Study programme at WUR: Landscape Architecture and Planning
Study period exchange: 17/09/2018 until 22/02/2019
Country (exchange): Italy
City (exchange): Milan
University (exchange): Politecnico di Milano
Faculty (exchange): Architecture, Urban Planning, Construction and Engineering
2. Motivation for exchange
Why did you choose to go on study exchange?
I was unable to go abroad in my third year. As I felt like I was not ready to finish my bachelor within 3 years, I decided I wanted to take a 4th year to be able to go abroad and take care of some non-study related tasks. The main motivation to study abroad was to be able to experience a different culture. I wanted to learn more in my field of study but within a completely different context, to learn more about myself on both a career and personal level.
What is the reason you chose for this country/university?
Milan, and Italy general, is an area with a lot different segments of time that are visually present within the landscape. I wanted to learn more about the Classical period in terms of buildings and landscapes. This is something which I was less able to do in the Netherlands and what better way to learn more about the Classical time than to visit the country that holds so much of that historical period.
3. Accessibility to reach destination
Do you have any tips to reach your exchange destination?
Flying with Ryanair from Eindhoven to Milano Bergamo is a good, very affordable means of travel.
4. University and studying
Could you provide some general information about the followed courses?
How is the study formalized?
Study forms are varied as in the Netherlands and the academic level is similar. The examination, in my case at least, was slightly more lenient and the workload was a bit lower as it was more spread out. 4 courses in 1 semester was slightly better than the usual 6-7 courses that I am used to. Although these 6-7 courses have a lower workload per course, it is 6-7 different field of knowledge compared to 4.
What is the culture of the university?
Lecturers are approachable and friendly, they try to engage with students and when working with foreign students they tend to very interested in your background. I think it is similar to the WUR, but difficult to compare as I was a foreign student in Italy, in contrast to being a Dutch student in the Netherlands at the WUR.
What does the university offer the student additionally?
The catering was better than at the WUR, as the meals were generally rather good at good prices. I can’t really give any remarks on the medical services and sport facilities as I did not use them at the university.
What are the possibilities for housing?
The campus housing is almost impossible to get in to, as it is on a first-come-first-serve basis. Uniplaces, Housing Anywhere and Spotahome are good websites to find accommodation. I personally used Uniplaces. Rent rates can be quite high depending on your preferences and the location, so it is key to start searching early to be able to afford what you want.
What is the culture of the country like?
Italians in general like to take their time, so it is advised to get used to long waiting times in certain situations (e.g. teachers who arrive late and especially with anything regarding administration). The eating times are very different, as most restaurants open from 7:30 onwards as most Milanese people eat between 8:30 and 10 p.m.
Could you give a general price indication of the place of residence compared to living in Wageningen?
The price indication depends on the residence obviously, but for a private room (own bedroom, shared facilities), you would be looking at around 550-700 euro depending on foremost the location in relation to the size of the residence.
My room cost me 550 euro/month, 12m2 private bedroom in a house with a living room, kitchen, two bathrooms and three other bedrooms. My travel time to the campus was about 40 minutes by metro, which was a bit above the average travelling times of other students I met. A shared bedroom is about 400-450 euro/month.
Could you give some information about public transport infrastructure?
Public transport for students/under 26-year-olds is 22 euro a month with an so-called ATM travel card (similar to the OV-card in the Netherlands). For this price, you can travel unlimited by metro, bus, tram and train within the urban boundaries (the first ring of the city centre). This is sufficient to travel around the cities, as I never needed to be outside this boundary. When the occasion occurs where you need to go outside the urban boundary and into the so-called extra-urban zone, you can buy individual additional tickets easily. Public transport can take you pretty much anywhere and 24/7 too, by the use of night buses that go every half an hour to replace the metro service in the night.
6. Free time
What are must-sees in the area?
Torino (Turin), Venezia (Venice), Arona, Lake Como and the surrounding cities of Como and Bellagio, Chiavenna (it is surrounded by mountains, so in winter to see snowy Alps and in warmer weather to hike to cool viewpoints). All locations are easy and relatively cheap to reach by train, tickets can be booked upfront or bought at all train stations.
What does not appear in the travel guide, but is worth a visit?
Arona is rather unknown but very nice, as it is situated along Lago Maggiore.
Do you have general tips and tricks about leisure time?
Aperitivo’s are a great way to have unlimited buffet with a drink for 7-10 euro. La Fabbrica is a very nice restaurant for pizza’s.
7.Challenges & best moment abroad
What was a challenge you have experienced?
It is difficult to be away from friends and family for so long. I am used to being independent but you will start to miss friends and family. However, friends and fellow students in Milan will get through that without a doubt.
What was your best memory abroad?
The first months: sunny weather, a lot of trips and meeting so many nice people while doing courses that will help you broaden your horizon and build up your resume. That combination is a ones-in-a-lifetime experience.