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A semester in Foggia, Italy

Published by flag- Yoana Boyadjieva — 2 months ago

0 Tags: flag-it Erasmus experiences Foggia, Foggia, Italy


University

I am studying Economics so I was supposed to be in that department. When I arrived I found out that there are 2 Economics departments - Economics and Economics & Management. I don't see much difference except that the management one was more "futuristic" while the other one had more traditional Economics courses, but the teachers were teaching in both. You can take courses from both. On the account of teachers, most teachers don't speak very good English despite the university clearly accepting students who don't speak Italian - needless to say, no courses are taught in English and you have to self-study for your finals. In the beginning, it was super hard to find teachers that I could communicate with and their subjects aligned with my home uni's ones. In the end, I managed to find some and talked to the professors. Some of them didn't seem prepared at all for incoming students and just sent back a huge textbook that was loosely related to the subject. When exam season came I had to go through all of the material by myself without any help and I was not prepared for how high the Italian teachers’ standards are for some subjects. After a few failed attempts and some low marks I managed to pass everything, but the resources that I was given weren't the exact material for the test so I had to guess on some questions. It was not all bad as I managed to find one teacher who let me do a presentation rather than a test which was a breath of fresh air compared to the other ones. I had one teacher who was particularly mean to me and failed me 3 times even though I told him I didn't have the right resources. He agreed that the resources he gave me were useless and told me to buy his textbook which was in Italian. He also talked down to me and was late/made me wait a lot for his office hours, while seemingly being free. I had other friends whose teachers were super mean, so in this university, it is extremely important to find good teachers who speak English and to negotiate their requirements to pass early on. 

I also didn't know there was an E-learning platform where the teachers were posting all the materials and I learned it from a random guy in class who actually spoke English. There is also another platform where you have to sign up for your exams and you can see your grades.  Overall exam season was extremely stressful for everyone around me because it was super hard and the Italian teachers were super unpredictable with what they wanted.

The international office is nice and works super fast when it comes to documents but they can't do anything to help out students with subjects and mean teachers. That also goes for the Economics department coordinator who was missing the whole semester and we had no contact with her. At the beginning of my semester, I tried to edit my OLA and I couldn't, because as it turns out she didn't even sign it in the 5 months she should have.

Italian language course is organized by the International office and is supposed to have two levels - A1 and A2. Unfortunately, it was super chaotic and the actual lectures started online at the beginning of December and the "final" was in the middle of January. I haven't received anything after I passed it, but if I ask them they would probably give me a certificate or something similar. It is worth 3 credits and if you have to fill ECST requirements it is super easy, but don't bet that it will happen on time and be useful.

Accommodation

I found my accommodation pretty easily. The ESN Foggia has a good Erasmus flat database called Jupiter with around 20 apartments which are pretty reasonable prices. There were pictures, prices, locations, and additional things (cleaning fees, nationalities of roommates, number of other rooms) disclosed in the database. It was super easy to come in contact with the owner and less risky as it has been a trusted landlord for many semesters. I had good accommodation close to the train station. Not the best location as there are a lot of refugees but a spacious apartment. My rent was €250 with everything included(even WiFi) except gas which at the end of my 5-month stay was around €16.

People

  • The Erasmus students were around 300 for the first semester. The biggest nationality group was Spanish which were 150-200. The next biggest one was Turkish again there were around 60-70. And the other nationalities combined were around 20. Most of the Spanish and the Turkish don't speak English or prefer to stick to their nationalities so it is hard to be part of their groups. But there are some that are happy to join in. I was suuuper lucky to have amazing roommates from different nationalities. We had so much fun goofing around, traveled a lot, ate some good food, got drunk around Foggia, and had so many cool adventures.

  • Italian people in Foggia don't speak English, even the students which was a complete culture shock to me. So I haven't communicated that much with them.

Living Expenses

My living expenses were almost completely covered by the Erasmus grant(in my case was €600). This gave me the freedom to travel around Italy and even abroad. The food is relatively cheap and fresh produce is easily accessible on the Mercato Rosati(highly recommend). Most of the other things are pretty inexpensive as well, so it is a budget-friendly Erasmus city.

Nightlife

There is almost no nightlife in Foggia, there are 3-4 clubs in the whole city - Irreversible (outside the city), Exodus, Domus, and Replay(mainly private parties). The old town bars(Timeless Dr Ink is good) only work on Friday and Saturday, but there are a few good places + when the old city livens up, it is pretty good. Mostly we relied on house parties and bottellon in the park. Overall, Foggia is not a city known for its nightlife.

ESN activities

The ESN Foggia is not super active and doesn't organize that many activities (maybe an event every 2 weeks). I think they got discouraged because not that many people were showing up. In the beginning, they organized trips but most of them got canceled because there weren't enough people. The ones that did happen were good and pretty cheap compared to if you had to organize it yourself. However, the ESN was super helpful when someone needed help with their landlord, the municipality, or something else.

There is another group of ex-ESN members that also organizes parties that are favored by the Erasmus students as they are bigger scale. So if you are looking for a good party they organize it + arrange the transportation.

Traveling

The city is relatively well connected with the Italian cities. There are three possible airports to go to if you want to travel abroad - Rome(cheap Flixbuses), Bari( I recommend Metaurobus to the airport) and Naples (AirCampania is the cheapest + it is very frequent). In September and October, you can still go to the beach so you can visit the amazing Puglia beaches with the buses of Cotrap(buy tickets at Kiwi bar next to the stations). We went to almost all of them - Manfredonia, Mattinata(my favorite), Vieste, Pescichi and Barletta. There is also a hike you can do between Monte Sant'Angelo and Manfredonia with breathtaking views or a Mattinata hike above the beach. You can also visit Naples, Pompeii, Rome, Bari, Lecce, Alberobello, Ostuni, Polignano a Mare, Amalfi coast, and many more things during the colder months. It was an amazing experience that was sooo worth it to just to explore Southern Italy.

Food

What can I say about Italian food? It is simply amazing. South of Italy is more famous for its pizza so you can see a lot of pizzerias around town, my favorites are - Salustri, Panne e Salute, and Pizza e Sfizi, good prices as well. Another super popular food here is Panzerotti - a deep-fried dough with mozzarella and tomato filling, I would recommend Friggitoria in Centro and Pizzeria Romana(also the pizza there is good, but it is more fast foody). Arancini are deep-fried balls of rice with...you guessed it mozzarella and tomato, they are better irl than they sound. They are also popular around here, so definitely worth a try. In Bari, the seafood is super good and I would recommend the panini con polpo (octopus sandwich), definitely, a must when you go there. There is also a typical pasta from Bari called orecchiette, which you can make from nonnas on the streets of the old town, they make it themselves in front of you.

It is super popular in Italy to have a croissant or as they call it cornetto for breakfast. A few good places are Oro Café, Uniko, and my toop one - Antica Cornetteria. You can choose a filling from over 20 flavors! The only thing is that it opens at 19 at night.

Last, but definitely not least - gelato. You would have a hard time getting enough of it. My top places are ICream and Tre.Zero.

Honorable mentions

Mercato Venrdi is a Friday morning market that has so many good things. It is mainly clothes that are super high-quality and are also super cheap - €1, €2, €5. I definitely got a lot of new finds.

Public transit in Foggia is confusing and I didn't get the hang of it for the 5 months I was there. Fortunately, the city is so small that you can basically walk everywhere.

Crimes in Foggia. Personally, I haven't witnessed any crimes in Foggia and for the most part haven't felt unsafe.

Sports facilities are almost non-existent so brace yourself for some runs in the park or working out at home. A few gyms are actually okay but it is nothing spectacular.

There is only one park in Foggia that is not super welcoming in my opinion. Also, it has a siesta?! I'm still not over it. If you are looking for a place to walk around the cemeteries are stunning with a lot of trees and grass. Just be polite.

The trains in Italy are way more expensive than my home country's, but they are amazing + extremely fast. It was our main mode of transportation around the South. If you are traveling for more days I recommend the 3 or 5-day pass that lets you hop on any regional train that you want for this period. it is amazing and allowed us to travel so much cheaper and hop on and off to some small sea coast villages. Just make sure the train number starts with R(regional) so that you don't have any trouble.

Overall I'm so happy for this experience, Erasmus made me grow so much as a person and I'm so thankful for it. I met amazing people and I made some of the best memories of my life. I would say that the city wasn't the best but we worked super hard to make it our home and to get the most out of it. If you are considering Foggia for Erasmus, but have other options I would say put it last. If you have already chosen Foggia, all I can say is that the city is what you make of it and you have so many opportunities to explore Italy and its culture. I advise you to meet as many Erasmus people and create your group with which you can travel and explore. It is not as bad as evryone makes it out to be. Good Luck!

P.P.S Sorry for the chaotic text, I wanted to write it while it is still fresh in my mind. At one point it turned into a travel guide, but I really hope it helps someone out, because when I was going there was no info about it. If you need more info I would be happy to help with what I can.


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