After spending 5 lovely weeks at home with my family I have finally set out on second, and final, part of my year abroad. Tomorrow marks the end of my first week in Pavia – and what a crazy week it’s been!
Pavia is absolutely gorgeous, and it’s just the right size for someone like me who’s used to country life most of the time. The university campus is in the centre of town and pretty much everything is within a ten minute walk from the main campus (including my new apartment). Unfortunately, getting here took a little bit more work than I was expecting! For anyone travelling here from London it couldn’t be easier, but living in Wales meant that I had a very, very long day of travelling – including a 5 and a half hour bus ride to Gatwick airport, a 2 hour plane ride, just over an hour on the bus across Milan, a 30 minute train ride to Pavia, and a 10 minute walk to the apartment with all the cases. I have to say that it was definitely worth it! I couldn’t have asked for a better place to spend the next 6 months. My mother left this morning, after 6 days here helping me to sort things out. We spent Saturday wandering around town trying to get our bearings, and on Sunday we visit all the tourist ‘attractions’ to celebrate my 21st birthday – the only problem with being Italy for my 21st was that everything is closed on Sundays, but we had a relaxing day all the same.
Monday morning was when the real hard work started! First on our list of places to visit was l’Ufficio delle Entrate, where I had to apply for my codice fiscale (which is needed in order to apply for housing, phone contracts, university registration etc.). After hearing stories from other Erasmus students in various parts of Italy I was expecting this to be the hardest part of my stay, but it actually turned out to be ridiculously simple… once you look past the fact that the document the uni sent me for completion is out of date and no longer accepted by the tax office! From here we headed straight to the university to register with the Erasmus office, which also turned out to be a rather simple affair. I had to go on a mad hunt for passport photos (which I’d forgotten to pack – there’s always something!), but other than that everything was sorted out very efficiently.
With all the bureaucratic jobs behind me it was time to get down to business. Housing was much easier to sort out than I expected! I arrived in Pavia with nowhere to live besides a hotel, and this afternoon I moved into my new student apartment. There are plenty of advertisements to be found on the uni noticeboard; most of them looking for one of two students to fill empty rooms. I contacted the owner of an apartment that was really near to the university, and 2 days later I went to view the apartment. I signed the contract last night, and now I’m sat on the bed in my new room, finally updating my blog. The process really was that simple! Although I did have problems with making the rent payment as I decided to keep my french bank account to use in Italy. International transfers are really awkward as it turns out! So with hindsight I should have closed my french account and opened an italian one instead. I now live with 3 female italian students, which should be great for my language skills! Everyone is being really patient with me so far and I’ve already introduced the whole apartment to welshcakes – they were a big hit!
So far the italian system has given me fewer problems than the french system, but there’s still time for me to discover some hidden issues. Fingers crossed that things will be just as positive next time I sit down to write!