At Verona university the Erasmus society is highly regarded, and rightly so.
They organised a freshers’ fortnight specifically for Erasmus students which included meals, nights out and aperitivo evenings where we could meet new people from all over the world that we were going to be sharing this experience with.
As well as these freshers’ events, the society arranged trips to a wine festival in Bardolino in Lake Garda, events nights in Milan, and day trips to Venice and Turin.
Although it was pouring down with rain for the whole seven hours (!!) we were at Bardolino, the wine festival is one of my favourite memories of the year so far. The Italians take their wine drinking very seriously! Upon arrival we were provided with a wine-bottle carrier to be worn around the neck. Very convenient and practical in my opinion. This is definitely a product I would like to pitch in the UK.
There is a campus pub where themed nights are held for Erasmus students as well as Verona university home students. There have been games nights including beer pong and limbo tournaments, as well as pyjama and traffic light parties. The campus is a great way to meet people in a more relaxed environment where you can have a few drinks and practice Italian while showing off your limbo skills.
It’s hard to meet people at uni because they only teach in lectures here and not seminars, so being part of the Erasmus society and the tandem programme has massively benefitted me.
The tandem partner system is a voluntary programme where you get paired with a native Italian who wants to improve their English. From then on, you have very informal ‘meetings’ whenever you are both free, just to get to know each other and practice the language in a relaxed environment as a way to increase your confidence. My tandem partner and I meet about once a week to chat for a couple of hours over lunch or drinks. Because she is of a higher level of English than I am Italian we spend the majority of our meetings speaking Italian, which is perfect for me. We have planned day-trips to Bologna as well as her home town of Vicenza. I am very grateful for these opportunities and I have definitely gained a friend that I would never have met otherwise.
Also, completely coincidentally, she lived and worked in my hometown over the summer – what a small world!