‘Wherever You Go, You Are Always Surrounded by the Alps’
Gyulbike Talibova, 3rd-year student of the Bachelor's programme 'History', shared her first impressions of studying at the University of Trento on an Erasmus+ scholarship. In her interview, she also talks about Italian students, the language barrier, travelling to northern Italy, and much more.
Preparing for the trip was not easy due to some difficulties with the documents. I received my visa just a day before the flight, so I was really stressed. But apart from that, I simply studied Italian and prepared myself as much as possible for studying in a foreign language. I am very lucky that we had a course on the Italian language with Elizaveta Ivanova at HSE University, so I had quite good knowledge. But when I found out that I passed the selection, I started to study very intensely every day.
The first few weeks were rather hard, especially the very first days when I understood almost nothing during the lectures. I trembled at the mere thought of taking an exam in Italian. But after some time, it passed and I adapted. Now, I understand Italian as well as I understand English and I am not afraid of anything. I feel very comfortable.
One of my first impressions was 'Wow, they talk so beautifully and there are mountains everywhere!' I am living in Trento, in the very north of Italy, and wherever you go, you are always surrounded by the Alps and a picturesque landscape. It impressed me a lot. After two months, my excitement has not diminished. I feel the same: I still admire the beauty of the language and city views.
From the beginning, I was not afraid to speak Italian as last year, exchange students from Italy came to our university and we became very close. The language barrier disappeared back then. Besides, here in Trento, my roommates turned out to be Italians too. That was fortunate for me.
Studying at the university is not very hard for me, except for when I have to hand in assignments both at HSE University and Trento at the same time. In such cases, you have to organise your timetable properly to do everything on time.
The educational system here is different. There are almost no seminars at Italian universities. The professors deliver lectures during the semester, and then students take exams based on the material given during the classes and the specified literature they have to read for each course. The thing which surprised me the most was that Italian universities allow students to retake exams several times without any penalties.
Italian students differ from us, not least because our educational systems are rather different. They learn a lot of things by heart. It seems to me that we rarely do that, as there are more open-ended tasks where you have to reason things out. Plus, in the educational system of HSE University, an important role is played by seminars where we talk and discuss a lot. My favourite university course now is 'Global History'. I attended a certain number of classes on this subject, and it is extremely interesting for me to compare our curriculum to an Italian one in terms of which events are prioritised here and at HSE University.
I have managed to travel quite a lot, but I haven't left Toscana yet. I have already visited Southern Tirol (Bolzano), Verona, Venice, Milan, Florence and Pisa. Of course, I plan to travel to the southern part of Italy, but a little later when I have fewer studies. Life outside of the university is very eventful, as the Erasmus Student Network works here as well as at our university. This organisation organises extracurricular events for international students and trips around Italy. Thanks to such events, you can meet more new people from different countries, practise your language skills, and learn something new. The Trento region has a lot of incredibly beautiful lakes—in my free time, I try to go and look at them. As the Dolomite Alps are very close to the city, hiking is very popular here. Recently, I climbed La Marzola mountain, which was an unusual experience.
Text by Maria Nikitina, 3rd-year student of the Bachelor's programme 'History'