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I first heard about the Erasmus Program through friends and other students. I am already a foreigner in Germany so I wasn’t sure if I could also be part of the Erasmus Program since I don’t have a EU passport. After research I found out that because I am studying in Germany as a German student I can also be part of Erasmus and study abroad. My home university Potsdam held a couple of meetings and events for the students interested and explained the process before, during and after the semester/year abroad.
Aufenthaltsdauer: 09/2017 - 01/2018
Gastuniversität: Università die Roma La Sapienza
It was recommended that I have previous knowledge of the language to better fit in in the land and culture, and I did find it very useful since in Italy not many people speak English. I found out as well that I could attend courses of a master program that were in English. I took two courses in English and one in Italian, so my Italian also improved academically on a daily basis. There are Facebook groups for Erasmus students in Rome, they hold events throughout the semester like pizza and movie nights, language tandem nights and many more. This is a great way to get to know other Erasmus students and also get a feel of the Italian culture when we do tandem nights. This Erasmus group also goes to nearby cities like Napoli and Pompeii for field trips and excursions. La Sapienza university is one of the biggest universities in Europe. At first I had some trouble communicating with the Erasmus coordinator and finalizing the documents and papers to be signed like the Learning Agreement and mobility forms to be accepted at the program. The master courses that I took were in English, the students were international as well as Italians with a more international mindset. And in my Italian class which was a bachelor program, the students were all Italian and one could feel the change of atmosphere.
Each faculty has its own library, the psychology library is not very exhaustive and you can’t just get a book and sit down to read it. People actually have to buy the books for each class to be able to study because the exams are mostly about what the book says and the lectures support the teaching but much learning has to be done outside of class. There were no computers for open use at my library and most of the time all the spaces were already taken. Unlike in my home university, in La Sapienza we had the same class 3 times a week for about 3 hours so the recommended amount of classes was three which accumulated to a total of 27 credits which I think are different from the way it is in Germany. At least in the master program the courses required much more work; we had to hand in essays and do some tests that are part of the final grade. I like that kind of course because it forces you to study and stay on track but it leaves you with not much time for other things.
Rome is a very expensive city. I tried searching for an apartment online before arriving in the city, but it was very difficult because I just saw photos and didn’t really have much contact with the landlord or with the people living in the apartment. So I decided to go to Rome and stay with a friend for a couple of days while I looked at apartments. This is also the way Italians do it. I found a room which cost 400€ per month plus expenses like light and gas which was around 40€ extra per month. The room that I got was very small and I shared a kitchen with 5 other room mates but we did have three bathrooms, so a bathroom was shared only by two people. I lived with 4 Italians and we would hang out sometimes at home and cook together. That way my Italian also improved much on a conversational and colloquial level.
In Rome there are three underground lines that connect parts of the city and there are many busses but the public transportation is not always so reliable, so I decided to go by bicycle. From my house to my university campus it’s about 6 km which is around 25 min by bike and with public transportation it would be around 35 min, if the busses came on time. And to go to the center it would be around 40 min.
The costs of food are around the same compared to Berlin, some things are cheaper like fruit and vegetables and processed food is more expensive. But everything was well to be found and fast foods like pizzas could be bought everywhere.
I wanted to do some sports but everywhere you go you have to pay a initial fee which is good for a year and then monthly. So I decided not to sign up because it was too much money for just 4 months. But in Rome there are many parks and places to walk so I didn’t need any gym or anything.
Studying in Rome has been a wonderful experience because I love the culture and the food. It has been a blessing to be able to learn the language and to be surrounded by Italians. Not everything is as functional and in order as in Germany but that’s part of life for the Romans. Some people enjoy, if not, need the chaotic state of the city in order to function. It’s good to have an organized chaos. Maybe in words it doesn’t sound as romantic but once you live it, your mind opens up to many new possibilities. Everything is possible even if people tell you it’s not. There is a way, you just have to find it.