My Year in Venice, Part 2: Accommodation & Language

By Georgia Nicklin, BSc Finance and Management with the University of Venice at the ICMA Centre, Henley Business School.

For the duration of my stay in Venice, I decided to live in a student residence called ESU Venezia.

Outside the ESU Venezia student accommodation

I applied through the accommodation office online a few months before. Selected at random, my accommodation was located in a ‘Campo’ called San Tomà (in the district, San Polo, which is right in the middle of Venice), which was only a ten minute walk away from the iconic Rialto Bridge and a 20 minute walk away from St. Mark’s Square.

St. Mark’s Square, Venice

It was also only a ten minute walk from the train station, Ferrovia/Santa Lucia, and Piazzale Roma too, where the buses are located to lead you out of Venice, for example, to go to Mestre or the airport. It was extremely cute, surrounded by lovely bakeries, restaurants and a supermarket, and also had its own vaporetto stop. This was perfect as it gave me the full Venetian experience.

A lot of people I met throughout the year weren’t quite as lucky, as they had accommodation assigned in Mestre (which is the mainland – a bus ride away from actual Venice) or Giudecca (on its own separate island where you had to travel into Venice by vaporetto). Due to this, I was extremely appreciative as I could literally walk everywhere, and I think I only took the vaporetto four times during the whole time I lived in Venice!

Campo San Tomà

Not knowing anyone before arriving in Venice, I felt living in a student residence was the best and easiest way to meet new people also studying at Ca’ Foscari. This was definitely a very good decision as I’ve now made friends from all over the world – Italy (of course), Poland, Japan, China, South Korea, Australia, Russia, Turkey, you name it! My residence was extremely international and there were actually no other Brits staying there so it was nice to learn about other people’s countries and cultures.

The rent for my accommodation was super cheap. Including bills, a single room was €320pm (£290 based on today’s exchange rate!) which is actually even cheaper than the price of rent in Reading!

There were a few downsides to my accommodation. For some reason, the kitchen had no oven or hobs – only microwaves, kettles and toasters. This was not ideal at all as I really love to cook, but you do get used to it. My mum bought me a microwave recipe book for Christmas and it’s crazy how much you can actually cook in one – pasta, chilli con carne, jacket potatoes etc.! I swear I saw one person in the residence cook a whole chicken once, but I never took it that far!

Another downside, which will definitely definitely affect all students, is that the accommodation does not have Wi-Fi in bedrooms – only downstairs in the common area. This was a struggle at first as I am a keen Instagram gal, but you really just have to get used to it. I had quite a good sim deal with Vodafone which gave me 15GB data but that wasn’t enough to stream my weekly TV series so usually I would download things to watch using the university Wi-Fi instead.

A bakery in San Tomà

All of the modules you will take are completely taught in English, thankfully!

During the first year of your degree, whilst studying in Reading, you actually have the chance to take IWLP Italian A1 for beginners which counts as a non-credit module. I would really recommend doing this and the ICMA Centre is kind enough to fund this. It doesn’t even count towards your first year overall grade (so you’re allowed to mess up!) and, most importantly, it really sets you up with the basics for when you arrive in Venice.

The view looking across to St. Mark’s Square

Ca’ Foscari runs Italian language classes, which I did try. Unfortunately there were too many clashes with my timetable so I had to stop. I chose to have private Italian classes instead (located only a 5-minute walk away from my house) and this was possibly one of the highlights of my year abroad.

The Italian school was run by a lovely, welcoming Venetian family who not only helped me improve my language ability, but also helped me to get a sense of the Venetian culture.

When it came to interacting with the locals in shops and bars, I really tried to speak as much Italian as possible even if I was unsure! The locals really love it when you have a go at their language and it’s great practice when they respond because you can really listen to their pronunciations and pick up new words and local catch-phrases too.

A nice spot for coffee!

The most important phrase I learnt throughout the whole year was “un café da portare via, per favore,” which translates to “a coffee to go, please.” I’m a coffee addict so I will honestly take that phrase to the grave with me!

Georgia is a student at the ICMA Centre studying BSc Finance and Management. The degree is a unique three year experience, where students spend their second year at Ca’ Foscari, University of Venice. As the first student from Reading to have completed this part of the programme, we’ve got Georgia to share her experiences during her year in Venice.

Part 3 looks at student life in Venice.

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