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Study in Venice

A journey into the world of ESN (Erasmus Student Network)

Posted On 08/03/2022

An acronym which includes shared values, team, integration, opportunities. ESN Venezia is an association that supports student’s exchange programs, through the constant support of a group of volunteers who do care about international students. Not by chance, among the key goals of ESN we find supporting a full social and academic integration of international students, as well as the wish to help them have an active, pleasant and unforgettable experience. ESN is a reference point in Venice and the whole staff aims to promote and organize throughout the academic year a series of activities and meetings to facilitate intercultural exchange, new friendships and debates. Therefore, 'openness' is a key word of the association: indeed, the activities are addressed to the whole student community in Venice including students from Ca' Foscari, Iuav, Fines Arts Academy, Venice International University (VIU) and Music Conservatory Benedetto Marcello.
ESN activities are very different and cover six main missions:

  • Culture;
  • Education and Youth;
  • Environmental Sustainability;
  • Health and Well-being;
  • Skills and Employability
  • Social Inclusion.

We thought to talk to some of those young students who experienced ESN and listen to their stories, two international students who spent a semester in Venice: Fernanda and Rubén, from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).

Fernanda: My name is Fernanda, I’m 24 years old and I’m from Mexico. I study Applied Linguistics at the Universidad Autónoma de México and I spent a semester in Venice within the degree program in Language, Civilisation and the Science of Language at Ca' Foscari University of Venice. I dreamed of studying Italian since I was a child and it was a wonderful experience.
Rubén: My name is Rubén, I’m 22 years old and I’m from Mexico too. I study Chemical Engineering at the Universidad Autónoma de México and I studied Chemistry and Environmental Sciences at Ca' Foscari University of Venice during my semester in Venice.

Why did you choose Venice as your study destination?
Fernanda and Rubén: We were especially interested in living this experience in Italy, in any part of the country, and our university in Mexico had the option of Verona or Venice, and we landed in Venice simply for bureaucratic procedures.
Fernanda: However, although it was not such a reasoned decision, I once read a sentence that said: "You don’t choose Venice, Venice chooses you", and after six months, I realized that it was just like that, this experience helped me a lot to shape my character, not only to meet friends and have a good time. In fact, there are many difficulties that a student has to face in his life in Venice, but precisely for this reason I can say that this made me grow and strengthened my personality.

How did you find out about ESN?
Fernanda: I found some references to ESN in a story published on studentlifeinvenice Instagram page, because I wanted to get to know about all the activities for international students related to the university of Ca' Foscari. Therefore, I tried to find out more about your association and I look up some information on social networks.
Rubén: I got to know ESN because some international friends introduced me to your association and from there I started to learn about you and your activities.

How did ESN change your experience in Venice?
Fernanda: I really think that my experience in Venice would have been very different without ESN, because thanks to you I was able to meet many people, not only foreigners but also Italians, which is quite difficult in class. So,I was able to create a real group of friends through you, your events and everything that you organized,
Rubén: I spent almost all my time in Venice with ESN, because with Overseas we didn’t have the opportunity to meet all these people, because there is no overseas group, so ESN gave us the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, without any geographical or cultural barrier. I still remember when I participated in my first City Tour and I didn’t know how to get to Venice station and we got lost, but the emotion of that moment was unique: we were all meeting each other for the first time and we were about to live an unforgettable semester together.

On a practical level, in which ways did ESN help you most?
Fernanda: Mainly, as I said before, in social life, but also and above all to have the awareness of being able to count on Italian people, I could count on you for any doubt and ask you anything: bureaucracy, public administration, university, the city, and so on. It made life in Venice very easy for me, and also in a pleasant and fun way.
Rubén: ESN presence was the biggest help: any doubt would have found concrete feedback within the ESN group, which provided us with great support for every problem we had. In addition to the fact that the staff has always been very kind to us, they were not only volunteers who organized events, but they became good friends. Sometimes we had a walk in Campo Santa Margherita and we met the ESN group, and from the meeting to the have an aperitif together the step was very short.

What was the ESN event you enjoyed the most?
Fernanda: Wow, it’s very difficult to choose just one, because I really liked every event and each of them left a mark on my Venetian journey, but I think one of the most beautiful was the trip to Verona: I loved it and I met great people on that occasion, with which I had the opportunity to spend a wonderful day. I also remember the kayak event with great joy, because it was the first time I had done this in my life.
Rubén: The most beautiful event was the trip to Bassano del Grappa, because it seemed to me a very cheerful place, with music in the streets and surrounded by mountains: it reminded me a lot of my home in Mexico.

Article by
Alessandra Criscuolo and Sofia Francesca Russo
ESN Venezia