“Being a student of the Alma Mater is uplifting”

Newly graduated Waleed from Pakistan feels proud to be a Unibo student

Waleed at the library

My name is Waleed and I’m from Pakistan. I’ve just graduated from the University of Bologna with a Master’s in Civil Engineering specializing in Structural Engineering. My experience at Unibo will be with me forever, studying here changed my life.


Unibo as part of Europe

The University of Bologna is the oldest university in Western Europe with a riveting culture of innovation and technological advance. It makes me proud having studied at this well-known university with such a great rooted history. The idea of studying in Italy came to me while considering Europe as an institution. Indeed, Italy is one of the founding members of the European Union and a leading country of the Eurozone. The history, culture and artistic heritage of Italy has always enticed me, and I felt excited at the thought of studying and living here. Bologna University ranks pretty well in the major world’s rankings and this also played a role in my choice. I choose Unibo due to the professional profile of the Master degree in Civil Engineering, I found the curriculum was more complete and international as well as broader in scope.


The enrolment process may be a bit painful but Unibo is worth it!

I had to be very scrupulous with all the papers to hand in at the Italian Embassy in Pakistan in order for my enrolment to be successful. Pakistani students, and Non-Eu students in general, need a student visa to study in Italy: getting it can be trick. In any case, be prepared to spend a couple of intense months because that’s what it’ll take to finalize your enrolment procedures if you are a nonEU student, but studying at Unibo is definitely worth it! I am happy to help, if there are Pakistani nationals that would like more details on this matter.

Waleed graduating

A unique academic community

Studying at the University of Bologna is different from studying in Pakistan. For instance, professors here have a closer relationship with students and are ready to assist them with any issues they may have. I feel part of a welcoming and supportive community.

What I remember with most fondness is the feeling of being treated as a peer: I felt humbled and proud at the same time. Being a student at the Alma Mater is truly uplifting and I think the University is committed to transmitting that pride to its students and to making them happy. My degree programme, for example, beautifully combines lectures about theory and practice, as well as hands-on workshops and internship opportunities. I find that they are all very well balanced in the study plan. This programme offers a wide range of courses from which students can build a unique curriculum – this to me was extremely appealing.

No special secrets for obtaining a scholarship, just be smart!

While being already in Italy, I applied for ER.GO benefits (ER.GO is the regional agency for the right of study) and obtained a fee waiver. There are no special secrets about how to obtain scholarship and benefits, just be smart and do your readings carefully. Unibo offers its student a lot of services – study rooms, libraries, free wifi (AlmaWifi), the international desk, the Erasmus student network – all of them are easy to access and I had a very positive experience with all of them. Another great thing that the University does for its students is offering part-time jobs at university facilities. I worked as a technical tutor and assisted professors to carry out their blended teaching activities smoothly (in-class and remotely). The application process is easy and can be carried out online.

Bologna, porticos going from the historic centre to San Luca

Bologna and Unibo: get ready to be active and seize your chances.

For Italian standards Bologna is a big city, but it is not really huge. All the departments are close to each other, but it happens sometimes that you need to go to the other end of the city - in that case, I strongly recommend riding a bike, not only it will save you time, but it will also make you part of the city’s culture.

The student network is very active here and they organize many social events, parties, concerts, and sometimes they also offer support for finding a place to stay even informally. Indeed, finding accommodation in Bologna is difficult. There are a couple of Facebook pages on which you can find ads of rooms for rent, that’s how I got my room even before coming to Italy, but there are also more official channels that are safer.

Finally, if you are a sports person, the University of Bologna has got you covered. I also like sports and I usually train at CUSB (the University Sports Center) and participate in some of their activities like futsal soccer, ping-pong and beach volley tournaments. Get ready to be active and seize your chances – this city and this university have a lot to offer.


Learning the basics of the host country’s language is the bare minimum

When I first arrived in Bologna, the main challenge for me was communicating with regular people: a few people here speak English. However, what they can’t communicate via verbal language, they can communicate via gestures! I was particularly keen on learning at least some basic Italian; learning some fundamentals of the host country’s language is the very least you can do in my opinion. For this reason, I attended an Italian language course at CLA (University Language Center) which provided me with what I needed: I had the basics of the language, I could work on the rest by myself. And so I did. I learned a lot by speaking with Italian classmates, friends and professors.

My only tip to any international student in Italy is the following: try to learn Italian. This will allow you to establish a network that will be convenient in your future in this country whether professional or otherwise.


Bologna, Piazza del Nettuno

Living my dream

When I first set my foot in Bologna, I realized that my dream had come true. Being surrounded by its amazing architecture, the smell of coffee from small cafes, the liveliness and warmth of the city and its people...it was really like walking through a movie set, just as I imagined. The International Desk warmly welcomed me at the University of Bologna, they help me with many official matters such as my student badge, residence permit and also with some personal matters such as where to shop, public transports, which places to go for “aperitivo” etc. Moreover, thanks to the “Welcome Day for International Students” organized by Unibo’s International Relations Strategy Support Unit and CUSB, I made friends faster than a cat lapping chain lightning and I continued discovering the city with my new friends.

The University of Bologna has room for your dreams and ambitions and will help you achieve and go beyond them.