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10 years after the Erasmus: Gonzalo's trip to Venice and down memory lane

In 2009, Gonzalo Boronat decided to spend his Erasmus at Ca’ Foscari, in a city that gave him the chance to discover himself and his passions, while building friendships that stood the test of time. After ten years, Gonzalo and his Erasmus friends decided to come back to Venice all together, to relive those special months in Italy. 

Gonzalo, who is now a filmmaker, decided to immortalize these trips in two videos, capturing the deep relationship between his buddies and the city, the magic of the calli and the canals and the joy of re-experiencing fragments of their university life.  

How did you get the idea to come back to Venice with your Erasmus friends and film a video? 

I think I’m speaking for all the members of the group when I say that the Erasmus in Venice has probably been the most incredible year of our lives. We only have good memories of our stay on this island - so many new experiences, new friends from all over the world who became extremely close in such a little amount of time. 10 months felt like a lifetime to us, in a good way, because the trust and love between us are so strong. I believe that Venice played an important role in the creation of our deep bond - spending an Erasmus here is completely different than choosing to stay in a big city like Rome, Berlin or Paris. For us, Venice was an incredible place, a city like no other, mesmerizing, magical. 

Ten years ago, during my Erasmus, I was majoring in History and to be completely honest I wasn’t sure about what I wanted to do in the future. Coincidentally, that was also the time when I started filming my first videos, totally amateurial and rebellious, but they marked an important turning point in my life.

Venice changed us, it made us evolve, it gifted us memories we will never forget and friends who we still love even after not seeing them for 10 years. For these reasons we will always feel the urge to go back, to try and relive those precious moments.

Five years ago, me and four other friends took our first “commemorative trip”.  Visual storytelling was already part of my professional life, so we decided to film a short video that could somehow tell our story and capture our feeling for the place - it was incredible!
This city is the only place in the world where I’ve experienced taste-recognition memory, drinking a Spritz with Select after so many years or eating a slice of pizza in Campo Santa Margherita. I’ll never forget what I felt when we got off the train and out of the train station, it was one of the most special moments in my entire life!

Tornare a Venezia from Gonzalo Boronat on Vimeo.

Even though we’ve all met again multiple times in the past decade, we had never gone back to Venice all together, so we decided to take a second trip. Once again, we sort of went back to living the same things we experienced 10 years before - we realized that the connection between us and the city had not changed, and it never will. That’s why I felt the need to create a second video, using one of the songs that marked our year in Venice, which coincidentally also conveys what we feel when we think about the city, Gioia Infinita (Infinite Joy, ed.). 

How was your experience at Ca’ Foscari?

Amazing! At the time I was studying History and the university gave me the opportunity to delve into topics I was really interested in, like ancient history and the history of the Venetian lagoon. Ca’ Foscari also gave us the chance to take part in a soccer championship between teams from different universities, we called ourselves “gli Spagnoli” the spanish boys, although we didn’t last very long!

We met so many other Ca’ Foscari students and we would go to every University event - in particular, the Welcome Days have been such beautiful moments where we began knowing each other and realizing what was in store for us - the best year of our lives! Venice is the most beautiful and incredible place in the whole world, being able to enjoy this city was a true privilege! 

Can you tell us something about your career after completing your degree? 

After graduating in History, I decided to study Advertising and Filmmaking so that I could dedicate myself to my true passion - making videos and audiovisual material. I started working in small productions and then, with time, I found my place in advertising and as a documentary director. I managed to turn my hobby into a real job, and this is why I sometimes forget this is now my actual job - I’m extremely lucky to be able to say something like this! 

Is there something you will never forget about your Erasmus year? How has your vision of the world changed after this experience? 

I will always take with me memory of the people I met, who basically became my family for a year and, to this day, they remain a very important part of my life. At the same time, I’ll never forget how this experience made me discover who I really am. If had to use one word to describe happiness, I’d choose “Venice”.

This year I’ll get married and I sincerely hope I’m on the right path, but coming back to Venice - after 5 and then 10 years - made me realize how time flies, how different things were when I first came here and how life is made of many stages - savor each one of them to the fullest and live every days as if it were your last, because none of what you’re experiencing is ever coming back.
But memories will always be there for us, to remind us of how amazing life truly is. 

Do you have any advice you want to give to those who are considering moving abroad to study? 

My advice to you is don’t allow any kind of doubt or uncertainties to stop you, just go! Travel, get out of your comfort zone and take advantage of your young age to fly far away, to consider if what you’re doing now  is what you want to be doing in ten years and most of all, to know yourselves.
Sometimes we’re so influenced by elements in our lives - our family, friends the city we live in - that when we leave all that behind for a while we realize there’s so many other things in the world and that we need to make the most of our life while we can. 

Francesca Favaro