Students and one of the lecturers in front of a whiteboard

University Bologna, Italy

Blog Entry 6 – Erasmus and Travelling

Fri, 30 Jun 2017 | Universität Bologna

Looking at my bank account makes me kind of hysterical, because soon even my last reserves will be spent. I really belong to the poor students now. I'm broke now, but I have made thousands of wonderful experiences. I know, it sounds totally cheesy, but it is true! Looking at my calendar, I notice that in the last five months I have travelled to more than 20 cities and other places. Four times I travelled by plane and went swimming in the sea at seven different locations. Due to the fact that I only had to take my language course exam, I had enough time to travel.

When I think about the first day trip to Venice in mid-February, it feels like it was so incredibly long ago. Back then we were still wearing our winter jackets and still were cold. During my last trip to Apulia at the heel of the Italian boot I almost melted in the sun. I want to say it again and again: Unbelievable how fast time flies.

My friends and I organized almost all the trips and excursions on our own. Only to the trip to Naples, Sorrento and Capri we went with the organization Erasmusland. These Erasmusland trips are quite cheap and well organized, but also very exhausting and remind me of school trips. My girls, me and 55 other Erasmus students (about 50 of them Spaniards) took the bus from Bologna to Naples overnight and had a tight program on the next day on Capri. Tired to death and quite exhausted from the journey we walked around the whole island and had a wonderful boat tour. Although I really saw a lot of beautiful places in Italy in my year abroad after graduating from high school, I can say that Capri is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Italy. The sea is turquoise blue and the houses on the small island are snow white. The landscape really looks picture-perfect. The "class trip" continued…we went to Naples, Sorrento, Vesuvius and Pompeii.

The Neapolitans are very proud of their Neapolitan roots, whereas the rest of the Italians don’t really like the city and its inhabitants. I have noticed that many people associate this town with an incomprehensible dialect, a lot of dirt, chaos, but also the very best pizza. And it's really true: the city is quite dirty, but still beautiful. When Neapolitans speak in their dialect I don't understand a single word and wonder if this language really has something to do with the Italian language. All words are abbreviated or completely different words are used. Moreover, the pronunciation is much softer and not as clear as the "standard Italian" (reminds me a bit of my dialect). The city is really chaotic, because there are no red traffic lights. The Neapolitans ignore the existence of zebra crossings even less than the Bolognese. When you’re crossing the street you have to be incredibly careful and look ten times to the right and to the left. What really shocked me was that almost all scooter riders don't wear helmets and that three of them ride on a scooter (with two children and without a helmet!). Maybe I am “too German" and too responsible to bear this dangerous sight.

I do not know, if really all Italians don’t like the city and its inhabitants. Maybe it is only the Italians from the north, because the differences between the Italians from the north and from the south cannot be compared to the differences between the German “northerners” and “southerners”. In my opinion not only the cities and the dialects are completely different, but also the mentalities of the Italians living in the north and the south. The further south you go, the more open-minded the people become and the worse the infrastructure becomes. But in order to get an idea of it and to be able to judge about it, you should make a trip across Italy.

But now back to the Erasmusland journey: In general the 170 Euro for four days with overnight stays, bus ride and breakfast were absolutely worth it. As the organizers have already done this trip several times, every day is jam-packed and you can see an incredible amount of things that you might not have visited and seen on your own trip. In addition, you get in contact with other Erasmus students that you would probably not have met in Bologna. But you can be prepared partying every evening and drinking a lot of alcohol. Of course, everyone can decide if and how long they want to go out in the evening and how much they want to drink. But it is clear, that you will be exposed to Raggeaton (Latin American and Spanish music) 24 hours a day and that the energy of the Spanish fellow travelers is untiring. I probably wouldn't make another trip with Erasmusland or ESN, but once experiencing the full Erasmus party program was worth it. As an "Erasmus granny" maybe I am too old with my 25 years of age, because most Erasmus students are between 19 and 22 years old. If I remembered myself at 19/20, I would have been much more motivated to party 24/7.

Eventually, I can only repeat myself: Italy really is a beautiful place on this earth and has a lot to offer in terms of landscape and culture. I can only recommend to all those who are thinking about an Erasmus stay: choose Bologna, you won’t regret it.

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