In the 2022/2023 academic year, Ca’ Foscari welcomed over 300 international students from almost 60 countries who have chosen to study at our university.
Among them are Hildo Leonardo Sousa Andrade, a student from Brazil who has enrolled in the MA in English Studiese, and Stephanie Jo Lindsay, a student from the USA who has enrolled in the MA in Environmental Humanities. We have asked Hildo and Stephanie to tell us about their experience moving to Venice and getting ready for their university life at Ca’ Foscari.
How did you hear about Ca’ Foscari and why did you choose it?
Hildo: As I was looking for a university to study abroad, it didn’t take long for Ca’ Foscari’s name to pop up in my search. The more I read about it the more I became impressed by the work conducted by the Department of Linguistics and Comparative Cultural Studies, not only because the number of languages covered in the curriculum was immense and varied, but mostly because it showed a remarkably interesting and fresh approach to English language teaching and learning.
As soon as I started my English language teaching career I knew I wanted to take a step further and go abroad for my master’s. Why then, you may ask, go to a university in Italy to study English? Well, the answer is quite simple actually: first, because Ca’ Foscari is incredibly well-ranked among the best universities in the world to study Modern Languages, and second, of course, who wouldn’t like to live in Italy? I have to say that I am beyond thrilled with the opportunity of exchanging and building knowledge with some of the best professors in the field during this academic year, and at the same time having the chance of growing as an individual as I get to live in one of the most incredible cities on Earth!
Stephanie: I initially limited my MA search to U.S. Landscape Architecture programs that offered a specialization in coastal conservation. Once I broadened my horizons beyond that specific degree, I found Ca’ Foscari’s MA Environmental Humanities program online. This aha! moment was the first time I had heard of this multidisciplinary field. When I read further about Ca’ Foscari’s program, as well as the water-focused efforts of NICHE (then under a different name), it stole my breath away.
The opportunities at Ca’ Foscari synthesize my desires, ambitions, interests, and hopes for the future with my present abilities and undergraduate background. Venice, a world renown arts and humanities capital — situated on canals, a lagoon and the sea— faces serious challenges concerning its dynamic relationships within the ecosystem. As a result, Venice and Ca’ Foscari are a center where the arts, humanities, scientific initiatives, activism and scholarship unite to debate, explore and address these relationships and challenges as well as what communities worldwide can glean from them. I can’t imagine a better learning environment to immerse myself in!
Why did you choose to attend university abroad?
Hildo: After taking my undergraduate degree in Brazil and working for many years there as a teacher, it was clear to me that it was time to take my career to the next level and take my master’s degree abroad: this was the perfect occasion for me to begin a new adventure, a very well structured and thought out one, If I may say. I had lived in Italy 9 years ago, and ever since I returned to Brazil I knew that I needed to come back. Since I was highly passionate about the Italian language and its culture, the decision to attend university in Italy was obvious to me, not only because I would get to return to a place I was very fond of, but most importantly because I would have the chance of broadening my horizons as an educator by learning and having discussions with professors and students from all over the world.
Stephanie: Great question! It was not my original intent to study abroad for my MA, but honestly, I didn’t know the right fit until I found it (and it wasn’t what I originally expected). Everything fell into place once I aligned myself with the decision to apply to the Environmental Humanities program at Ca’ Foscari University. If someone had told me, even a year ago, that I would move to Venice, Italy in order to earn an MA degree in an emerging, multidisciplinary field of the environment, I would have been shocked (with glee).
What’s your favourite thing about Venice or the university so far?
Hildo: I just love having classes all over the city and having the chance to explore Venice as I go to university. It’s just the perfect match, for leaving home and attending classes never gets boring as there is always something beautiful to be discovered around the corner, and every time I get to my final destination I get to learn something new, rethink concepts and explore new possibilities for English language teaching!
Stephanie: I really enjoy the accessibility to extracurricular academic events like the 3-day, in-person “Talanoa Forum: Swimming Against the Tide” which was organized by artist Yuki Kihara and co-hosted at Ca’ Foscari University by NICHE (The New Institute Centre for Environmental Humanities) as well as “Toward a Sustainable Attitude: Aesthetics, the Arts, and the Environment” which was co-hosted by VeDPH (Venice Centre for Digital and Public Humanities) with NYU Tandon and Universität Bern. Icing on the cake, these conferences were hosted in breathtaking, historic spaces like Aula Magna in Ca’ Dolfin and Aula Baratto in Ca’ Foscari University’s main building. Participating in opportunities like these is one of the big reasons I chose Ca’ Foscari for my MA.
What is the thing that surprised you the most when you first got here?
Hildo: As cliche as it may sound, I had forgotten how crowded Venice can be sometimes. We’re talking about one of the most visited cities in the world, so I should be expecting that. Yet, I was surprised to find myself lost in the middle of this organized craziness full of people gazing at gondolas and trying to make ever-lasting memories of their time here. At some point, I would get impatient, because I had classes to attend, and getting through a crowd of tourists can be stressful, but most of the time I just found it beautiful to witness people living their dream for the first time. Eventually, I found my way around the city and discovered the right bridges and alleys to take if I was in a hurry.
Stephanie: I was surprised by how much traveling by vaporetto would affect my equilibrium. I am still getting my “sea legs” almost 2 months later, although I find myself wobbly less often. I also thought it would rain considerably more often once October arrived.
Do you have any tips for future international students?
Hildo: If I could give a piece of advice for degree-seeking students I would say: believe in yourself and make sure to set small achievable goals! First of all, congrats on making the best decision of your life! The process you may face as you prepare to live abroad may be a very challenging one, as there’s a lot of paperwork to provide, letters to request, and a lot to organize, but don’t let yourself get carried away by all of that! Chin up, and believe in yourself! You’ve got this!
The list of things that you have to do until you set foot in Venice is quite huge (and it does keep growing once you get here), but take a deep breath and set small achievable goals every week! You will see how this process can get a lot less stressful for you if you do so! And most importantly, remember: Venice is the place for you and you’re just a few months away from living the best experience of your life!
Stephanie: Here are a few practical tips. Pay close attention if you are withdrawing money from an ATM because there are different types, and some independent ones have exorbitant fees for withdrawing, if you have an international account. Apparently, counterfeit money is not uncommon in Italy, so if a bill doesn’t feel right then ask for another one when you receive change. It happened to me recently, and I had no clue.
Are you an international student at Ca’ Foscari? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story.
Our university is in the heart of Venice and open to the world thanks to its vibrant international community, programmes in English, double and joint degrees, and hundreds of partnerships for mobility and internships.
Our International Office is happy to assist incoming students as they get settled in their new life in Italy. Students can participate in a dedicated International Welcome Week packed with social events.
Our Buddy Programme puts new international students in touch with experienced student volunteers who are excited to share their knowledge and time. Our tutors are ready to help international students with anything related to their academic experience.
Are you interested in studying here in Venice? Check out these 10 good reasons for international students to choose Ca’ Foscari!