Italy - #BIMdannmalinItalien

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Podcast #BIM dann mal weg

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You've always dreamed of one day sitting on a sweet, old balcony between colorful and traditional houses and simply enjoying the "dolce vita"? Then be inspired by Elisa's experiences from a semester abroad in southern Italy. Besides lots of pizza, pasta and vino, Elisa was able to improve her Italian enormously at the University of Salerno. In addition, you will receive many insider tips for excursions around the beautiful Amalfi Coast and a wonderful insight into a typical Italian everyday life. Let’s start the journey!

Contact details:

E-Mail:  bimdannmalweg.fwiwi[at]fhws.de

Instagram: @fwiwi.fhws

Credits:

Moderated by Lara Yargiman

Produced by Lara Yargiman and Sonja Zügner in cooperation with the economics student body of FHWS

Sound and editing by Sonja Zügner

Transcript

Lara: Hello and welcome to our podcast of the FHWS #BIMdannmalweg. In this podcast we talk about experiences of students who were in a semester abroad and today we have our third guest here and that is our lovely Elisa. Hello Elisa!

Elisa: Hey Lara, thank you for your invitation.

Lara: Thank you for being here! A warm welcome Elisa! Maybe you can quickly introduce yourself?

Elisa: Yeah, for sure. So, I am Elisa, I am 21 years old and I am studying International Management in my 6th semester.

Lara: Elisa where have you been for your semester abroad?

Elisa: I was in Italy. To be more concrete, I was in Salerno, which is close to Naples and is located at the beautiful Amalfi-Coast.

Lara: Wow that sounds more like holiday than a semester abroad.

Elisa: In any case – dolce vita!

Lara: Why did you exactly decide for Italy?

Elisa: I thought long and hard about my decision, but it was quite important for me to go into a country where I have the chance to learn the language. And as I already learned Italian during school it just fit into my plans.

Lara: And would you say your Italian has improved during your stay?

Elisa: Yes, for sure! There were a lot of language-course-offers from the university and due to the fact that in South-Italy most of the people don’t speak English – we had to speak Italian, so our language skills got better and better.

Lara: That sounds great. But what about the courses at university, were they in English or in Italian?

Elisa: That was actually a problem, because there were only few courses offered in English, that were matching with our studyprogramm. So, if you are fluent in Italian you can visit this courses, but if not it’s kind of a problem. But anyways there were also some courses in English.

Lara: What was the name of the University again, so that interested students can google it?

Elisa: The University is called: Università degli studi di Salerno.

Lara: And how would you describe your time over there? Was it the ‘dolce vita’ you expected, or where there also some problems? Maybe you can tell us, how it was when you just arrived? How was the weather, how was the mood? Can you take us on a mental journey where you can explain more to our listeners?

Elisa: We already organized our flat in advance and found it through a website which is called ‚Erasmuso‘, which I can highly recommend. Erasmus students can rent here whole apartments or a room in a shared flat. So, we just flew at the end of September to Naples and were picked up by our landlord in the city center – he was so kind! We were really exhausted when we arrived. But to enter our cozy apartment in the evening was a real highlight. We had a super nice balcony, and you could really enjoy the Italian flair. The next day we went to the university to participate in an information day. I have to admit that it is a bit difficult to get there. You just have to get used to the fact that the buses drive the way they want to. That's why we were late at first, but the Italians are used to that and do not have a problem with it. At the information event, we were shown around the university, the course registration was explained and the placement test for the language courses took place so that we could start right away. 

Lara: Okay since we are already talking about university, maybe you could quickly explain if you were able to get credits for many courses? How many courses could you take? And how was the overall workload?

Elisa: I had an Italian course twice a week, which I can really recommend to learn the language faster. Since I already had Italian in school, I took the B1 level course. Besides the two courses we had two other subjects, but I have to say that there are not that many opportunities. So in the end we did a ‚FFPF‘ (subject-related elective modules) and a subject that was called cross-cultural management. Both courses were twice a week, so you are actually often at university, even if you have not that many courses. But you have enough time for sightseeing, relaxing and amazing food. When we arrived, it was still very warm – so we spent a lot of time at the beach.

Lara: How far away was the beach from your home?

Elisa: We actually lived relatively high up in the city, so that we needed about half an hour to get to the beach by foot, but I would not prefer to use a bike in this city. You can also get there by bus or you can just visit the beach in your neighboring village.

Lara: Okay thank you. Maybe we can continue with the sightseeing spots, what can you absolutely recommend to our listeners?

Elisa: In this area there are a lot of possibilities for sightseeing. You will recognize that there are also a lot of tourists around the Amalfi coast. You can just rent a car and drive along the beautiful Amalfi coast or you can take a ferry from Salerno to Positano or to Amalfi or to Minori. The cities are beautiful, and everything is so pretty and just as you imagine it - there are little colorful houses all along the coast and turquoise blue beaches and it's just this Italian vibe. Then you should also visit the famous Pompei, for example as a day trip or Naples which is a really chaotic city. You really have to like it – but I loved it. I mean it’s a bit stressful, but by train it’s just about 30 min away and a perfect city to go shopping. Of course, there is also the possibility to do daytrips with the ERASMUS Organization for example to Matera, which is a very old city. Another town where we have been was Alberobello, maybe some of you know that village from pictures. There you can see beautiful white round houses with peaked roofs, but I can provide also some pictures for Instagram. This could also be done in an organized way and there were also guided tours. Otherwise, we were in Bari, which is at the east coast – so we just went through the country. It’s also a beautiful city and I really recommend travelling a lot over there.

Lara: That sounds like 24/7 beach and sun! Can you also tell me something more about food? So, have you eaten pasta and pizza everyday?

Elisa: Yes, I have to say that Barilla Pasta are very cheap in south Italy, so it’s always a good idea to cook pasta, but also going out for dinner is not that expensive. You can already get a pizza for 2,50 Euro. I would highly recommend to eat the pizza ‚Marinara‘, where you can find tomato sauce, olive oil, basil and garlic on it - but without cheese. It’s quite typical for this area. I can recommend in Naples the restaurant ‘L'Antica Pizzeria da Michele‘, some of you maybe know it form eat, pray, love – because it’s kind of a tourism hotspot – but it’s definitely worth to wait about 1 hour in the queue.

Lara: So, I think that there was also a possibility to cook on your own in your flat right?

Elisa: Yes exactly. We had a kitchen and cooked a lot on our own, because in the end it’s cheaper. Especially fruits and vegetables are very cheap and is mostly regional.

Lara: That would be my next question. Can you tell me more about the financial situation during your semester? I think you also got an Erasmus-Scholarship, right? So maybe you can tell us how much you got from the ERASMUS grant and how much money you usually spent for a month?

Elisa: I paid about 320 Euro per month for the flat. For sightseeing we mostly paid not that much, especially when it was organized by ISN. For example, for the trip around the Amalfi coast, by boat, we payed 21 Euros. And also, for other trips we always just paid between 10 to 20 Euro. For food and also going out for dinner we paid around 170 euro per month. We got around 260 Euro per month from the scholarship – but I am not 100% sure about the amount anymore.

Lara: Which expectations did you have for your semester abroad?

Elisa: In the beginning my goal was to get most credits as possible, but after a few days it was quite clear that this will not be possible and made me kind of sad. But in the end, that's not what the semester abroad is about. Especially for my personal development and form my language it helped me a lot and that was also kind of my expectation. I fell more in love with the culture, the people, the country and the food and want to go back again as soon as possible.

Lara: Did you also made friends over there? So, with Italians? Did you meet a lot of locals or is it more or less that everything happens on the campus with the internationals?

Elisa: Most of the people I met over there were Germans, what was kind of sad that we didn’t connect to more internationals. But there are also a lot of Spanish students (over 80%), who are doing their semester abroad in Italy. They tend to speak Spanish the whole time and then it’s a bit difficult to connect, but during the lectures you also did some groupwork where you get to know other international students from different countries. But very deep friendships to locals have unfortunately not been formed.

Lara: Have you lived in a shared flat with other Germans? How was the constellation?

Elisa: I was living in a shared flat with 3 more persons. One of them was a friend of mine - also from the FHWS (greetings to Julia!) another girl was from the Philippines and another one from the Ukraine – and yeah the communication was in English. However, it would also be a good idea to live in an apartment with Italians if you are interested to learn the language.

Lara: Elisa if you had to describe your semester abroad in 3 words. What would they be?

Elisa: Pizza, Pasta and Vino!

Lara: Would you say there was anything that went wrong, or was there any awkward situation in terms of cultural differences? Do you have another story you're eager to tell us?

Elisa: Nothing was actually embarrassing. The Italians are all very easy-going and very kind hearted people. But what is definitely a big cultural difference is time management. This typical unpunctuality and composure of the Italians - and you have to get used to that.

Lara: Before we are coming to an end, I also wanted to ask you about the party life. Were there many campus parties?

Elisa: That was really kind of sad, because there were not that many parties for us. There were many parties organized by ISN, but they are not in the city. So, you need to use an organized bus and they don’t drive that often – so you are not that flexible. So, we haven’t gone to parties honestly, because it was to stressful for us. But we went to shared-flat parties, which were really cool as well. Unfortunately there are no clubs in the city, but you can also celebrate at the beach.

Lara: Alright Elisa, then I would say we are coming to an end. Or is there something you still want to tell our listeners? Maybe something important that they should take with them.

Elisa: I think it would be good to know that you should not choose Italy in terms of academic performance. You shouldn't have false expectations, but I would still advise absolutely everyone to do that. And another little tip: you can also make super nice trips to Rome from Salerno – maybe on a weekend. And yes of course: Just enjoy your life over there with pasta, pizza and vino.

Lara: If you have any questions for Elisa then I can definitely pass on her contact details. Feel free to email me at bimdannmalweg.fwiwi[at]fhws.de or contact us via Instagram @fwiwi.fhws. Well Elisa, glad you were here and thank you for your time.

Elisa: Thank you very much for the interview and for inviting me!

Lara: Yes well, I'll say goodbye to you and to you Elisa! And see you soon again. Bye and take care!