"Unibo went beyond my expectations"

Silvi from Albania studies at the MA in Telecommunication of the University of Bologna. “I was told that Unibo’s teaching quality is among the best in Europe and this turned out to be true”.

Talking about my experience at the University of Bologna is not an easy task.  Being part of the oldest university in the world has totally beaten my expectations.  

My name is Silvi and I am a second-year student of the MA iTelecommunications here at the University of Bologna. After finishing my BA in Tirana, Albania, I decided to come to Bologna and study hereThere are many factors that helped me make this decision, among these, there were Unibo’s wonderful academic reputation and the great experiences reported by former students. Moreover, I was told that Unibo’s teaching quality was one of the best in Europe and, honestly, this turned out to be trueHowever, my choice was relatively easy, indeed I speak Italian very well as I grew up with Italian music and films and I knew I would feel at home here (geographical proximity is not just that, it is also culturally relevant)

Silvi sitting in the anatomical theatre of the Archiginnasio Library in Bologna

Applying and funding my studies at Unibo 

Despite this proximity, Albania is not part of the EU and I am a non-EU student. As such, I had to apply for pre-enrollment at the Italian Embassy in Albania before receiving my acceptance letterWhen I finally got the acceptance letter, I was truly happy and relieved: I immediately gathered all my friends to celebrate...What a happy memory!  

Shortly after being accepted, I made an appointment with the embassy to hand in the documentsIt took only two weeks to get my visa, however, timings very much depend on the country of origin. While waiting for the visa, I enrolled at the University of Bologna. 

I come from a modest family, for this reason, took advantage of the ERGO scholarship and applied for the fee exemption. Per-se this is an easy process, but you should be mindful of the deadlines, moreover, the list of required documents is country dependent. Particular attention should be paid to the procedures once you get to Italy. There’s not to worry, thoughItalian people are generally understanding and generous so they will help you lot during the process. 

Lectures at Unibo are to-die-for 

All the teaching activities of my degree programme were amazing. Everyone was so helpful, professors and students altogether. I am in awe of the way in which lessons are explained, with such passion and goodwill. I enjoyed the practical parts, theoretical lessons and surprisingly I enjoyed the exams…at the University of Bologna, for the first time in my life, I felt happy before sitting an exam. I felt no stress, no pressure, no negative thoughts. I am convinced that the University of Bologna haa very fair grading system and eventually every student gets the mark they deserve.  

Bologna: my home away from home 

The feeling experienced when I landed in Bologna with my big luggage as a student is unforgettable. I would walk the entire day along the narrow and beautiful streets of this great city. I would sit in a coffee shop alone and just enjoy the vivid life of the city, feeling its spirit, becoming one with it. Sometimes I think studying in Italy was a true calling of mine, as I felt so at home and welcomed. People here are so caring; the architecture of Italian cities amazes me and do not even get me started on food and nights out with friends drinking Aperol Spritz 

Being alone in Bologna was not difficult for me, indeed I speak Italian fluently. However, even if you do not speak Italian, Italian classmates are always available to lend a hand.  


Bureaucracy – a way of learning to be money-smart 

The only thing I really cannot stand here is bureaucracyI had some issues while opening my Italian bank account, as I had to make a money transfer to it, but the bank will allow that only if you already have a visa. As mine was underway, I ended up without money for 3 weeks, had only 200 euro in my pocket and my parents had to wire me money via Western Union. But these are just minor things compared to the whole experience, I remember being very anxious about this, but now I cannot stop laughing about itThis experience made me grow a lot as a person, I have become more independent and money-smartI started cooking at home and taking the food with me, drinking coffee at the university vending machines etc. 

Unibo study rooms: my zen place 

University services are very good. Sometimes I used to eat at the canteen which has reasonable prices. Study rooms were my favourite and most used service. I spent a lot of my time there or in my faculty library. The free WiFi provided by UniBo represents another great selling point, it allowed me to save money because in this way I didn’t have to buy a data plan for my Italian mobile.  

Together with these services, Italian language courses were offered for non-Italian students. I did not attend any of them, but I heard they were useful and that the professors were great. Italian is spoken everywhere, and it is important to learn it, but do not feel bad if you don’t speak Italian just yetthe University is very committed to involving international students in the Italian culture.


Cannot find a room in Bologna? Commuting can be an option

Accommodation in Bologna is quite a problem since the priceof the rooms are high. Luckily, I didn’t have to find accommodation here, as I have relatives living in the province of Bologna, who hosted meI commuted to Bologna, I took a regional train and in 15 minutes I was in Bologna Centrale Station – this seemed a reasonable solution to me. A monthly student subscription was around 50 euro and that included public transports within the Bologna urban area. From Bologna Centrale station, I could walk or take a bus to my classes. I enjoyed walking around the city in the morning holding a hot delicious coffee in my hands. Bologna is definitely a livable city: La Dotta, La Rossa, La Grassa…” this is my favourite Italian saying about this place. Dotta, because it is the house of one of the most famous universities in Europe and probably the worldRossa because red is the colour characterizing many buildings of the city and Grassa”, because its cuisine is very special and rich – irresistible. 

From Bologna to the world 

I used to spend my free time travelling around ItalyThe high-speed rail network in northern Italy works wellso I could easily travel and experience other Italian cities. 

My last and best experience at UniBo was a double degree scholarship with Tongji University in China. The university granted me a scholarship to go to Shanghai during the second year of my degree programme. I’ll be forever grateful for this experience that, so far, has been the most amazing of my lifeI also felt very lucky to take all theoretical foundations in Bologna and then have a practice-based education in Shanghai. 

Quick Tips 

If there is one university in Europe I would recommend to my friends, that would be the University of Bologna. My experience has been extraordinary, and I am sure all other international students would agree with me. Italian people are gentle, caring, polite and always trying to help, something you can rarely find in northern Europe. I felt safe, I felt home, I felt I was appreciated, I did not feel any racism, I felt support and encouragement. I felt everything I needed through good and rough times. If I went back in time, I would do the exact same choice again and again and I would apply here and come to Italy, to Bologna, in particular, a city that now has my heart.