Bologna has the oldest university in Europe, so for hundreds of years students from far away have been coming here to study!
These days the European Union’s Erasmus program encourages students in different member states to spend part of their college course abroad learning the language and culture of another European country.
Many choose Bologna, and why not? It’s an excellent destination for anyone, young or old, wanting to learn the Italian language and have a great time.
But arriving in any new city can be disorientating, especially if it’s your first time abroad on your own. You’ll want to get organised so that you meet people early on, get on with learning Italian, and start enjoying yourself!
To help with that, here’s some advice from this year’s Erasmus students which we’re happy to pass on to those of you who’ll be arriving in September.
Seven Top Tips For Erasmus Students in Bologna
1. You’re going to need to find a place to live, right? Here are some ideas to get you started. First of all, take a look at rooms to rent on these two websites: http://www.easystanza.it/ and http://bologna.bakeca.it/ .
No luck there? We’re told that joining the Bologna Erasmus Group on Facebook is a good idea. There are always a lot of rooms being advertised there, apparently. Or you could just come to Bologna, book a hostel for a few days, then try to find a place. Look for a flat-share with Italians, so you’ll be able to practise your Italian.
2. If you also plan to eat while you’re here, the cheapest option is the supermarket. Look out for a Coop, Pam or Conad near your new home, or on the way to or from the university.
Supermarket prices are low and you can save a lot compared to the price of eating out. Careful though. Shops in Bologna close early, at around 20.00 / 21.00. If you need urgent supplies after that, you’ll need a smaller grocery store. There are plenty in the university district but they’re more expensive, so plan ahead!
3. Don’t have a good sense of direction? Hate getting lost? Buy a map of Bologna, then. Newsagents sell them for a few euros. You won’t regret it. Our city’s an easy place to find your way around once you get used to it, but it’s true that the porticoed streets can all look the same at first. And the names take some remembering if you don’t already know your Italian history.
4. If you go anywhere, go to Piazza Verdi! Bang in the heart of the university quarter, it’s where students meet up, have fun, drink wine, or just hang out. It’s the obvious place to make some friends and soak up the atmosphere. There might even be some music on. Mind the riot police, though.
5. Here’s a don’t. Don’t climb to the top of Due Torri! The legend amongst university students is that if you do, you’ll never graduate. So if you want to visit one of the most famous buildings in Bologna, best wait until after you finish your degree!
6. Get a bike. Bologna is a city of bikes – they are one of the most popular forms of transport. But don’t spend out for a good one, as there are bike thieves on every corner. Buy the ugliest bike in the city, then invest in a good lock.
7. Join the Tandem Language Learning Bologna group on Facebook to find out about tandem meetings and events and so make new friends and improve your Italian at the same time.
P.S. Remember, you’ll get much more out of your time in Bologna if you study Italian early on. That way you’ll be able to talk to people, and understand what they say to you. Or some of it, at least!
The university offers free Italian courses, but they fill up quickly and don’t last long. As an alternative, Madrelingua offers a 30% discount for Erasmus students on all our group courses. Click to find out more about our Italian Courses, Prices, & Discounts.