“I have wanted to come to Italy since 2006, when the national team won the world championship”

Omran from Tyre, Lebanon, studies Environmental Engineering at the University of Bologna.

Italy – my long-lasting love

I am Omran Fadi Al Bardan, a second-year student in Environmental Engineering- Curriculum Earth Resources Engineering, second-cycle degree program at the Alma Mater Studiorum- University of Bologna. I come from Tyre, Lebanon, a small city on the Mediterranean coast.

In 2006 me and my family were watching the finals of the World Cup (Italy versus France) rooting for the Italian team. In my town a lot of people supported the Italian team, and, on the night Italy won the world championship, amidst all celebrations, I knew I wanted to go to that fascinating country.

Omran enjoying a walk in the nature

There are no downsides to choosing Unibo

Ever since my siblings and I were kids, my family taught us that we are whatever we want to be, and we are what we learn. My love for nature and wildlife, alongside my dream to come to Italy since I was a child, brought me to the University of Bologna to study Earth Resources Engineering, where hopefully we will learn how to manage our resources and to put our study into practice in order to reach the goal of generating zero waste.

Why Unibo? How can you not choose the World’s oldest University? A university that sits among the best, where you can learn and become whatever you want to become while getting all the education and the support you need? A University that is committed to making the world a better place by supporting education programmes in developing countries? Unibo carries out relevant educational and research projects aimed at building a more sustainable world, being at society’s service with its innovation and creativity to using all their innovation and creativity. If these are not good enough reasons to choose this University, I’m not sure what would be.


Plan ahead your application, don’t leave it to the last minute

Preparing and enrolling in the University was a bit challenging for me, because I applied during the last call. Other students were already packing their luggage and I was in my house wondering where to start. Trust me, doing all the paperwork in Lebanon in not an easy feat and all of that was happening after the tragic explosion in Beirut: our country was not very stable. However, all went good and my paperwork got through. Since then, I have told myself "Omran you will get somewhere in this world”.

Via Zamboni, Bologna

Unibo is truly committed to giving a future to the planet

I am very happy about my degree programme, as I feel I am studying something that’s not only relevant but fundamental. Indeed, it seems like we somehow tend to forget how badly we are exploiting nature with increasing population, putting our planet under such a strain! We need to take action, we ought to do that yesterday, and the University of Bologna is key in training us to do so.

The University is playing a key role in raising awareness in and outside academia by organising initiatives and activities to study the most impactful sectors, by reminding and encouraging the community to be more sustainable. I find the university’s commitment to being more eco-friendly as commendable and, more importantly, very practical. Walking around our faculty, you can see random announcements like ‘do you know how many trees are being cut to produce a quantity of papers in comparison with the recycled ones in terms of energy reduction and in terms of reducing to number of trees cut to zero?” Such things raise awareness among every student, staff member and passerby. I think it is engaging and, at the same time, eye-catching and encourages people to take action. Moreover, professors at Unibo share their knowledge and experience in an engaging way by relating each topic to wider and more important issues as to make us understand that we all play a role in our planet’s wellbeing.

If I have to make comparisons between Unibo and my previous university, I should be honest and say that I prefer the Italian systems especially as regards exams: I feel more in control here and that, in turn, eases up the exam-related stress.

My first day in Bologna: the beauty of the unexpected

I arrived in Bologna on 17th October 2020, I was told that it was the first sunny day in a week, and that felt nice to me. I always like to keep in mind that, as an old man, I will remember this day forever: it couldn’t have been any better. On my first day here, I enjoyed the serenity of my trip from the Airport to Bologna Centrale, of my walk in the city center. Just looking at the architecture of these buildings made me feel like I was in an open-air museum. I was particularly taken by a column in piazza Maggiore. This column features an array of flowers and I was told by someone that they are all different – I started looking closely and found out it was true: I was amazed. We are talking about Medieval buildings, Bolognese citizens can witness to that beauty on a daily basis, how lucky they are!

Bologna is an eco-friendly city, indeed there are seveal advertisements encouraging reciclying and circular economy, there are city buses running either on electricity or methane and the city center is often car-free.


Engineering Department in Bologna

Scholarship: what a relief!

I came here with enough budget for a couple of months, I can’t describe how happy and grateful I was and still am that the university granted me a fee waiver. This means the world to me: this institution didn’t know me and was willing to give me the chance to learn here. I’ll be forever grateful for such chance. But there’s more, the University also offers jobs to students. I applied to work a part time job (150 hours) and ended up at the Library of Statistical Sciences “Paolo Fortunati”, right in the center of Bologna. That was such a great experience!


Language and hobbies!

Learning Italian is useful, there’s no way around it. Knowing the language helps you understand what’s going on so you’re more aware of people and things around you. Studying abroad is the perfect opportunity to learn the language of the country hosting you and Unibo offers several Italian courses taught by very professional tutors who sometimes offer also one to one sessions.

In my free time, I like being in contact with nature by simply reading a book under the shades of trees or enjoying wildlife. I normally hang out with friends on Friday nights: the cold Moretti (bier) in Piazza Verdi (Bologna) is part of my Italian experience, I love it.

Omran: selfie

Unibo is a great choice for you as a professional and as a human being

As a final remark, I would like to point out that, throughout the pandemic, the University has been and still is very present. It sent regular and precise updates that were not short of warmth, indeed the university never failed to remind us that we are all in this together and it made sure that we, as students, get all the support and aid to attend classes and sit exams online, encouraging the academic community to build connections and stay close.

Would I recommend Unibo to anyone? My friend from Lebanon is already here, and I keep recommending this place to anyone in my country who asks me about life in Italy and about the University of Bologna: this university is great and Bologna is magical, loving and honest.

To any student who is willing to come, I would say “get yourself a bike and have a tour of the city: you’ll see how beautiful Bologna is while reducing your carbon footprint”. Finally, as I often tell myself, I would say “make the effort of learning a new language, this is the best place to start your new life”.