An Erasmus experience in Dublin

This month a year ago marked the 30th anniversary of one of the most successful European programmes, Erasmus.

Giovanni Ciampi playing guitar. (Photo: Giovanni Ciampi)

More and more Erasmus students are choosing Ireland for a semester abroad or for a full Master programme. Recent statistics made by the European Commission show that “more than twice as many European students come into Ireland for Erasmus, as Irish Students go to other Member States”. For the recent occasion of the 31st birthday of the successful European programme, The Circular met Giovanni Ciampi, an Italian student doing his semester abroad in UCD and passionate by Guitar. To understand better how is it to be an Erasmus student, The Circular asked Giovanni who came in Dublin to study Artificial Intelligence, few essential questions.

Could you describe your first days as an Erasmus student in Dublin?

UCD and Dublin, in general, are really used to foreign students. When I got to the university, I felt really welcomed by the school and the administration and became quickly a student like everybody else. The atmosphere allowed me to get integrated easily. In Dublin, I feel like foreign students are way more likely to have a fast integration whereas in Italy it might take more time.

How do you think Irish education differs from other education systems?

In Ireland, there is a different approach to the way of studying, to the extent that some students treat their student career like a normal job, doing 9 am to 6 pm offices hours. The studying habits and attitudes are different from where I’m from. At the same time, there are bars, cafes and restaurant on the campus which allow students to take breaks, socialise and develop a sense of student society. In the building where my laboratory is, there is a bar held by Italians from the South and they do an excellent espresso. I wasn’t expecting in my sweetest dreams to drink a real Italian espresso in Ireland.

How did the fact of being surrounded by international students impact you?

In the beginning, you expect the other foreign students to be shy and don’t know how to talk to each other. Basically, everybody thinks that we are too different to work together or be friends, but you quickly realise that wherever we come from we have more things in common than we expect, and we can share more opinions and ideas from different cultures.

What did you think of the student societies in Ireland?

I know that Student societies are bigger in Ireland than in many other European countries. In UCD, societies work exceptionally well, but this is facilitated by the fact that the amount of student on the campus is important. They offer as on many other campuses, a lot of infrastructures for their students. They organise all along the semester, events for everybody but also events dedicated to the Erasmus students to help them create groups. Student societies organise trips as well around Ireland, which allow us to socialise, discover the beauties of the Irish landscape and historical places at the same time.

What will make you remember the city of Dublin?

The city is really aesthetic and uniform at the same time. There are so many narrow streets with pavements that push you to keep visiting. The city is so busy and quiet at the same time, you are never left with anything to do, Dublin is full of events everywhere and at any time. Irish people are open to foreigners and warm. The culture is different from Italy, as people would often meet or go after work for coffee, rather than Irish people going for a pint. My Erasmus experience will help me to improve my knowledge and learn new ways of researching in the field of artificial intelligence.

Giovanni Ciampi is one of the numerous students who chose to do a semester abroad to extend his knowledge on his area of study but also to learn a new culture and discover new people. Erasmus in Ireland is growing every year and the opportunities for progression for students willing to start their career are getting more interesting every year.