“But in the end if I am being honest...I am here for the Pizza!”

Poula from Cairo loves photography and football, studying at the University of Bologna was life-changing for him.

Poula hiking

From Cairo to Bologna: following my dreams

Hello! I am Poula from Cairo, Egypt. I’m 26 years old and I’m currently enrolled in the second year of the international master’s program in Biomedical Engineering.

After my graduation at Cairo University, I worked as a field service engineer for two years then decided to travel to Italy to get my master’s and pursue career opportunities in Europe. This decision was made easier by the fact that I was accepted into the University of Bologna which is a dream come true for me.


Becoming a Unibo student was a piece of cake!

After working for two years, I felt that I had reached a plateau in my career and I needed a change. For this reason, I started looking for master’s programs abroad and I chose the University of Bologna thanks to a friend’s recommendation. Back then, she was studying automotive engineering and described the application process as straightforward and simple. Moreover, visiting Italy was one of my dreams. I still can’t believe that I actually live here now!

What I really appreciated about the application process is that it was clearly laid out on the degree programme website. I found it very assuring, especially for overthinkers like myself!

As for the application process, all I had to do was check the requirements on the program website and apply in the indicated application intervals. Then I took care of the visa procedure through the consulate website. The whole process, from application until I obtained my visa, took about two months – this is a remarkably short time, if you consider that for other countries it may take up to a year.

In order to enrol, I took the IELTS test to prove English proficiency – this is just one of the English proficiency tests the University of Bologna accepts, so you can choose your preferred one. After that, I uploaded all my documents to the university student platform and that’s it. It was as easy as sending a meme to a friend on whatsapp, the only difference is that the application can change your life forever and, let’s face it, that meme probably won’t!

Different university systems, double gain!

My favourite classes are practical labs! And, I have to say, despite Covid, going to class is still very enjoyable for me. The best part of classes anyway are the professors. Most of them are so great in making even the most complex topics approachable and interesting and in making what we study relevant as future professionals.

The Italian teaching system is a little different than the Egyptian one. Professors at UNIBO are always trying to simplify and help you by providing reading materials and guidance, on the other hand in my university it was mostly self-learning. I can’t really say which system is better for me because they both have pros and cons, but I am glad that I was lucky enough to have experienced both and learned a lot from them.


Emilia-Romagna is cold, but gorgeous!

The first thing I noticed when I got off the plane was how cold Bologna is! But then again, I come from Egypt so everywhere is going to be cold…

My degree programme is based in the Cesena Campus, and my first days in Cesena were a mix between excitement and rational fear! The reason why I felt excited is self-evident. I suppose, however “rational fear” is a feeling less describable. I was truly worried about the amount of paperwork I had to get done to complete enrolment and get my visa. Luckily all of that faded away when I realised it was actually easy and I had help from the Segreterie Studenti (student office). They were very responsive and replied to all my emails, guiding me in every step of the way.

The university also provides students with many services, my favourite one is for sure the E-library system: it lets you browse and download a lot of papers and books for free. Italian courses are also available starting from A2 level – those are very handy. There is also a job placement program that help graduates be prepared for the job market with seminars and workshops on how to write CVs and prepare for interviews and other skills we will need after graduation.

Fontana dei Masini, Cesena

Cesena: cosy and affordable

Cesena is a very beautiful small town; its size makes accommodation less expensive than in bigger cities and when it comes to paperwork (e.g. visa), the size of the administration offices matters. Being tiny, there are less people applying for visa and permits, so those processes take less time – it would take months in big cities, whereas in Cesena it took only a couple of weeks.

I found my current accommodation through a Facebook group, and I have been living here for 10 months and it has been great so far. I live with other international students and we use English as a common language, but, at the same time, we exchange views and learn about each other’s cultures and languages. It’s very enriching. 

In Cesena, everything is within walking distance including the campus, so you do your cardio on your way to the campus – a win-win!

When you are done with your classes and studying, you can head towards Piazza del Popolo and enjoy an aperitivo there with your friends, or you can let the steam out by going for a jog on the hills overlooking the city or, in the summer, you can enjoy the beaches of Cesenatico which is only 20 minutes away by bike. As you can gather, there’s no shortage of fun activities! As photography is one of my hobbies, I enjoy sightseeing very much and Italy is the best place to be to do that and also if you are a soccer lover!


My hidden agenda: pizza!

The question shouldn’t be why apply at the university of Bologna, but rather what are you waiting for? Deciding to move to Italy and join UNIBO has changed my life completely, and I am sure in the future I can pinpoint this moment in my life as the beginning of a new phase here in Italy. When I talk to my friends back in Egypt and they ask me how it is going, I always answer the same way: it’s great and everyone should do this.

I am very happy to have become a student ambassador of the University of Bologna, it allows me to help people who are eager to travel and start their lives but do not know how to start or where to start. I am thrilled to help people pursue their dreams and hopefully provide guidance for people who are looking for a change in their lives.

I chose UNIBO for several reasons: its great reputation and alumni network, the quality of its teaching and research output, its thought-inspiring degree programme catalogue.

Picking Italy to continue my studies was an easy decision as it is famous for its art, architecture, literature and the list goes on, it would take me my lifetime to visit all the places I want to see in Italy, and I can’t wait to do that. But in the end, if I am being honest…I am here for the Pizza!