Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Student life: Top 50 tips for navigating Bologna

Travel. Bring layered clothing. Look up when walking through Bologna. Those are some of the tips that the SAIS Bologna Class of 2013 put together before packing their bags at the end of the year. Hilary Kinka, who helped spearhead the initiative, discusses the advice her class bequeaths to its successors.

Before scattering across the globe for summer internships, jobs and travel, our class collectively brainstormed about how to get the most out of living in Bologna. The result was a list of 50 top tips for extracting the most out of your time at SAIS Bologna.

Bologna "La Rossa"
Responses ranged from the specific -- avoid bolognese bread -- to the more general -- drink as much caffeine as possible. The overarching message from the Class of 2013 was the importance of integrating into local culture.

A recurring theme was the importance of breaking away from one's studies at the Bologna Center to explore the city and Italy as much as possible.

Many suggested that traveling within Italy, as opposed to internationally, is a great way to get to know the country and region in which you will be living for an academic year. Taking advantage of freer schedules during the first semester is advisable to fit in weekend and day trips, as it can be shocking how busy second semester gets.

Although it may require going out of your comfort zone, getting to know Italians can be very rewarding. While many Italians speak English, a working knowledge of Italian helps one dig behind the surface and relate better to locals.

Hilary (2nd from left) with classmates
in the Dolomites
There are many approaches to meeting Italians: chat with a vendor at a farmer’s market, start up a conversation with a café owner, share an apartment with Italian students, utilize Facebook meet-up groups.  Choose the method easiest for you.

At times, school work can seem all encompassing. In these moments, take a step back and reassess the bigger picture -- you are living in Italy! Bologna has a lot to offer, so do some research and take study breaks to enjoy festivals, local events, café culture, excellent restaurants, beautiful hikes, fresh produce from farmer’s markets and delicious gelato. Enjoy all of the benefits of living in a medieval city while you can.

We hope these tips will help future classes to settle into their new home.

Hilary Kinka (BC13/DC14)

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