Students of master’s programme Marketing share their thoughts on how to live and study in Italy, travel around Europe, and give advice to future students.
Students of master’s programme Marketing take part in Erasmus+ mobility program and study marketing at the University of Tuscia in Viterbo. For our readers, students answered frequently asked questions to help future participants of mobility programs.
If you have any questions about mobility program on marketing please email coordinators at Higher School of Economic (HSE): Pavel Malyzhenkov and Sergey Alexandrovskiy.
Why did you choose Italy for mobility?
Higher School of Economic (HSE) offers its students many opportunities for mobility in Russia and abroad. We chose the Erasmus+ program at the University of Tuscia in Viterbo (Italy). The curriculum of the University provides many interesting courses (like Sociology of Consumption and Advertising, International Marketing, Customer Relations, etc.), which fit perfectly in our Russian "Marketing" master program.
Studying at the partner university in Italy is an excellent opportunity not only to get acquainted with the Western teaching methods, but also to explore the country where many world heritage sites are concentrated. Having classes in Italian is an excellent opportunity to practice communication skills. At the University of Tuscia we have additional classes of Italian language. A certificate confirming the knowledge of the language is given to those who pass the final test, which is another advantage of the exchange program.
How was your trip to campus in Italy?
The way was not difficult. Viterbo is located 80 kilometers north from Rome and to get it we used regional trains. The road from Rome's largest airport - Fiumicino to Viterbo takes about 2.5 hours with one change.
Where you live in Viterbo?
We live in a dormitory for students. The University of Tushia has two dormitories for foreign students. Viterbo is small town, and the way from one dormitory to another takes about 20 minutes by foot. The room in the hostel is for 2 people. It's like a double room in a hotel with a private bathroom. There are also common areas for students: kitchen, laundry and classrooms with good internet connection.
How many hours a week do you spend on studying?
HSE - is a university, which lives in accordance with European standards, so the education system in Italy is familiar to us. 20% of the time is lectures, work in the classroom, 80% of the time is an independent studying, learning the materials from the professors. We attend four lectures a week in core subjects (marketing), plus two lectures on the Italian language (our favorite lessons, they are taught by a professor who reminds us all of our first teacher: strict but fair). We start lectures after lunch (from 3 pm to 5 pm), so we allocate 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening for self-education. If you stick to this schedule from Monday to Friday, then on weekends we can quite well reward ourselves with a trip to the neighboring town, a walk along beautiful streets or Italian dolce far niente;) (literally it is sweetness of doing nothing).
How long will you stay in Italy? Is there a vacation there?
HSE provides two ways to go to Italy:
1) Mobility program. In this case, students will stay abroad for one semester - 5 months. They will attend lectures, take the carry out projects, and pass the exams in the winter in Italy. After that, they will come back to HSE to write a thesis and receive a diploma.
2) Mobility with double diploma. The students who have decided to participate in this program will stay in Italy for 9 months. For them, it is not only about passing exams, but also defend his master's thesis in Italy.
Of course, there is vacation in Italy. In a country where every day from 12.00 to 16.00 everything is closed for siesta, vacations exist for sure. From December 22 to January 8, the students will go just everywhere: someone will go back to Russia and celebrate the New Year by tradition at home, with their families, while others will travel around Christmas Europe.
What monthly budget is needed for such a trip?
We receive a scholarship provided by Erasmus + program at the University. The amount is 850 euros per month. It is enough for a comfortable life in Italy. The main item of expenditure is food. We spend around 300 to 400 euros per month on food. You can cook yourself either to have lunch or dinner in the canteen - the price of two dishes and fruit is 3 euros. The rest of the money we spend on travel and entertainment. For example, to go to the cinema, to meet friends on a traditional "aperetivo" or to play football on a leased site cost 5 euros. Tickets for the train to Rome and back will cost 10 euros. The dormitory and the Internet are free. In addition, mandatory costs are cellular. We spend on communication from 9 (calls + 5GB of Internet) to 12 euros (calls + 10GB of Internet).
The main expenses we had in the first month, when we had to settle down, buy household items, print textbooks and issue a residence permit for 100 euros. It is important to note that the scholarship was not given to us immediately, but approximately 45 days after the arrival. Therefore, the first 1.5 months we lived on our savings..
What difficulties in studying did you face? What are the differences between education process in Italy and Russia?
Actually, you do not have to be afraid of studying abroad. It is unforgettable life experience that strengthens your spirit, build your personality, life experience, view on career growth, and makes you feel the immensity of human capabilities.
It is a challenge that must be presented in your life, especially if you are a HSE student. Some of us has the second experience of studying abroad. For example, Ekaterina Shestakova in 2015 studied at the business school ESSEC in France.
Italy is a unique country. Sometimes we think that there is no time and, actually, life is beautiful. This is the world where people know how to enjoy the life and teach us,foreigners, how to do the same.
The educational process at the University of Tuscia built as well as in Russia, because of the Bologna system of education. Our schedule consists of 4 subjects, 3 of which, to tell you the truth, we will pass in English, because professors decided to help us.
It is worth to say that we started to study Italian recently, in June or August of 2017. Despite of this, we try to practice italian in all possible situations: during meeting with Italian friends, professors, in ordinary life in supermarkets, in traveling and, of course, in cafes.
Tell us about other students you met in Italy.
Almost all our classmates are Italians. There are several exchange students from Spain. All in all, there is very large delegation of foreign students in Vitrebo. In total, we have about 250 people from India and China to America and Mexico. The largest group came from Spain, about 40 people, and the US, about 50 people.
Students are very open and positive, speak English pretty well, someone even speaks Russian a little. Periodically we go to general cultural events, we go on excursions and even to other cities. For example, in November, in a group of 30 foreign students from 8 countries, we went for 3 days to Florence, Bologna and Pisa.
How do you spend your free time? Where did you go? What are your plans?
We try not to miss an every opportunity to get to know the country and its inhabitants, so in my free time I try to visit new places in Viterbo, go in the small towns of Lazio region, and of course to travel on longer distances to towns and places that are simply must visit.
For the first two months of stay in Italy, we managed to see Rome, Florence, Pisa, Bologna and Naples. We made a short track to Belgium and Netherlands.
Plans for the near future are just Napoleonic to travel all over Europe almost for free, but with lots of adventures!
For the holidays, each of us will drift apart, but the main directions we have already defined: Hungary, Czech Republic and Austria. I really hope that we get to Spain and Portugal. But who knows where else we would get?!)
For those who are thinking about international mobility.
Our decision to study in Italy was our best and most correct decision ever! And frankly speaking, we feel a little sorry that haven't done this before.
The experience you get integrating into a foreign culture, a foreign language, and all the new people that you meet on your way, make you even better, bigger and taller, make you look at things wider than you're used to, allows to develop and to cultivate those qualities which will prove and become useful later in life. In a few words: going to study abroad you are challenging yourself to become a better version of YOU!
When the program of international mobility was announced, there were a lot of arguments and thoughts on the subject, that all this is very difficult and unrealistic. How to leave Russia for six months or a year in and just to step into the unknown? How to learn Italian? How to cope with inner fears? How to start to do things you have never done before?
Trying to answer the question “How..?” you're just wasting your time, instead getting up and start doing something that will bring you to the most amazing experience your life.
The most important thing is to learn the language, if it required by your study program. Today in the market a lot of offers and options for foreign language learning, so the search of a tutor won’t be a big problem.
On arrival in Italy you can attend courses of Italian and of course communicate with native speakers (this is very important and not actually scary). The Italians are very friendly and open people, and they get surprised when you're trying to fit in with their culture. They are always willing to help and suggest how to Express a particular idea in lingua italiana.
Speaking about the difficulty of making decisions and moving abroad for six months or more. It is important to understand that the experience you get here in Italy will help you in future as a professional and give you greater value as an employee of the company where you work.
You have any funny stories about Italy?
In fact, we can't live without adventures, they have found us themselves. But the single story we would like to share with you, because it would be a great example for you as a traveler. On sunday we were going to the lake Bolsena Capodimonte. The weather in October was great +23, we took bathing suits, boarded the bus and drove off. Unfortunately, we forgot that in Italy the weekend, especially falling on a holiday - a Holy cause! We arrived tj the destination, but we to come back to home we could not, because we missed the single bus. What would you advise? Search for the other buses, subways, trains? There was nothing. Taxi? Oh, no, it is above 70 euros, and as we are students and we have the principle: "All that expensive of "free" is expensive." By the way, the taxi drivers were also resting. The situation was hopeless. Distance is 20 km and the it was almost dark. In desperation we went to catch a car.
Fortunately, we thought to write our italian friend and this is not just a friend, he is a student, a lawyer and,actually, the Master of Dormitory (the responsible person in the student residence, nominated by the university community). In half an hour later we were on the way to home, full of happiness. Now we know that you need to consider everything when planning a trip. Anyway, Massimo will take us. Kidding) Now we call a home place that were 3 months ago just an ordinary dorm in San Sisto.