Community is everything, especially while living abroad

At the time I am writing this blog, I have already accomplished an Erasmus abroad in Paris for six months and am currently doing my second in Italy. During these months, I have learned a lot about what it means to live in a community or family. Therefore, I want to write a blog about myself today, and also present to you methods on how to connect with people in a new city.

I am a Swiss student in the Department of French and Italian Literature and Linguistics. Thus, I felt the need to go outside Switzerland and get to know the countries, people and traditions of the languages I study –  the origins.

First, you can work and live in a foreign family. I did this method twice already, once in Paris a semester, and now in Bologna. I strongly recommend this choice to anyone who is considering studying or living in a new place, because it guarantees not only a free place to stay, but the chance to get to know the locals! While I was studying in Paris, I lived with and talked to a Parisian family. In addition, they showed me places, events and food that I never would have experienced if I had taken a room in the university campus.

In Bologna, things are a bit different, since I live at a place called Camere d’Aria. It is an old factory that has been renovated and now houses an artistic organisation that offers workshops, courses and theatrical events to the public. For me, it’s the best time I ever had in my life, since I am meeting a lot of young and old people that come from all over the world.
However, there are more methods to meet friends that don’t require you to stay with a family.

You can join several organisations like ESN that offer events to the students. Especially in Europe, it is a very popular network that connects students and offers activities like trips or parties. If you have an apartment or a room, this is another way to create your community. I seldom joined these gatherings since I had already known people and a lot to do, but it seemed very welcoming. Honestly, I like more public events that you can find on flyers or Facebook, because there you can meet locals, and not only students.

Another way to meet new friends is to simply go to university and say hello to your classmates. Sometimes, the solutions are so easy that we don’t even consider them. For instance, I said hello to two people in the first lesson I attended and slowly we got into a conversation. Fast forward two months and we often do things together. Recently, one even invited us to his parents and grandparents and we had dinner together.

In conclusion, I really appreciate the people that are around me because I find it a lot more entertaining to attend activities in groups. These studies abroad have taught me that forming friendships, relationships and a community is a long process, but it is really worth it. Depending on your hobbies and interests, you will always be able to meet people and the examples above were based on my life.

However, the summary of this topic is quite simple: To meet other people, you have to expose yourself to them.

I hope that this blog was able to give you a few answers and thank you for reading.

Francesco Moser

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