Personal experience of participation in a student exchange program with the University of Turin
Application, selection and administrative process:
Being long fascinated with Italian culture, architecture and cuisine, I always wanted to go there. So, when the opportunity for exchange to UniTo was announced, I was delighted. Not only the opportunity in itself was really exciting, but it was made even better when UniTo decided to offer a scholarship of 3000 euros to the selected student. The documents required for the application were motivation letter, recommendation letter, study plan, learning agreement and information about your academic performance and extracurricular activities. The process started in March, soon after the submission of documents, the applicants were invited for an interview, during the interview, the questions were asked about motivation to apply, courses I intended to choose etc.
Once I was selected, I thought I had to deal with a long bureaucratic process, but it was surprisingly easy, at HSE, Ekaterina, the manager of the programme helped me with all the necessary documentation and at UniTo, Marcella, the manager at International Mobility Office quickly and efficiently helped me with everything. I also talked to a former student of our programme, Dali Marzieva, who had been to UniTo on exchange and was more than happy to share some tips and advices about Torino, for which I am very thankful to her.
In Torino, I decided to apply for campus accommodation, which is managed through EDISU Piemonte, which has student housing locations all over the city. I was lucky enough to be allotted an apartment in Residenza Olimpia, which was built for Winter Olympics held at Torino in 2006. It is literally two-minute walk from Campus Einaudi. Residenza Olimpia is more of a hotel than a student accommodation. My neighbours there were two girls from MGIMO who were in UniTo for an exchange semester as well. Moreover, my apartment had a view of mountains and Mole Antonelliana, which is a landmark of Torino. Which made living there a lovely experience. The staff at Residenza is very friendly and helpful.
Torino, also known as little Paris (piccolo Parigi), because of the Parisian style boulevards, is a city located in the northern Italy in the Piemonte region, located at foot of Italian Alps and borders Switzerland and France. Torino has a rich history. It was briefly a part of France in 18th century and the first capital of Italy.
Modern Torino is part of Italian economic triangle of Milan-Torino-Genoa and home of brands like FIAT, Alfa Romeo, Lavazza etc. So before going there my impression was that it would be a typical industrial city with not much to do, but I was proved wrong once I got there.
Torino is bustling city and a very exciting place no matter where your interests lie, from various museums, lovely street cafes and bars. If you like hiking, you can go to Basilica di Superga or Monte dei Cappucini, if you are a history fan, visit Egyptian museum, which is the second largest museum dedicated to Egypt outside Cairo, if you enjoy movies, you will love the Movie museum located inside Mole Antonelliana. If you like food and shopping, just walk around Via Po or Piazza Castello and choose from a variety of places to eat from a trattoria to a fine dining restaurant. If you enjoy exploring a city on foot, you will love Torino. Italo Calvino has very accurately described Torino “Straight streets that never end when you look out over the railings of the balconies and a double row of trees fading away beyond into white skies”, it is indeed like that! Oh, and did I mention, Torino has a perfect weather throughout the year!
Università Degli Studi di Torino:
UniTo, which was founded in the year 1404, is one of the oldest universities in Italy and even the world. UniTo has campuses throughout Torino ranging from some old palaces (yes, palaces, really!) to the very modern Campus Einaudi, located on the banks of Po river and named after the former President Luigi Einaudi, who was a graduate of UniTo. The library of UniTo is incredible 4 floor building, offering all the required facilities, my favourite part of the library was historical books section, which has books dating back to 14th century!
The didactic method at UniTo is different than at HSE. At HSE, students are regularly assigned tasks, may it be essays or presentations etc. In UniTo, we were assigned books. I had to choose some different courses than I originally intended as UniTo changed some of its courses earlier in August. As I am writing my master thesis about disinformation policies, I chose subjects from the faculty of Law, the courses I chose were European Comparative and Administrative Law by Prof. Caranta, International Institutional Law by Prof. Greppi, Anti-Discrimination Law by Prof. Caielli and Legal Aspects of Globalisation by Prof. Praduroux. We had lot of guest lecturers for our courses too, including the head of ITCILO and some EU officials.
Apart from these courses, I also had mandatory Global Actors course from HSE. But Prof. Belyaeva made things easier for exchange students by just assigning us topics for essay.
At UniTo, each professor has a different method of teaching and even conducting exams. Another fact I love about Italian universities is that they allow four attempts for exams per semester, so if you are not satisfied with the grade, you can attempt the exam one more time, which I did!
Apart from the courses from faculty of Law, I also chose to join an Italian language course offered by UniTo and an interesting fact I would like to mention is I had 4 classmates from different faculties of HSE!
UniTo has a very active student life. If you are interested in any specific topic for research or even an extracurricular activity, UniTo will provide you opportunity for it. Another fact I would like to mention about UniTo is that it heavily subsidises the food prices for exchange students. At any EDISU cafeteria, you can buy lunch or dinner with a smart card, the price of full meal is just 2.50 euros, while a fresh made pizza of your choice costs just 1.80 euros.
Some tips for students:
1. I would recommend every first-year student to apply for exchange to UniTo, not only because it is one of the best universities in the world, but also because of its location, you can travel throughout Europe quite easily. Flixbus makes travelling cheap and easier for students, I cannot tell you how many times I just impromptu bought a ticket and went on a trip.
2. Study hard and appear for exams in December, so before you start your internship, you have almost a month free to travel wherever you want.
3. Definitely enrol in the Italian language course, it is fun, and Italian is such a beautiful language.
4. If you are a foodie, you are definitely going to love Italy. But keep in mind never to order a cappuccino after 11 am! And definitely go for a gelato at La Romana dal 1947.
5. If you have any questions or would like to know something, talk to fellow Italian students or even professors, they’re very friendly and always very happy to help.
To conclude, I would like to encourage students to apply for exchange. It is a wonderful experience. And I would like to thank Prof. Belyaeva and the public policy department for choosing me and to UniTo for the generous stipend and the wonderful experience I had.
Text prepared by Harshad Pujari, 2nd year student of master's program "Political Analysis and Public Policy"