Each academic year AAU hosts more than 200 exchange students from all over the world. One of them is Lucia Coppola. The 21-year-old studies Languages, Communication and Media at “Università del Sacro Cuore” in Milan and spent one semester in Klagenfurt to improve her language skill. She told us about the experience and provides some tips on how you can prepare for an exchange semeter.
Tell us a bit about you. How old are you, what are you studying, where are you from?
Hello! I am Lucia, I’m 21 years old and I come from a nice city near Milan in Italy. I study Languages, Communication and Media at “Università del Sacro Cuore” in Milan, and I’m attending the last year of my Bachelor. I’m studying this particular subject because I want to work as a communication responsible for a radio station or for some record companies.
Why did you want to go abroad for a semester?
I really wanted to go abroad for many reasons. First, I study languages and I think the best way to learn a language is to use it every day. Another reason is that I love to travel and meet people from other places and know their culture. I also think that it is important to live on your own and become responsible, and Erasmus is an amazing chance for doing it!
Why did you choose the AAU?
I study English and German, so I found it perfect to come to an international University in which I could speak both languages with mother tongue – speakers and live in a place surrounded by German speakers and a beautiful nature.
How did you become aware of the university?
I didn’t know anything about Klagenfurt and the Alpen-Adria Universität till some friends of mine went there last year and told me about their amazing experience and this attracted me to come to Klagenfurt and have a wonderful experience too, and they were absolutely right!
What do you like most about Klagenfurt? What surprised you most?
My favorite thing about Klagenfurt are absolutely the wonderful sunsets at the lake and this is also what surprises me the most. The nature of Klagenfurt is so touching. I also loved to experience all of my Erasmus-life with all the people I met in Klagenfurt, they are the most beautiful people I could ask for.
What was your highlight? Is there a particularly funny anecdote?
I think that my highlight is something very important that I’ve learnt: I really discovered that what makes us different is also the real beauty we have. Everyone says that we have to respect each other, that we are all equal, that we are all sharing the same world, but does everyone really mean it and do it? I don’t think so. This experience really taught me how much great and wonderful diversity is, how much we can learn from it and how much we can reach through it because, in the end, we are all people who want to reach happiness. Starting from sharing the same kitchen you get to know how people eat in many different ways, it could sound ridiculous to speak about something like that, but what did you expect? I’m Italian and, as you all know, food is a big part of my culture. So, when I first saw what and how the others eat it was so funny! I thought that some things like eating pasta with ketchup or putting pineapple on pizza or the fact that Irish people drink a lot of beer were just tales or exaggeration of the reality, instead they are not, and it was also so funny for us Italians to see our international friends doing those things, on the other hand I think they found us ridiculous in many other ways! In the end, these things never tear us apart one another, just make us laugh together, and this is the way you learn what sharing, understanding, love, and friendship are.
What would you advise others who are planning a semester abroad?
First of all, I think that everyone should go abroad at least for a semester, there is so much that I’ve learnt, and I think everyone deserves to learn and to live such an amazing experience. So, don’t be shy, don’t be afraid of doing this experience and to change your life. I know that it is difficult to exit our comfort-zone, but there is so much to see out there! A little bit of time abroad may change completely the way you see life. This experience will give you much more than you expected, you will get to know lovely people and you will find out more about yourself as well! And don’t forget that you will do it while you’ll study what you love. Furthermore, this experience will make you a more skilled people: you will learn or improve your ability to speak another language, you will gain an experience for your future job and you won’t regret this. You will also discover a different way of learning, a different kind of university maybe and this will be a good way, on one hand, to change your habits a little bit, and on the other hand, this will be a good way to appreciate some good things about your university as well, so you can take the best from both and maybe suggest them what to improve.