Study Abroad: ‘I’m going to Venice!’

I’ve rewritten this article at least ten times, because I wanted to return to you all with some good news. Finally, I can tell you that as of yesterday I’ve had my visa accepted and I’m going to Venice! The last couple of months have been stressful, frustrating and hard work, I’ve faced exams, trying to source all my documentation for a visa and a worsening pandemic. However, I feel like now my real 2021 can finally start.

Exams abroad differ to that of those at Leeds pretty drastically. For starters the majority are oral exams. This means you get asked three questions on the spot and you have twenty-five to thirty minutes to continuously talk and hopefully prove you have good knowledge from that module. If that wasn’t scary enough these exams also took place on google meets/zoom meetings so the rest of the class could see and hear you answer and vice versa. You may think it would be easy because surely, you’d know the questions? Oh no, you get asked different questions to everyone else (no two people have the same) and they range from in depth and very specific to as broad as who is Othello?”. And it gets worse because you get your results back immediately, as in you get them on the spot and in front of everyone. It is also very different to our usual uni grading system as you can decide to reject or accept the grade (bear in mind this is still in front of everyone) and if you decide to reject it you have other opportunities to do it later on in the year. I had two of these and, if I’m honest, although I felt sick beforehand it was actually a nice way of being examined, I felt like I got to say my opinion more, engage with the professor and their judgements on the topic and I could steer the questions to suit my knowledge.

After exam season was finished, I had to start collecting things for my visa application. Over the Christmas holidays both Leeds uni and Ca Foscari (my Italian uni) decided a lot of European universities could welcome English study abroad students. To say I screamed and nearly fell off my chair doesn’t even paint half the picture of how ecstatic I was. However, it meant January was filled with a lot of stress. Thanks to Brexit I now needed to apply for a visa D to be allowed in the country, which came with its own struggles. I had to do an endless amount of paperwork and because this is a fairly new process, help was very scarce. Once I had my documentation I had to drive to the Italian embassy in Manchester (which took a casual three hours) where I spent two and a half hours getting my paperwork thoroughly looked at and being asked lots of security questions. I applied on the 27th of January and I should be in Venice by the time you are reading this article.

Although first semester had its struggles, I’d still recommend people looking at study abroad years to go for it. Online lectures aren’t the worst and after the year we’ve all had if there’s any chance of going away in the near future you’ve got to grab it! Education is seen as an essential reason to travel, so 2021 study abroad years should presumably go ahead in Europe as long as it remains safe. I’ve faced a mountain load of new challenges, from an Italian oral exam to applying for a visa to trying to remain positive when I felt like I kept getting pushed two steps back every time I took one forward. I cannot wait to write from Venice, I’m packing my suitcase and smiling from ear to ear, ciao for now.

Header image credit: Green Building Information Gateway