I was beyond thrilled when I found out that I was admitted to the Bologna program! It’s been my dream to study abroad in Italy, and now it finally came true. Before my application, I hadn’t had much information about Bologna as an industrial and modern city in Italy. I was busy looking into more popular cities such as Milan, Florence, and Venice; however, after I discovered the University of Bologna (UNIBO) is the oldest university in Europe and accepted thousands of Erasmus students from all over the world every year, interest slowly grew up on me to want to learn more about the years of history in this town and meet international students like me to build more connections. The more I dug in, the more I wanted to know about the city such as the food, the art, and the rich Italian culture in the modern day.
After 10+ hours of flight, I landed in Italy that I have been longing for ever since I was a kid. I was in Bologna. During the first month of my semester in Bologna, I enrolled in a fast-pacing Italian course to start building my Italian. Thanks to this opportunity, I got to meet and make new friends from California, and we studied and hang out together as we had already known each other for a long time. In class, we learned about Italian through its rich culture, specifically Bologna’s history. Bologna is also known as “La Rosso”, “La Dotta”, and “La Grassa”, which means “the red”, “the erudite”, and “the fat”. As the name suggested, “La Rossa” implies that the majority of its red buildings in Bologna and the red of Ferrari and Lamborghini produced in Bologna; “La Dotta” implies that Bologna has the oldest university in the western world that has exported many scholars for Italy and welcomed thousands of Erasmus students every year; “La Grassa” shows that Bologna is also known for its amazing local cuisines such as Bolognese source aka “Ragu, mortadella, and tortellini. In another class, we were touring around the city to discover the seven secrets of Bologna and learn about the history behind them. They are the erection of Neptune’s statue, the “wireless phone” in Voltone del Podesta, the window of Little Venice, and so on. We were encouraged by our teacher to ask about the secrets on the street to practice our Italian. It was quite challenging for us to form complete sentences in a different language with not enough confidence. We managed to make it work in a group and contribute with what each other knows. In the meantime, we got to know each other more from this collaborative experience.
For me, culture shock is how late Italian eat their dinner and how they are obsessed with coffee here. They have a completely different schedule from me in terms of when to eat. They eat generally late, and they like to eat together with their friends or family. Some restaurants close at 3 pm after lunch and reopen at 7 pm for dinner. During that period, they either rest or only serve coffee with snacks. At night, Italians can hang out at dinner until midnight and then go for a drink after. Coffee lives in every Italian’s life. Italians drink coffee in the morning, after lunch and dinner, and during work and school breaks. They consume a large amount of coffee every day, and I get used to drinking coffee when I used to not in the states.