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A publication to assist the dramatic transition for the 2nd year Italian students at Warwick University. Warwick students spend their required year aboard a year earlier than most equivalent courses, and so can sometimes feel daunted and a little under prepared. This list of top ten tips, compiled by students of past years, was designed to relieve some of the stress of the unknown. Commissioned by the Warwick University Italian Society.



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    You may have the universe if I may have Italy. Giuseppe Verdi

    Going abroad in your second year can be a scary prospect. Whatever you have heard, whatever you have seen; your Year Abroad will be a year to remember and to reminisce about. Memories will be made, and lessons will be learnt. The experience of a lifetime is ahead of you. Excited? Scared? Anxious? Here are a few helpful tips, to help you along the way, from those who have been there, done it, and lived to tell the tale

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    culture Whether you cant wait to leave for Italy or youre feeling slightly nervous about it, the chances are that you will feel homesick or university-sick at some point during your year in Italy. The best way of dealing with this Culture Shock is to expect it and then it will come as less of a surprise. The most common time for it to occur is as you return to Italy after the Christmas holiday; the first term of Erasmus still tends to feel as though youre on holiday, but after Christmas its colder and rainier and it feels more permanent. Do not despair! It is most likely that everyone else is feeling the same so the best thing

    to do is not to bottle it up! A chat and a few glasses of prosecco and some pizza later and everything will begin to feel much better!Another way that you can combat homesickness is to stay in touch with friends and family in England and encourage them to come out and visit you in Italy after theyve seen where youre living, theyre guaranteed to remind you of the amazing things about Italy when youre feeling a bit down. The moral of the story is; dont expect everything to be perfect all the time and make sure you share with your friends (theyll be glad to know that you feel the same!)

    s h o c k

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    language courses

    erasmus student networkAlthough youll get all the speaking practise you need and more while in Italy, you may find that your grammar and written skills may suffer. Each university

    will provide language courses to Erasmus students.

    Language courses not only keep your grammar in tip top shape but they are also a great way to get to meet your fellow Erasmus students. And theyll be useful when it comes to writing those pesky essays.

    You may get the offer to attend a month long intensive language course during the summer at the Universit per Stranieri in Siena or Perugia. You have about 4 hours of classes each day and there are trips at the weekends. Its an excellent opportunity as other Erasmus students from all over Europe attend and then go off to their specific cities.

    It means that you are gently eased into the Italian lifestyle, and the Erasmus way of life, as well as helping you to become more confident with your Italian before moving off on your own.

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    erasmus student network

    Its a good idea to find out if the university youre going to has an ESN office, since

    they are used to seeing ERASMUS students year

    after year, with no idea what theyre doing! At the very

    least the office will act like university house at Warwick,

    and will be able to advise you on enrolment, module choices and even organise

    socials or trips around Italy. These are a really great

    way to meet people, make friends, and see Italy! Some

    ESN offices also help with finding accommodation, and

    arrange airport pickups for students arriving in Italy for the first time, although this

    depends on the university youll be attending. So in

    short, contact them!

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    Bear in mind that although while you may have a clear grasp of the language before you arrive in Italy, culture and custom will be another matter. Here are just a few of the major cultural differences youre likely to come across:

    The dreaded Pausa!!

    This can vary depending on where you are in Italy and what size town/city youre in, but as a general rule the Italian equivalent of a siesta called la pausa is from 12.30-3. If you end up in a large city in the North of Italy its effects will not be as noticeable as in the South, as the pausa here is significantly shorter and the larger shops will remain open. If you do go far down south you may find yourself being the only person in a ghost town during lunch time: especially in the summer months the pausa can extend until 4.30/5 with almost all shops and cafs closing.

    Almost all shops and cafes will be closed on Sunday so bear that in mind.

    Youll also find that offices will always open at the silliest times possible as

    well as for the shortest amount of time they can get away with. Its normal for them to be open for a few hours from 9-11 and then take an extended pausa and re-open at 4. Often theyll only be open 1 or 2 days of the week as well. These rules will definitely apply to your Erasmus and ESN offices so make sure you know what hours theyll be open or you may have a long wait in the nearby caf.

    A trip to an Italian post office can be a baffling experience. But it is necessary, as youll need to go there to pay bills and possibly your rent as well. Very few people will be sending a package; most are there to pay bills. The post office WILL be packed. It doesnt matter what time of day you go- it is always busy. Youre supposed to get a ticket for whichever service corresponds to what you need; youll soon find that it doesnt matter which ticket you get just as long as you get one. You will probably be waiting a while so just make sure you dont fall asleep waiting and miss your turn. In short, prepare yourself beforehand, leave yourself at least an hour

    it is necessary. Oh and remember, you buy stamps in a tabaccheria not the post office!!

    Italian men!

    Girls! This ones for you. Youve heard the warnings; youve prepared yourself; its going to happen and of course it does, almost as soon as you step off the plane youll hear the notorious Ciao bella, come stai? This may feel harmless, even flattering, but thats only the start Italian men can be very persistent.

    It may be something to do with being English. Italian men have a very clear (but erroneous) idea about us. Going out at night in short skirts, wearing stilettos and with plunging necklines is definitely not the best move. Take your cue from people who know best: Italian women. It will make a lot of difference.

    No matter how annoying the Ciao bellas can be, try and stay positive: how often will you be told you look pretty when youve got greasy hair, no make up, and wearing trackies?

    cultural differences

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    Youve managed to escape the Bubble for a year, great! That is until the word esame appears...Regardless of whether you are obliged to take them or not, it is worth weighing up the pros and cons. Obviously your initial reaction would be why? Yes, they can take up a lot of extra time reading that book that you will probably never understand, but you could learn something new. The vast majority of Italian exams are oral; they are an excellent way to push your Italian and a great practice for the Term 1 oral exam back at Warwick. The chances

    are a lot of your Italian/Erasmus friends will also be taking exams, so enjoy all the joint revision under the sun and start to put your head in study-mode in preparation for third year. Overall, although they are that little bit of extra work, its up to you how much effort you put in; you may be lucky and have an assessor who gives you 30 e lode as soon as your Erasmus face walks into the room! Although they dont give any extra marks to your degree, the fact you have done them could push you into that next degree boundary, plus it looks great on a CV!


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    Accommodation is one of the most important things you will have to consider when starting your year abroad. Where you live and who you live with will greatly influence your integration into Italian culture and your social life while you are out there. Finding accommodation in Italy is very different to house hunting in England; the best way to do it is to go out there (maybe get your parents to take you on a quick holiday!), book a room in a cheap hostel and then take a walk around the town looking at notice boards to find suitable descriptions of rooms with feasible rents. When you have selected a few places, either ring the number on the notice or nip round to the address to check out the room! This may seem a bit daunting, but it is all part of the adventure, and the great thing about Italy is that if you discover, after a few months, that you dont really like where you are living, or who you are living with, there will always be another option for somewhere else to move to; people graduate throughout the year in Italy and so rooms become free regularly. Another way of

    finding accommodation would be to contact the people that are there at the moment, or who have come back they could tell you the best area to live in or give you the details of their accommodation. The same goes for the Erasmus students in Warwick at the moment the resources are all there, you just need to use them! If you wish to get in contact with Erasmus or Warwick students, the Year Abroad Co-ordinator will be happy to help you!

    The key to true integration into Italian culture is to live with Italians; you will find Erasmus students all over the city and there will always be an Erasmus event that you can go to, but to improve your language the best thing to do is to live with other Italian students! This is not as scary as it sounds! They are friendly and welcoming and your Italian will improve simply by making friends with them. These are all just tips that you m