“Take it from a gelato lover: there’s no better place than Italy”

Charline from Lasne (Belgium) is a second-year student of the MA in Work, Organizational and Personnel Psychology (WOP-P) in Cesena. "Italy’s unmatchable heritage includes art, history, religion, cuisine, architecture and fashion and Italians themselves are known for being flexible, confident, and charming people."

A globetrotter in Bologna 

My name is Charline Herinckx, I am a student attending the second year of Work, Organizational and Personnel Psychology (WOP-P) master programme in the Cesena Campus at the University of Bologna. I come from a small town in Belgium called Lasne, but I have been studying abroad for five years now.  Thus, I chose to study in the Nederlands for my BA in Psychology (Maastricht University) and Italy for my MA in Organizational Psychology (WOP-P) at Bologna University. Aside from my career choices, I would describe myself as a dynamic, positive, and people-oriented person.  

Gelato called, I answered 

Since gelato is my guilty pleasure, I could not see myself studying anywhere else than in Italy. Jokes aside, the culture of this country is what attracted me the most. Indeed, Italy’s unmatchable heritage includes art, history, religion, cuisine, architecture and fashion and Italians themselves are known for being flexible, confident, and charming people. 

 

Unibo and the rankings 

Among all Italian Universities, Bologna University was undoubtedly my first choice given its aim for excellence both in the education and research fields. What is more, Unibo ranks among the top 5 Italian Universities in the main international rankings and it is among the top 5 universities in Europe in terms of number of exchange students. Lastly, the Alma Mater represents a reference point for the European culture since is the oldest university in the Western world. 

Applying to the WOP-P master programme was very manageable. The application process only includes three steps that are detailed on the website of the master’s programme: uploading multiple files, filling in an online application, and have an interview. Before enrolling in this programme, I made sure to collect all the required documents and to get ready for the interview. 

My experience at Unibo: libraries and international desk 

Given the type of programme I am in, it is not surprising that I’ve found myself in a multicultural environment that makes of multicultural skills and competences a top priority and enhances the experience by resorting to many practical assignments.  
Bologna University offers a diverse range of services, ranging from study rooms, to book borrowing services, and psychological support. During my first year, my colleagues and used to study in the libraries and study rooms of the University. I highly recommend using these facilities, as I think that working with colleagues is more stimulating. Libraries and study rooms are surely useful, but the International desk has also been fundamental in my opinion as it helps with any administrative issues you may encounter during your stay. 

Learning Italian with friends 

Before coming here, did not have any Italian among my language skills. For this reason, I wanted to attend an Italian course for second-language learners. However, the entry level of Italian courses provided by the University Language Center (CLA) is A2 on. Despite being a very low level, mine was even lower and I could not attend those classes. I was a bit disappointed, but, thankfully, my flat mates and most of my colleagues from my master’s programme are Italians, so I could practice some basic Italian with them. 

Cesena Campus is not Bologna but... 

Cesena is a small but charming city, and its people are welcoming. When I think back about my first day in here, the first postcard that comes to my mind is me dragging my two huge pieces of luggage around the train station on my way to the unknown. At first, when learned the news that my campus was in Cesena and not in Bologna, I was highly disappointed. Nevertheless, once I arrived in Cesena, it did not take me long to fall in love with this city and the Italian culture. Living in a small city has its advantages. It is very easy to get around, it won’t take you more than thirty minutes by foot. Being so contained, it is certainly simple to meet other students, as you bump into the same faces all the time. In the end, after living here for a year, I must admit that I do not want to leave anymore. 

During my free time, I mostly hang out with my friends. Our activities vary greatly, from going for a walk in Cesena (e.g., Abbey, Rocca Malatestiana) to playing board games, going to a café, or traveling to other Italian cities (e.g. Rimini if you want to go to the beach). Besides, as my friends gave me an ukulele for my birthday this year, I also enjoy some time alone to learn how to play this instrument. 

Whether in Bologna or Cesena, finding accommodation is always challenging 

Finding an accommodation in Cesena is difficult, even more when searching for one semester only. Luckily, while scrolling down a Facebook group for accommodations in Cesena, I came across a post from an Italian girl looking for someone to take over her room during her exchange semester in Barcelona, so I made sure not to miss out on this opportunity. The flat is perfect for me under many aspects, but mostly because it is in the city centre in front of the best ice-cream shops in Cesena. Besides, my room has a view on the abbey and some important buildings in Cesena. Finally, I can count on four lovely flat mates, who are all Italian students. 

Online classes and the Unibo Community during the pandemic 

Managing my life as a student during the COVID-19 pandemic is not easy, I want to be completely honest about this. It seems to me that the University of Bologna is aware of this and the community puts a lot of effort into making the best out of such a hard situation. Indeed, it is timely in communicating with students and updating them about new decrees (DPCM) or other useful information. Virtual classes may be a good compromise during such odd times, but they cannot replace the richness of face-to-face exchanges.  

Quick tips 

Living and studying away from your home country may sound frightening but, believe me, you will not regret it. Studying abroad is a onetime opportunity to discover a new culture, enhance your network, develop your confidence, and see the world. If I were you, I would take this chance! 

And the University of Bologna, at least in my experience, is a great place for such an adventure: I would unhesitatingly recommend it to other fellow students. If you are looking for an international, prestigious and historical University, stop searching and apply now!