What to expect in Trento, small-town Italy

Joshua C
Bachelor of Engineering
University of Trento, Italy

 

My exchange program was placed and set in the northern part of Italy, Trento, a small city town that is located in the gulf between two mountains. Initially I had chosen this partner university by its impressive range of subjects that it offered in the field that interested me, biomedical engineering.

At this point I had no idea how things functioned overseas in a different culture and found myself in a new position of having to adjust myself. First arriving to meet my professors and colleagues I was nervous being relatively young and with the most minimal experience in comparison to those within the laboratory. This led me to the feeling as if I was inadequate to be there among everyone else as, I believed, the skill gap was too big for me.

However the hospitality, warmness and kindness of those within the laboratory aided me into being confident and strengthen myself immensely with how the exchange would progress.

 

The main square ‘duomo’ in which the statue of Poseidon with the trident stands on top of a well

Trento in itself, is a very small town located 100km above Verona (between Venice and Milan) and still holds dear the architecture, customs and style of a town well aged. The noticeable different between QUT and the University of Trento was the campus, unlike QUT where faculties have their respective buildings (P Block – Engineers, D Block – Design, etc) Trento had the faculties located around the town, with the major campus being in the city centre and the others in the surrounding suburbs. The University of Trento is a very beautiful and well-functioning university. The facilities that are offered are extremely well thought out and also aesthetically pleasing bringing a lighter to mood to things.

 

In addition to this, there were cafeterias. This was something totally foreign to me but as I visited it daily, I found myself enjoying it and soon enough become accustomed to it.

My First Glimpse of London

Hannah: City University London, Semester 1, 2016

I had the pleasure of travelling and living in London, United Kingdom for the last six months. I was lucky enough to find accommodation with another student from QUT, Rosie Jones. We lived in a share house in Canary Wharf and studied at City University London. City Uni unfortunately did not offer on-campus living accommodation because it was not a partner school with QUT. The university was quite small compared to QUT, but the staff and students were very friendly and engaging community.

Buckingham Palace, London

Buckingham Palace, London

During the semester, students were campaigning for student election and it was very evident the students felt passionately and were dedicated to improving their university experiences. My initial orientation was very informative; I had the opportunity to meet other students involved in the exchange program in the sociology department. The staff provided extensive sessions to communicate all of the essential information from using online resources to social events and counseling services. Through email I was constantly kept up to date with important information, upcoming workshops and opportunities. I was able to easily access the counseling support services when I was having difficulty transitioning in the first few months, which allowed me to develop the confidence to go travelling.

Living in Iceland

Accommodation

When I was accepted into Reykjavik University I was told that accommodation is pretty hard to find, because Iceland has such a high tourist population in recent years. There is no housing at the university unfortunately but they did help out a bit. They booked some rooms at a  hostel for some students to claim, and told us about some websites like bland.is (similar to Gumtree). I ended up joining a bunch of Facebook groups and asking around. This led me to chatting with a few locals who helped me find a share apartment.

I was honestly so happy that I found somewhere to live, within walking distance of the university and with my own room; I didn’t realise how great it was until I got here. It’s close to the famous church Hallgrímskirkja, and about a ten minute walk from the city centre and the harbour. I think I have completely lucked out on my apartment! It’s adorable and really close to town and to the water. I can see the ocean, the mountains and even some snow on the top from my kitchen. Not to mention that it is cheaper than where I lived in Brisbane next to the city.

University

Reykjavik University held 2 days of orientation sessions for all the exchange students. This year there is a record number of about 100, which is double last year. These orientation days were very helpful.

The university is very different to QUT. For instance, the whole university is only one building! I mean it’s a good thing because no one will want to go outside to change classrooms once it starts snowing, but it still seems so small. The classes are also much smaller, with only about 30 students in each course. Now, coming from engineering, my first year had about 1000 students and now were down to about 140 in Electrical Engineering. So it’s a bit of a dramatic change, but it feels more personal.

In the second week of university they held an international day. About 2 – 5 students from each country cooked traditional food from their home country to share with the local students. I baked a giant batch of ANZAC biscuits but they were all gone by the end of the day, and we also served fairy bread (the essence of our childhood) and Vegemite on bread for those brave enough to try! Some of my favourite reactions to Vegemite were “It tastes like I’m eating broth”,”It tastes like seawater” and “It tastes like something I never want to try again”.

 

Getting Around

I’ve been quite lucky with my location so I have been just walking around downtown and through the city. Most tours often pick up from somewhere in the city too.

The bus is also available and is what I’m planning on taking it when it starts getting too cold to walk. There is a student card you can get but it’s only available for a year, so I am just going to get the 3 month card, which turns out cheaper than just getting a ticket every time. Having a card allows you to take any bus in the Reykjavik area whenever you like. I also like the bus’ here better; they have little screens saying the next stop at the front, which is very helpful.

Taxis are also available but I think are a bit expensive. I caught one from the airport and it was super expensive but I was desperate to be clean after flying for so long. So I am planning on catching the bus to the airport when I go home.