Ilaria (Paris) and Giorgio (Turku)

Paris and Turku: Double and Joint Degrees worth “twice” as much 

A truly international university experience is guaranteed when you choose a double or joint degree (DJD). These degrees provide an integrated study curriculum with international universities and mobility periods abroad. After the final examination, students achieve a double or joint degree issued by the partner universities. 

Ca’ Foscari offers a variety of DJDs, both at a Bachelor’s and Master’s level. We interviewed Ilaria Dal Barco, who is studying in Paris for the Joint Degree Erasmus Mundus (QEM): Master's Degree Programme in Economics and Finance, and Giorgio Diprima, who is studying in Turku (Finland) for the European Computer Science (ECS): Bachelor's Degree Programme in Informatics

Ilaria, Joint Degree Erasmus Mundus: "An international network for an international career" 

What are you studying and why did you choose a DJD? 

I chose the Master's Degree Models and Methods of Quantitative Economics at Ca’ Foscari, which partners with the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and Sorbonne Université in Paris. I chose the DJD because I would like an international career, and because my Erasmus experience during my BA helped me understand that this is my path. I love changing my habits, discovering new customs, learning new languages, and having friends all over the world. 

What makes a DJD special? Tell us about your international university experience. 

I believe that the opportunity to experience studying in different faculties and with students of various nationalities is invaluable. I am sure that the network I’m building during my studies will be a resource during my career. 

Living in an international environment, and in particular in a university environment, is incredibly enriching. It allows you to open your mind, to understand that what seems different at first is often not so different when you take a closer look. It also encourages you to embark on a series of new experiences. Every day is a new and stimulating challenge, and even though you always have to study (and I mean, to study A LOT!), there are plenty of opportunities to spend time with people and have fun. In no time, you feel as if you are part of a family. 

Tell us five things you should “take” with you when you prepare for this experience.

  1. The first one is certainly a sense of adventure. If you really want to enjoy this experience, you must be open to anything: this is how you can make the best of it. Don’t let circumstances scare you: be open to reassess yourself and try to welcome situations that make you feel a little uncomfortable, but that also allow you to grow and improve. In short: get out of your comfort zone!  
  2. Use comfortable shoes. You’ll be travelling a lot and you need to be “physically” ready for adventure
  3. The ability to adapt. Living abroad can be difficult. It’s not as easy as living at home, and relationships with your housemates can be tricky. But never fear! If you learn to adapt, you will develop soft skills that you can use again in the future, and that are all the more appreciated, I can assure you, because they are rare
  4. The essentials. Travel light – don’t carry too many clothes and try to blend in. As you travel, you learn to put your life in a suitcase: it is an exercise of decluttering and minimalism, and it makes your feel really light
  5. Finally, I can tell you what you shouldn’t take with you: your previous life. Of course you should keep in touch with your friends and family, but I think you should feel free to experience living and studying abroad. Be brave! Leave it all behind and set off! 

Let’s talk about universities: what are your favourite places in Venice and abroad? 

Each university is organised in its own way, but they all share that fantastic place where people drink coffee – whether at a bar or vending machine, study breaks are among the most memorable moments and are usually great opportunities to socialise and meet new people. 

Plus, many universities abroad have lovely parks where you can go for really enjoyable picnics. 

Last, but not least, libraries: they make studying more pleasant! 

Imagine your future: where do you see yourself in 5 years? 

I don’t have a definitive answer, but I know I see myself in an environment that is international, dynamic and stimulating. I see myself in Europe, which is my country, but probably not in Italy, at least not during the first few years of my career. 

I certainly see myself communicating with people from all over the world, because some friendships last forever. I’m planning to continue my studies with a PhD and I believe that the opportunity to meet and work with people from different countries will give a boost to my research. 

Giorgio, European Computer Science: "Leave your comfort zone – but don't forget your coffee maker"

What are you studying and why did you choose a DJD? 

I study computer science and I chose Ca’ Foscari precisely because of this DJD. In Italy the course is quite theoretical and focuses on computer science, while in Finland it focuses more on embedded systems engineering. This international experience enables us to try completely different teaching methods: in Venice there are mainly lectures, while in Turku there are mainly laboratories. 

What makes a DJD special? Tell us about your international university experience. 

On the one hand, you can experience different teaching methods, which is always interesting, regardless of the double diploma. The universities of applied sciences, for example, are quite different from our universities: they are built around practical experience. Even professors, instead of giving lectures, supervise workshops and are points of reference during practical activities. This is certainly the type of experience that is appreciated in the world of work. 

On the other hand, studying abroad is an opportunity to get to know other cultures and traditions, and not just the ones of the host country. For example, I live in student housing with 60 students and for a while I was the only Italian person there. When you live in an international environment and with international students, you learn a lot about other cultures – I’ve learnt about Easter traditions in Romania, Dutch festivals, and German ones. 

Tell us four things you should “take” with you when you prepare for this experience.

  1. Bear in mind that it’s always worth trying. There was a time when I felt disheartened because I thought I wouldn’t be able to finish my exams in Venice before leaving for Finland, but in the end I managed to do it and I’m in Turku now!
  2. The willingness to put yourself to the test. When you are abroad alone, you need to be brave and try to make new friends and try new things. This is also true for Erasmus programmes 
  3. The willingness to leave your comfort zone. I think you should actually seek discomfort, because that experience will help you learn to face all sorts of situations
  4. moka pot (the Italian coffee maker). I forgot to take one with me, so I had to buy one, since I couldn’t do without it! 

Let’s talk about universities: what are your favourite places in Venice and abroad? 

Venice certainly has its own, special charm. The Campus in Via Torino (Mestre) is a very modern place, just like the Turku Campus. I have experienced studying in both campuses and I must say that, although they might seem similar at first, they have been designed in very different ways. The Campus in Mestre is aesthetically pleasing but not always convenient (for example, there isn’t a canteen); the one in Turku is planned for the students’ convenience (so there are study rooms and a canteen), but – well, it just isn’t Venice. 

Imagine your future: where do you see yourself in 5 years? 

In five years’ time I would like to be working in Italy, in an international company with a multicultural work environment. 

Author: Rachele Svetlana Bassan / Translator: Joangela Ceccon