Nadia de Oliveira Coutinho is a final-year Modern Languages student here at Essex. She studied a year abroad at the University of Bologna in Italy during 2022-2023.

I never miss a chance to talk about my year abroad in Bologna, Italy, and complain about being nearly homeless several times, doing all my exams orally and fearing I’d be run over at any moment on the small pavements and narrow streets!

However, you will also hear me say the food was great, that when I finally moved into my flat it was a perfect home, and that I met such amazing people who became really good friends I still speak to. I also saw the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets I’ve ever seen in my life, and many Italian cities I visited on my travels.

Sunset over Bologna

It's crazy the things we hold on to and the things that change us without us noticing… During my year abroad at the University of Bologna, I was very stressed about my classes because I had mistakenly only chosen modules for Masters students. I also felt completely alone and scared at times and financially broke! But alongside all that, I appreciated the quiet streets, the good food (especially the gelato!), the clear skies and the sun, locals telling me my Italian was really good, the warmth emanating from the Italian families, plus the libraries and pretty buildings in Bologna.

I found lifelong friends in people who shared the same difficult situation as me and who chose to be kind and helpful. I learned so much, not only academically, but about myself. I learned how resilient and resourceful I can be, I became more confident in my abilities.

I will not lie and say it was easy, but I can tell you wholeheartedly that it was worth it and I would do it again. It really is an experience everyone should have, an adventure. I now feel that if I can go to a different country, have classes in a different language, live on my own, I can do anything!

Nadia de Oliveira Coutinho standing in front of a wall frieze in Bologna

Inspired by Nadia’s blog? Visit our study abroad webpages to find out where Essex can take you!