

Sport

Sport enthusiasts will have a great time in Milan. Not only is the Inter – AC Milan derby one of the highlights of the sporting calendar, but so is the annual Italian Grand Prix in Monza as well as the Milan Marathon.

Book City

Book City is a three-day event dedicated to books and reading. Meetings with authors, performances, readings, workshops, exhibitions and a reading marathon all create a calendar packed with well over 1000 events taking place around the city.

Food City

You cannot live in Italy without learning how to appreciate food and gastronomy. During the Food City event, Milan becomes the capital of workshops, exhibitions and tastings dedicated to high-quality food. The event sees the city rediscover its finest and famous food culture and its ability to enhance the country’s agri-food industry.

That’s all for now! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch (2176040M@student.gla.ac.uk).

Ciao!

Vlad

 

Facebook: Vladyslav Medvensky

Mastering Italian

Living in Italy means that you have the opportunity to learn one of the most beautiful languages in the world. However don’t assume that by just living here, you’ll become fluent in the language during your time abroad. Learning Italian and immersing yourself takes effort and dedication, but the following tips should help you get speaking Italian like a pro!

Italian language crash course

Bocconi organises a two week intensive language course before the start of term for exchange students wishing to brush up on their existing language skills and for those starting the language from scratch. The course consists of 40 hours of Italian and is a great way to not only learn the language but also to make new friends during your first few days in Bocconi.

Italian language follow-up course

Those wishing to take their Italian language skills up a notch are encouraged to take the Italia language follow-up course that consists of 30 hours of Italian during the semester, or four hours per week. These classes usually take place in the evening after a long day of classes and I only recommend taking the course if you are sure that you are going to commit to it fully.

Bocconi Language Exchange

The university runs a language tandem platform that allows you to be paired with a student wishing to learn your language and that speaks the language you are wishing to learn. This is great if you want to keep practicing Italian after the crash course, but may not necessarily wish to take the follow-up course. You usually have to sign up to the platform at the beginning of the semester, so definitely watch out for it.

Living with Italians

This sounds like common sense, but living with Italians is the best way to immerse yourself in the Italian way of life and also the language. The majority of exchange students only take classes in English, so most end up speaking only English both outside and inside the classroom. On the other hand, living with Italians forces you to adapt and to speak the local language.

Duolingo

If you are perhaps thinking of improving your language skills before coming to Milan, but don’t have anybody to practice the language with, then using apps and online resources is the best way forward. Duolingo is a great app for expanding your vocabulary as well as for reinforcing existing language concepts.

That’s all for now! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch (2176040M@student.gla.ac.uk).

Happy learning!

Vlad

 

Facebook: Vladyslav Medvensky

 

The practicalities of moving to Milan

Moving to a new country and adapting to a new culture can be both exciting and exhausting and no matter where you go, you will have to sort out things like banking, healthcare and other technicalities. Moving to Milan is no exception, so below I give you some tips and info on some of the more important aspects of moving to Italy.

Codice Fiscale

The codice fiscale is the Italian tax code given to all people living in Italy. It is a bit more advanced than the National Insurance Number in that you need it to open a bank account and even to sign contracts of any sort. Getting a codice fiscale is not particularly hard and can be obtained in two ways. One of them is getting it at the One-Stop Service Center at Bocconi and the other is through the Italian embassy in your home country. Getting the codice fiscale through the embassy can be particularly useful if you’re not yet in Italy and need it to sign a rental contract from overseas.

Banking

As I have mentioned above, to open a bank account in Italy, you need to have a codice fiscale. Luckily, there is a bank (Banca Popolare di Sondrio) on campus that offers Bocconi students pre-paid, refillable debit cards. Opening a bank account with them is much easier than with some other banks in Milan.

Healthcare

Registering with a doctor is not mandatory when moving to Italy, but it is important that you are properly covered in the event of an accident. It is highly advisable to get the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before you arrive in Italy. In one of my previous posts I mentioned that gyms and sports clubs here in Italy require you to have a medical certificate, so do make sure you get one from your GP back home or in Glasgow if you intend on doing sports in Milan.

Identity Document

This may sound like common sense but do make sure that your passport is in order before you travel. I have had my passport checked a number of times when travelling by train around Europe and I was once even asked for an ID when making a purchase in a local Zara shop.

That’s all for now! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch (2176040M@student.gla.ac.uk).

A presto!

Vlad

 

Facebook: Vladyslav Medvensky

Milan: Exploring off the beaten path

Although Milan lacks the charm of cities like Rome, Florence or Venice; the city nonetheless has many quirky and intriguing things to see and explore. Besides the famous Duomo, Castello Sforzesco and Teatro alla Scalla, below I give you a list of my favourite off the beaten track places to visit in Milan and Lombardy.

Bergamo

Bergamo is a city just an hour or so away from Milan by train. It is a city often overlooked by visitors keener to see Milan and Lake Como, but from my experience, it has been one of the most beautiful places in all of Italy, not to mention that it is a lot less touristy. Città Alta is the old medieval centre of the town and is not only rich in history, but also has beautiful views of the surrounding region from the very top.

Hangar Bicocca

Pirelli HangarBicocca is an old industrial plant in the north of Milan that has been transformed into an exhibition space promoting modern contemporary art. Entry to the museum is free and hosts various temporary installations as well as a number of permanent structures including The Seven Heavenly Palaces by Anselm Kiefer. Definitely worth a visit if you are interested in contemporary art.

Vigna di Leonardo

Leonardo da Vinci’s personal vineyard is a pure gem and is hidden away from many tourists. Steeped in rich history, Vigna di Leonardo not only gives tourists an insight into Leonardo da Vinci’s personal life, but also into the history of Milan and its people

Chiesa di Santa Maria presso San Satiro

If you’re an avid art and architecture lover, then you will absolutely love this beautiful church in the heart of Milan. What makes this church special is that given its small size, architect Donato Bramante was entrusted in making it bigger. Given the constraints of the land around him, instead of enlarging it, he created an optical illusion that made the church seem bigger than it actually is. What looks like a gilded arched ceiling behind the altar is really a painted wall!

Cimitero Monumentale

Cimitero Monumentale is a graveyard just minutes away from Stazione Porta Garibaldi. What makes it special is that it has been used by wealthy Italian families to build elaborate mausoleums for their loved ones. Some of the tombs are incredibly ornate and you can easily spend a couple of hours exploring the complex.

That’s all for now! As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to send me an email (2176040M@student.gla.ac.uk).

Ciao!

Vlad

 

Facebook: Vladyslav Medvensky

Learning Agreement & Choosing Courses

When one thinks of studying abroad in Italy, the first things that come to mind will most likely be pizza, sunshine and having a good time. While you will get to experience all of those things at some point during your exchange for sure, you must definitely not forget about studying!

One of the first things that you must decide when it comes to your academic journey is the courses that you wish to take during your year abroad. Choosing the courses that will meet your academic requirements as well as those that will stimulate you can be tedious and will require a certain amount of effort.

One of the things that you must do before going abroad is to complete a Learning Agreement that outlines the courses that you intend to take at your host destination. These requirements will obviously differ from student to student, so this post is primarily aimed at single honours economics students wishing to study at Bocconi.

As a single honours economics student, you will have four compulsory courses that you have to complete during your third year at Glasgow. These include Microeconomic Analysis, Macroeconomic Analysis, Econometrics 1 and Econometrics 2.

The courses that I have taken at Bocconi to satisfy the above course requirements include the following:

  • Microeconomics (30065) for Microeconomic Analysis
  • Macroeconomics (30066) for Macroeconomic Analysis
  • Statistics (30001) for Econometrics 1
  • Empirical Methods for Economics (30284) for Econometrics 2

From my experience, the most challenging part was taking statistics and empirical methods for economics at the same time in the first semester given that the latter builds on the former. At the University of Glasgow, these courses would be taken in two different semesters.

After you have accounted for your compulsory courses, you are left to choose from a wide range of different electives. Those interested in finance are particularly lucky given that the university has an excellent finance department and incredibly interesting courses such as International Banking and Risk Management with Derivatives.

When you will be filling out your Learning Agreement for the very first time, I wouldn’t stress too much about it because at the end of the day the course list is only tentative and prone to change. Furthermore, class timetables are only released a number of weeks before the semester starts, so you really have no idea whether your intended classes clash or not.

A full list of courses available for exchange students can be found here and I actively encourage students to read through all of the course descriptions and identify the electives that stimulate interest. There is no point in selecting courses that you have no interest in taking whatsoever. Do however bear in mind that some courses may require prerequisites that you must satisfy before enrolment.

That’s all for now! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch (2176040M@student.gla.ac.uk).

A presto!

Vlad

 

Facebook: Vladyslav Medvensky