Every year thousands of students from all over the world choose Zaragoza as their destination to enjoy the unforgettable Erasmus experience. In this interview with Gaia Nipponi, an Italian student, we tell you why Zaragoza is the perfect city.
Gaia Nipponi is a student from a small town near Bergamo (Italy). She had always dreamed of living this Erasmus experience and for this, she chose Zaragoza as the perfect setting to make her dream come true. There are many reasons that make the Aragonese capital a privileged destination for foreign students. From the language to the lifestyle: a perfect balance between the wide cultural and leisure offer of the big cities and the comfortable mobility without dependence on means of transport.
The University of Zaragoza is among the top ten choices for foreign students. At its peak, Zaragoza was able to host more than 3,000 students from all over the world. Currently, in this still pandemic academic year 2021/2022, there are more than 1,000 students enjoying this experience in the city, among them, Gaia. The Italian student tells us how she is living the Erasmus experience in Zaragoza.
What was your idea of Erasmus, beyond the academic aspect?
It seemed to me an opportunity to meet other people, especially from other cultures. And also to change my environment. In my case, I live in Fornovo San Giovanni, a small town near Bergamo, so I had this mentality of wanting to live in a bigger city and meet other people.
What were the reasons that led you to choose Spain?
The first reason was the language, I studied Spanish at the High School and I had a good level and it was one of my possibilities. Also, I was very interested in the courses offered by the University of Zaragoza. Especially the one offered in Journalism, since I study Communication Sciences at Unimi, l’Università degli Studi di Milano.
Once you chose Spain, why Zaragoza as the destination for your Erasmus experience?
I was given the option to choose three cities. I chose Zaragoza, Madrid and Rotterdam (Netherlands). At the time, I didn’t care where I was going, but when I found out that I got my first choice, Zaragoza, I was very happy. For me it is a big city that has all the comforts of a big city, as I am used to my town of 3,000 inhabitants. But it also has an easy mobility, since I don’t have to take transportation to go to the university, nor to go downtown because I can walk in 20 minutes. I’ve been here since January and I think it’s a perfect city to live in.
Are your expectations being fulfilled?
Absolutely, all of them. And beyond that.
How did you find accommodation?
I looked for it on Idealista. I started looking in April last year and in October I found my room. At the beginning, I contacted a lot of people to see rooms. Right now, I’m the only Italian in the apartment. I live with two Greeks, an Englishman and an American, so I only speak English.
What difficulties do you encounter with the language?
I understand a lot but sometimes speaking is complicated. The biggest difficulty is when I listen to young people speak. The Spanish I learned in school is more standard, and I don’t fully understand colloquial Spanish. I would like to understand it more.
Spain and Italy have a lot in common, such as the Mediterranean diet, the climate, the partying… But what makes them different?
Here in Spain everything is quieter. To make a comparison, in Milan everyone is in a hurry, sometimes it feels like they are judging you. In Zaragoza, on the other hand, they are more open-minded, you are freer and no one judges you.
Have you visited other places in Aragon, which ones have caught your attention the most?
No, but we are planning a visit to Huesca, Teruel and the Pyrenees.
Would you recommend this experience to other students?
Absolutely, yes, my friends called me crazy for going to live alone for a year, but they are experiences and this is the best of my life. When I found out that I had been accepted in Zaragoza, that I had to leave alone, I was afraid. Leaving Italy was hard and I was afraid, but it was only at the beginning.
Any advice you would give to future students?
Don’t be afraid to meet people. In the beginning, I was hesitant to feel comfortable in the apartment or not connect with people. But it’s almost impossible for that to happen. Just the fact that the other people are living the same experience as you, it’s a very strong common bond. It creates a very nice environment to make friends.