Blog Entry 3 – Three-Day Semester Break
Bicycles and Bologna belong just as much together as Würzburg and wine. Everywhere in the streets you can see old, rusty bicycles. In Germany, no one would use such battered bicycles. Since the city is not too big (about 386,700 inhabitants), you can reach everything perfectly by bike. Therefore, I decided to get a bicycle. I was lucky and found one in the Erasmus group on Facebook. Most of the time, the dates of departure and arrival of the Erasmus students who leave and arrive in Bologna in the winter and summer semester overlap. That’s why many bicycles are sold at the beginning of the summer semester. I was very happy to have found a bicycle so quickly together with a good, thick, black lock. A good bicycle lock is more valuable in Bologna than the bicycle itself, because you are really lucky if it is still in front of the door the next morning. Here, bicycles are stolen and then sold again for little money. One could describe it as a cycle that will never end. Therefore, I hope that I don't have to say goodbye to my new bike again soon, because I neither have the possibility to park the bike in the backyard nor to take it into the apartment.
My first ride on the newly bought bike could be described as an exciting adventure. In my mind’s eye I already saw myself waking up in the hospital. Firstly, the brakes hardly worked, secondly the Italians drive in their own special way... Chaos on the road! With cold sweat on my forehead I tried to adapt somehow to this unusual driving style and to line up somewhere between buses, cars, motorcyclists and other drivers. Completely whacked I arrived in my district and first had to come to terms with this crazy traffic situation. And here I was supposed to ride my bike for six months and without getting injured?! Maybe walking would have been the better decision. Although that would be about as dangerous as riding a bicycle for a German pedestrian who is used to traffic rules. Nobody stops here at the zebra crossing anyway. You just have to run and hope that the car driver decides to brake. In addition, motorcyclists arrow out of every corner. All pedestrians walk over red pedestrian lights. I almost feel bad when I just stop and don't jaywalk when there’s no car passing. Okay, I have to get used to that. In Bolzano everything was a bit more civilized, maybe because Bolzano is located in South Tyrol and definitely is more Austrian than Italian. But now I have written enough about the traffic situation and will go back again to my "three-day semester break" in Italy and how to make social contacts as fast as possible.
In Bologna there are two organizations especially for Erasmus students: ESN-Bologna and Erasmusland. Both of them organize parties, offer day trips to several cities or longer city trips. In other words, ESN and Erasmusland have different names and rather compete than cooperate, but they have exactly the same offer of excursions and events. If you want to participate in their events or get discounts in clubs and bars, you have to pay ten euros for a membership and a membership card.
So Tesi and I decided on Friday evening, after my successful bike purchase, to go to an ESN event to meet new people. After all, we were at the so-called "Tandem" in a small bar. There are different tables where different languages are spoken. So we sat down at the "German table" and talked to Italians who wanted to learn German. At the event we got to know two guys from Modena (a small town close to Bologna). Together, we arranged a meeting the next evening for "Apericena" and partying. After I had a very pleasant first Friday in Bologna, I was already looking forward to Saturday evening. Despite my one-year stay in Bolzano, I had never heard the word "Apericena" before and I had no idea what it meant. It had to be a mixture of aperitivo and cena, which means dinner. I only knew "Aperitivo", which also exists in German. Before dinner you drink a spritz in a bar and get a snack with it. Some of the Italians enjoy their aperitivo as early as noon. When one strolls through the streets of Bologna, you can see at every corner Bolognese people who enjoy a spritz, chat incredibly loud and eat chips or other snacks. Drinking aperitifs is part of the everyday life here, just like drinking a glass of wine on the Old Bridge in Würzburg. Apericena, however, outperforms the normal aperitivo. In addition to the aperitivo, there is also a buffet where you can eat as much as you want on the cheap (between 5 and 8 euros). Tesi and I were so enchanted by the Italian buffet that we scoffed about three times as much as the boys. After we had filled our stomachs, we went to a club called "Qubo" that is located in the middle of the city. Also in this club, Erasmus students with the Erasmusland membership card get a reduced entrance fee. The disco was incredibly crowded and it was unbelievably hot, but the sweating was worth it and it was really an awesome evening.
My semester break here was short, but really nice!