It was only a matter of time until I found myself lost in Bologna, wandering under the 666 arches and eating my way around the city.
Choosing to study at the University of Bologna in the most beautiful city in Italy was easy; moving to a place where you face language barriers in the simplest everyday activities was hard. Simply using the word “ciao” will not solve your issues. Finding a place to stay was really hard. It's a city full of students playing the “hunger games” for a house and the last man standing wins.
I spent almost a month searching for a single room, dealing with students who would have preferred an Italian speaker as their future roommate. Finally I was lucky to find my current roommate, who wanted to learn English.
Making friends turned out to be surprisingly easy. I joined the free walking tours organised by university students, where I met other international students who shared the same experience as me and wanted to meet other people. I also came across Italian students on the library stairs while waiting in the line to enter and these students ended up being my close friends.
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Day one came around and I had my first lecture of my master's degree on electronic technologies for big data and the internet of things. My professors were impressive. They were highly motivated and enthusiastic about teaching a course in English, using discussion to stimulate critical thinking, which gave me and my classmates the ability to form our own ideas to reach solutions.
This style of learning was new to me because I was used to attending lectures with written exams. At the University of Bologna it was different. For the first time in my academic life I took oral exams, which aim to encourage students to explain the topic instead of memorising it.
Living in Bologna forced me to learn Italian, because no one will learn my language. Knowing basic Italian words made my experience more interesting, because the people I met in the streets and shops were impressed that I took the time and effort to learn Italian and were happy to help. Bologna also gave me the opportunity to interact with Italian culture and music, eat proper bolognese and meet the locals.
I signed up for salsa classes and I was excited because it was the only place where the language barrier had no impact. I also joined a volleyball team, which was challenging since I had no experience but my teammates were happy to teach me both volleyball and Italian.
I know that Bologna will take a lifetime to discover and I am happy to enjoy every day of it.
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