La Vita È Bella – The Beginning of My Great Journey

At Bishop’s University, you have the chance to do a semester, or even a year, abroad! With over 500 university partners in dozens of countries around the world, the possibilities are endless! Emily Long, a 3rd Year, Modern Languages Major, shares her journey across the ocean.

Emily Long in Rome

As a Modern Languages student, I have always dreamed of going on an international exchange – there is nothing like learning a language surrounded by the people who live in that language and culture. Thanks to some encouragement and help from my friends and Bishop’s, I was able to turn that dream into a reality. I packed my suitcase, said ‘arrividerci’ to my family, and left for my exchange at the University of Bologna.

Everyone has some worries before leaving home. I was worried before I started university eight hours (and a province) away from the only town I’d ever known, and I was still a bit worried before leaving for a different continent. In both cases, my worries were unfounded. Bishop’s has been the best decision I have ever made and, as for my exchange, as soon as I arrived, I knew I had made the right choice. Bologna was my new home. Two months later and I’m still having the time of my life and laughing at the past me with her worries. Every once in a while, I miss Bishop’s, but all of my friends and family are just a Skype call away!

It is really easy to make friends on exchange. Unlike Bishop’s, there is no university- owned residence here, so students live together in shared apartments all over the city. Housemates are perfect candidates for your new friends, as you often spend time cooking together in your kitchen or even discussing cultural differences over late-night snacks. There are also Erasmus* groups that organize events and parties for all the international students. The hardest step to making friends is remembering the 100 names you learn in the first couple of weeks! These groups organize trips all over the country to see the different cities and landscapes. But if larger groups aren’t your thing, it’s also possible to hop on a train and be somewhere new in an hour!

Now, if you are thinking, “I’ve always thought it would be cool to go on exchange in ___, but I don’t speak the language!” Have no fear! Personally, I am studying in Italian, but most universities (including Bologna) offer classes in English! I have some friends who don’t speak a word of Italian and they are getting along just fine. Most people speak a little English, and if they don’t, they are patient and help you come to an understanding – just like the nice residents of Lennoxville!

Setting up my exchange was a lot less work than I thought! I just had to go to the Exchange Office in McGreer and talk with the one and only Diane Mills. She is the nicest person, and knows all about how to apply, budget, and plan for any exchange. She is even helping me right now as I plan for my next semester – in Germany! (Yes you CAN split your exchange and go to two different locations!)

On exchange, I have learned so much about the world but also about myself. On one hand, I am living in a country and city full of history. I am living in a new culture and learning about others from my friends. I am travelling to all of the places I’d only seen in textbooks, and of course, I’m taking some interesting classes too! On the other hand, I’m learning about my boundaries and learning how to move past any fears and forge my future. I would recommend all of you to think about going on exchange yourselves. It is the cherry on top of the already wonderful BU experience!

*Erasmus is the European organization that students use to organize their exchanges – if anyone asks if you are an Erasmus student…just say “yes.”

 

To learn more about student exchange and study abroad programs: http://www.ubishops.ca/future-current-students/student-exchange-and-study-abroad-programs/

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