Hi guys! My name is Chloë van der Voort and right now I’m in my third year of the Bachelor of Science Tourism. At the moment, I am doing my minor at the University of Siena (UNISI) in Italy. Seeing as I had to choose economics courses for at least 50% of the courses I would attend here, I chose International Management and Competition Law and Policy. The other two courses I am following are political science-oriented; New Media and Globalization and International Relations. I could choose whatever I wanted for the other two courses, and seeing as I am interested in what is going on politically between different countries, I felt like these would be the courses for me.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that choosing my courses was easy. As is the Italian way, it took quite a while before I got any information about how to sign up for or choose any courses that I liked. We also did not get a schedule, so we had to plan our days ourselves which meant that some had to change courses because otherwise, they would overlap (including me). In the end, everything went fine though and now everyone is happily settled in their university routine.

Something that is also a little different here, is that the schoolyear only starts in October. This means that I had the whole month of September to explore the city of Siena and everything surrounding it. I also chose to attend an Italian Language class to help improve my Italian. It turned out that this was also a great way to meet people. No one had classes that had started yet and we saw each other every day at the language course, which meant that we had enough time to do fun things outside of the language course. We went for aperitivo’s, pizza, pasta, wine,  you name it. Everything that even remotely sounded Italian we ate or explored during this first month.

Generally, the application process was quite clear from Wageningen and Breda in terms of what we had to prepare for our time abroad. From the university in Italy on the other hand, I got less (clear) information. It is very true that the Italians aren’t really used to speaking English, which became clear when visiting their university website. In order to find out all the things I had to prepare so that they knew I would be there for my minor, I had to search for the application process on a website which had a half Italian, half English “English version”. Luckily, the process itself went very fast, and my Italian coordinator answered all questions I had.

Finding housing also went quite easy, because there are many sites on which you can look for a room, such as Housing Anywhere and ErasmusU. The University of Siena also gave me the opportunity to live in university dormitories, so I had enough options to choose from. In general, the living costs in Italy are not that different from the Netherlands, so the prices of the rooms are also relatively the same. I ended up in quite a big apartment with around 15 people of 8 different nationalities, which I think really represents the Erasmus time. So depending on where you end up living, that is also a nice way to meet more people!

Additionally, regarding the COVID situation in Italy, I don’t notice too much of it. Italy did implement a ‘Green Pass’ which is your proof of vaccination and which you have to show every time you go inside somewhere. Other than that, we can go to clubs and café’s whenever we want without them having a mandatory closing time. I also always go to the university, instead of only having online classes, but they do make sure that every class is also available online and is being recorded to watch later if necessary. I am definitely happy about that because it is also a very nice way to meet the people that didn’t do the language course in September.

Furthermore, seeing as I am following courses from both the economics and the political science department, I meet a lot of people studying a lot of different things. It is also very cool to see that everyone who is doing their Erasmus right now is coming from all over the world and are of different ages, studying different things. It really broadened my perspective on the fact that there is no one right way for your ‘study career’.

Lastly, I absolutely recommend you to join the ESN organization! ESN stands for the Erasmus Student Network and organizes a lot of fun parties and activities in which you can participate with your ESN card. Local students run the organization, so if you want to know anything about the region that you’re studying in, you can always ask them.

Overall, I’m very grateful that I got the opportunity to study abroad, and I am so glad that I chose Siena as my minor destination. I can definitely recommend studying abroad and am looking forward to the next couple of months I’m going to experience here!

Author: Chloë van der Voort