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Erasmus Project, Trip to Rovigo

How To Study, Live & Work In Another EU Country

On Monday the 11th of April, my school friends and I travelled with two teachers to Italy, where we were going to stay for five days with our host families. During this time we would learn the different ways people find and do work in Italy and compare it to the system in England. I arrived at the airport at about 7 o’clock in the morning as our flight left at around 9 o’clock, where I met with my friends and the teachers.

The plane journey was really exciting and Ellie and I watched a movie to pass the time. We left the airport at about 1pm, when we got there we caught a bus to the train station which would take us to Rovigo. The train journey took about forty five minutes, and I enjoyed looking out of the window at the Italian countryside and speaking with my friends. We were greeted at the train station by the families of whom we were staying. My host was called Claudia and she was really friendly. I also met her Mum who left shortly after with my luggage.

Next we departed to Ceregnano, where we would be listening to a talk by the company TMB, who were an engineering firm. Firstly, we listened to a lady talk about the different roles of workers in the company and how the business was run. She explained that the company had recently been passed down to the oldest, previous owner’s son. The company had been growing for many years and was now very well known.

She said that the company provides car parts for many car brands, such as McLaren, Volkswagen and Ford. These are often made by machines but they often have workers making the very complex pieces of equipment and transporting the resources. Therefore, the company has employed many people to support the business. For new workers they have provided training courses to get them used to the working environment and to learn about the trade.

          After that, we were taken on a tour around the company and shown the different types of machinery the company made. I especially liked seeing the gallery, where they had presented many of the different alloy wheels in many different colours. However, we were not allowed to take many pictures in case another company stole their methods.

At around 5.30pm we arrived back in Rovigo. Claudia, my exchange student  then took me to a gelaterria with her friends and their exchange partners. I chose a raspberry and chocolate ice cream, which was delicious. Whilst we were there, Ellie, my English friend and I spoke to the students from the Netherlands and Claudia’s friends about school and how we felt about Rovigo. We found that the main difference between Italian and English schooling was that the Italians finished school at lunchtime instead of the afternoon although they also had to go to school on Saturdays. Then I went home with Claudia and had tea with her family. It was a really fun day and I found the trip to the engineering company very interesting.


On Tuesday the 12th of April, the other exchange students and I travelled to Bergemo University to learn about the apprenticeship contracts in Italy and people’s experiences during their doctorate degree.

We started off by boarding a coach from Rovigo bus station at 7:45am. We said goodbye to our host families and set off for Bergemo University. The journey was quite long but we made it entertaining by listening to music together and reading Ellie’s book as a group which was really exciting!

After about two and a half hours we had arrived and were taken to a seminar at the University. An Italian Professor introduced us to the university and described the University’s characteristics. He said it was unique because it tried to educate their students in a modern way, preparing them for a surge in technology, expected to come in the future.

He then carried on to say that the learning processes in the future will change and modify to become more interactive with students. There would also be more work opportunities linked with technology because there are technological changes which will affect the way that we work. He believes there is going to be a sort of industrial revolution and the younger generation would need to be prepared for this. The problems associated with this in the past have been that only a small group of people were selected to put across new ideas and other people in companies were there to carry out their work. Whereas now this idea is changing and all employees are involved, people need to be prepared to develop new ideas and face changes of work. It is important that we can develop the technology we want and need for production. But if it doesn’t link science, technology and work then we can not progress. This idea is still relevant and the central topic is that science and work must be connected especially in the future. Technology and the internet are not the most important we must still focus on these parts working together.

Then he explained that probably, in the future, factories as we know will not exist and people will instead be asked to work from home. This may mean that there will be no separation between work and leisure because of less distinction. This can bring two scenarios; one is that men and women will find it hard to start relationships because there is more isolation when work is more independent. On the other hand, there is another possibility that these changes bring more opportunities of freedom for workers (freedom meaning a sense of how and why people do their job) because people are more connected with home life. Also, that we should try and understand where we are heading in the future, and he asked us if we were doing something that we chose or something we are being told to do in school. Also questioning if we saw the link between what we are learning and what we will do in the future. One of the people from the Finnish schools said that they were not always being taught subjects which they would choose to pursue but they can see some link of how these skills will help them in the future. I thought the man’s talk was very interesting and he sounded like he had a lot of experience in this field.

Next, another professor at the university spoke to us about the EU and importance of apprenticeships. He said that it took 20 years to persuade the EU that apprenticeships were needed to combat the figures of unemployment. The use of these in Germany and Austria showed that they were successful in political and economical terms. This then started the progression Italy and France made to try and link school and work more and speed up the time between finishing school and employment, using apprenticeship. The employer takes responsibility for the specific training which the apprentice does. In the main European countries apprenticeship schemes have been implemented even if 27% of students have on the job training already. 87% of students in their last years of school are also apprentices. At this stage apprenticeships provide a link between practical and theoretical links of work all needed in the current market. However, this causes problems because employers are not interested in the training of the apprentices. By being in control of the training scheme it means employers can employ apprentices to do work for them within the company but pay them a lower wage because it is considered part of the training. The apprentices are also not guaranteed a job at the end of it which means they may still find it hard getting employment at the end of the apprenticeship, defeating the objective of the training. However, they are still useful in educating people in the links between theoretical and practical learning within jobs and work. I found his speech very informative but it was sometimes quite hard to understand because he had quite a strong Italian accent.

After the seminar, we had a buffet lunch, which we ate outside on the grass. I ate some pizza, a piece of apple pie and some food that my Italian family had given me to eat which was really yummy!

Then, at two o’clock we went back inside to listen to a student’s experience when learning their doctorate degree. First, we listened to a lady who was another professor at the university who was explaining the difficulties of transition between education and getting a job in Italy. She explained that in the past people used to have jobs for much longer periods of time (for instance, starting a job when you were younger and then retiring from the same job having worked there all your life). Where as, now people may change jobs many times in their lives because they want to stay interested in their work or want to progress to a better lifestyle.

She also explained the difference between formal, informal and non-formal learning. Formal learning is when you learn in an environment like school during education, where you are there intentionally to learn, the most common way of learning. Informal learning is when you learn in places like apprenticeships where you learn while on the job in a company or work place. Non formal learning is when you learn in other situations, such as observing in every day life. She then went onto say that there has not been enough links between work which is done in school and practical work which people will experience whilst at work (formal and non formal learning).

Finally, after the professor had explained about the importance of having the right training to prepare young people for skills they will need in future jobs, we listened to two girls who had completed and were currently doing their doctorate degree. They had created an app called Inonno (which means I-grandpa) which allowed people to learn about the area around them by listening to the stories from elderly people in the area. This then can be used as a learning resource for teachers, which is primarily aimed at younger people in primary schools. Therefore, it not only provides a practical and exciting way of learning, it is also keeping up with the current processes of technology, making it very accessible and modern. By creating this it allowed them to get experience with current technology and incorporating theoretical and practical skills in their learning, something the University tries to focus on encouraging.

At 4:15pm our time at the university ended. The professors and speakers answered our questions and then thanked us for coming to listen to them. We then continued outside and got onto the bus. We arrived back at Rovigo at 7pm and we went home with our host families for tea. I enjoyed the day and I found the day very interesting and educational. Overall, I found the day a bit tiring but very informative.

On Wednesday (13th of April), I arrived at the Rovigo bus station at 8am, after eating breakfast at a patisserie, which Claudia and her Mum took me to. I ate a sugary doughnut which tasted brilliant! We parted for Ferrara, which was a little town about an hour away from Rovigo.

When we arrived in Ferrara, we visited a menswear manufacturing business called Berluti. The company specialised in making hand crafted shoes and bags, which were very high quality and also very expensive. Again, we could not take many pictures, in case another company were to copy their methods. The building was very modern and stylish, to showcase a well run company to customers interested in buying one of their products.

We were spoken to by one of their representatives, who explained the complicated and special way they make their shoes. Their products were all hand made apart from the stitching, which was done by machine. They again said that they have many employees, who have been trained by their company, to make the shoes to their high standards.

Next we were taken on a tour by someone from the university. We saw the pretty gardens and the outside of a very big castle in the middle of the town. It had spikes on the walls which were there to prevent enemies from ramming them, which made it look very complex.

We also went to another castle in the town, with a moat and drawbridge. However, it was now open to the public to admire the architecture and its magnitude. At around 4 pm, we were left on our own to do some shopping in Ferrera. Merlin, Darren, Ellie and I went to a café where we bought drinks and then we went to a clothes store where I bought some sun glasses to wear while we were away. Being in Ferrara was very relaxing and I especially liked spending time in the town, enjoying the sun. At 5 pm we finally departed for Rovigo and boarded the coach.

After we arrived back at our host family’s house, we prepared to go for a meal with the other exchanges and their hosts at a pizzeria. The medieval styled restaurant was very exciting and unique. I ate a seafood pizza with lemonade which was delicious! I also chatted to Claudia’s friends about England and Rovigo. Then, at about 9pm we went back to Claudia’s house.

On the morning of Thursday, at 7.45 pm we left for Roncade. Here we visited H-Farm, which was a digital platform for the digitalization of Italian companies. We first listened to a conference given by Gianluigi Orsini, who was the counsellor of human resources, He explained the different ways they helped businesses to become more modernized and technological. They showed us an example of a sailing business which they had helped develop which allowed people to hire captains of boats to take them on trips while they were on holiday.

Looking at the buildings was very interesting because they were very modern and designed with very large windows to give plenty of natural light. They said that they tried to keep their workers close to nature so that it was a good environment to work in as well as giving the designers inspiration for their work. In addition, they explained that they were in the progress of building a school on the site, with the aim of creating a modern school which is still connected to the outside world.

Next we caught a bus to Mestre, where we bought train tickets to go to Venice. We were given a tour of Venice by one of the teachers in Rovigo and I thought it was beautiful! During this time we were given chance to visit the shops and explore parts of Venice.

Firstly, Merlin, Darren, Ellie and I, decided to eat our lunch on one of the mooring pontoons in the city centre. It was a really nice spot and we saw many tour boats sail past with tourists. We then went looking around the many, pretty shops. We decided to all buy Venice masks as souvenirs. The shops were mostly very small inside but they were enchanting. My favourite was a shop selling Murino glass figures and jewellery, with a very friendly shop owner who me and Ellie bought bracelets from. I also bought some Italian pasta and herbs from a market stall and a honeycomb and vanilla ice cream. It was a beautiful day and Venice was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. At 6pm we boarded the train again and headed back to Rovigo.

That evening I was taken to a new restaurant which had opened near where Claudia lived with her friends who also had exchanges. I mainly spoke with Claudia and her brother but I also spoke with one of the Dutch exchanges about our day in Venice, which she had also really enjoyed. The food there was lovely and I ate far too much Italian cheese and ham!

The next day we prepared to go home and I packed my luggage into Claudia’s Mum’s car. At 8am, the other exchanges and I were given a conference on the competences required in the new labour market. It was a short presentation but the speakers mainly talked about the changes which were happening in the roles of workers and business. For instance, the coming surge in technology meant that people would have to become a lot more capable of managing different technology and strategies.

Next, we were given a class on how to fill in a cv and the ways people filled them in, to their advantage. We learnt that even though they had a lot of information on them that it was not very in depth, and it should give information on the person in a simple way.

At 1pm we then walked to the hotel that the teachers were staying in to get ready to leave. When we arrived, I met up with Claudia’s family who gave me a gift before I left. I then had lunch with Claudia and her Mum at the hotel, before leaving with them quickly to the train station, which would take us part of the way to the airport. We said good bye and I left with my friends to the airport.

Overall, I really enjoyed the trip and found learning about the employment sector of Italy very interesting. I got on really well with my exchange and am very grateful to have had the experience.

By Megan Porter


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