The International Students Welcome Week at Sapienza and the meaning of Erasmus
Between 22nd and 26th September 2014 Rome has been the centre of a brand new event: the International Students Welcome Week at Sapienza. This is the first time that the biggest university in Rome (and in Europe for number of students) decides to welcome students from all over the world, coming with Erasmus program, Erasmus Mundus, the brasilian program Sciences without borders and other bilateral agreements, all together creating seven days of cultural activities, presentations, workshops and meetings. As a student of the Sapienza University I could take part to the Welcome Week and I worked as a buddy, guiding and helping the students at their first approach with this huge, sometimes scary, entity which is the first university of Rome. I enjoyed these days so much. Actually the organization started at the beginning of the year thanks to the Sapienza International office and the students, selected as buddies, played a role just at the beginning of September. Anyway I think that the interaction between the home students and the international ones has been the most significant achievement of this event.
Personally, this week has been one of the best experiences of my life and made me reflect again about the meaning of Erasmus and other similar education programs. Without any doubt the thoughts go to my Erasmus months. It was just last year, in the very same days, that I was starting my staying in Vienna for a whole semester of courses in German and English. I had to admit that I was pretty scared and alone at the beginning. Although the different meetings organized by the University staff helped me to break the ice and I started feeling home. Thinking about those days makes me feel sad and melancholy. I am so grateful to have had the chance of living them.
As in the Erasmus months, in this September I learned so much and I met so many people from so many countries. The activities we organized all together, such as the Welcome session in the Aula Magna, the main hall of the campus, the World Coffee Break in the different Faculties or the “Get involved” Fair under the University Chapel, gave the students the possibility to feel themselves accepted and the University a way to show how much it cares for them. I think that this idea of the Welcome Week represents how much good there is in Italy if we just do the best that we can.
As many of you know, it is not a very happy moment for Italy, and for European Union in general. There are different visions for the future between countries, economy is not growing or is not growing enough. Although I am firmly convinced that learning programs as the Erasmus, this year changing name in Erasmus+, are the best way to build Europe from below. It is amazing how the different cultures can merge living all together and sharing changing life experiences like study abroad. Having a day-to-day contact with someone different from us helps understand the other’s perspectives and way of thinking or living. There may be things that we cannot stand but we will try to seat and find an explanation. Young people speak together, learn and teach languages (GOD BLESS THE TANDEM!!), study in groups of different nationalities and merge. The dream of a real European Union is nearer thanks to the links and bondages that changing-life-happenings like Erasmus and bilateral exchange programs create.
I am at the end of my university career, at least as a student, but I will never stop believing in the importance of the people’s reunions and meetings. I hope I will find a job which has an international environment and helps people to get in touch with different cultures, histories, languages because I want to live in a united Europe and it is also thanks to the personal relationships that we can realize one.