TRAVEL REPORT - WHY ROME AND WHY LUISS? 1. PREPARING FOR EXCHANGE. Luiss Guido Carli University - spring

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1 TRAVEL REPORT - WHY ROME AND WHY LUISS? The Eternal city, Rome is the world s historic center full of impressive tourist attractions that we have seen at least in movies. Rome belongs to the region of Lazio and with almost 3 million residents the capital of Italy is one of the most populated cities in Europe. The atmosphere is relaxed and hectic at the same time and the beauty of the city view is breathtaking. You will not be bored since there are always new areas to explore even six months is not enough to see the whole city. The weather is warm especially during the spring semester, which is definitely one reason that affected my choice. 1. PREPARING FOR EXCHANGE The selection process to the university was clear and easy. After I had been selected to Luiss by Aalto I got good instructions on how to enroll myself in the university. I received an (already in April though I was doing my exchange next spring) where the application steps were described. First I had to do an online application from which I got a confirmation to my . In addition to online application I sent a photocopy of my passport, signed transcript record, application for accommodation, provisional learning agreement and a few photographs of myself to Viale Romania. When Luiss received the documents I sent I got an acceptance letter and general information about the spring semester. On the first day at Luiss we received a file where you could find all the important facts about the examination period, enrolling into courses and other practical issues. We also got our badges that you need in order to get into the campus. After a brief introduction session there was a fancy welcome event where we had the chance to get to know our fellow students. We had to choose the courses within a week from the first day. During the first week students had the chance to attend several classes to see whether the courses fulfilled their expectations. After that we made the final choices. There were not many bachelor courses to choose from

2 in business and economics but we could also take courses in other departments (Law, International Relations and Political Science). The registration process was completed online and students were allowed to choose as many courses as they wanted which they could then drop during the semester. 1. ACCOMMODATION I lived with three roommates in Via Alfonso Borelli in Policlinico. I got my apartment through the CTS organization that rents flats for Erasmus students from private markets. Our apartment was nice but the price was also quite high - my room was 650 for a month. Despite the costs it was still worth it. Our balcony view from the 9th floor was amazing and the area was safe. Our home was located near Policlinico metro station that was only two stops away from the city center. We could also walk to Luiss and most of the exchange students lived in the same area near Piazza Bologna. Our landlord Antonio was a gentlemen and he helped us if we had any problems. Most of the exchange students rented their apartments through CTS organization and were quite satisfied with the overall process. In most cases landlords insisted that the payments were made in cash and usually no visitors were allowed. Areas close to the city center are quite safe though a lot of students were robbed - so be aware of pickpockets. You should also keep in mind that women are not recommended to use busses at night or to walk alone but the subway and taxis are a safe option.

3 2. EXCHANGE STUDIES I chose four bachelor level courses which were each worth of 8 ECT credits. I enrolled myself into courses from three different departments; Business, International Relations and Political Science. I found the Business department the easiest one whereas courses in the International Relations department were the most difficult. The host university allows exchange students to choose courses freely but you should make sure that Aalto accepts the courses you are about to choose. There are not many courses in English but if you know Italian there are plenty of options to choose from. In the following chapter I will briefly introduce the courses I attended. Business Organization This course was about finding the right structure for a specific type of organization so that the costs are minimal, information flow is effective and the tasks are handed into to the right person. The subject was totally new for me, which made it interesting. There were two three hour long lectures per week but the professor did not take our presence so most students did not attend the classes. A few case studies were presented in class but for the most part lectures were based on the book so you could easily study the course material by yourself (most students did not found the lectures useful). Required readings consisted of the course book and a few articles. The book was easy to read and I did not found the subject difficult though I had not studied it before. Our grades consisted of a group project and a final exam and both of them accounted for 50%. The project was a 20 page written document where we were supposed to describe a venture capital firm s history, structure and SWOT-analysis and then make suggestions to improve the structure. My group found the project quite difficult since the instructions were vague and we could not found enough information about the firm we choose. After finishing the report we were supposed to present the project to the class. The final exam consisted of multiple-choice questions and a short open question. It was very easy if you had read the book and most students received high marks. I would recommend this course if you like studying by yourself and if you are interested in management and HR. This course provides you with basic knowledge about the most common business

4 organization structures and how they influence the bottom line. History of globalization This course was extremely interesting since the professor, Gianni Toniolo was one of the best I have ever had. His style of teaching was unique and different from other professors. There were hardly any slides provided so we had to take good notes. Toniolo expected us to know the basics of micro- and macroeconomics and some students had a hard time understanding the course materials because the professor did not explain basic formulas and models. Financial crises, the First Globalization, capitalism, globalization backlash and the Second Globalization were the main issues covered. Course readings consisted of articles and a history book which you needed to learn in order to get a decent grade. I found the book very interesting and quite easy especially since I have studied history before. This course provided me with good general education about globalization linked to economics and politics. Also current affairs were discussed during the course which was a big plus. For instance, we did our group presentation about the Ukraine crisis more specific, about how the crisis stands for globalization and on the other hand how we can see it as a globalization backlash. The final grade consisted of a midterm exam, two group projects and a final exam. Questions asked in the midterm exam were mostly from the lectures but in the final exam the professor expected us to have read the course book and the articles in detail. If you were not satisfied with your grade you had a chance to take the oral exam in addition to the written exam. Toniolo was quite fair with students and let us to retake exams or to do optional tasks if necessary. All in all this was my favorite course mostly due to the exceptional professor and interesting subject matter. Markets and Strategies This course based on several real life case studies that showed us different strategies that firms absorb in different environments. Case studies were extremely interesting and covered a wide range of industries. At the end of the course professor Devetag wanted us to understand why certain firms do well and why others are forced to exit the market. We studied different types of markets and looked at the managerial choices available in a certain type of situation. There was also a lot of comparison made between firms in the same industry: for instance, we scrutinized the difference between low-cost airlines such as easy jet

5 and Ryanair. The topics covered in class were mostly familiar to me (game theory, cost functions, path dependence, value added analysis, market entry and exit etc.) but it was interesting to discover how firms have actually used these typical strategies in their operations. In the beginning there were a few lectures on theory after which we started to go through the cases. There were two group project that accounted for 34% of the final mark. Each group of four students had to study and present two cases. As I mentioned before the cases were intriguing and there were no difficulties in understanding them. The final exam was based on the cases presented in class so there was not a lot of studying to do if you had attended lectures. International Relations This course was extremely interesting because for a long time I had had the urge of studying political science. The focus was on understanding different theories such as realism, liberalism, constructivism, marxism and alternative approaches. Current issues such as the Ukraine crisis was also covered in classes. I developed better understanding of global politics through studying basic IR paradigms and learned to understand how economic factors are related to political ones. The subject fascinated Professor Marchetti so the lectures very interesting and there was a lot of discussion between the students and the professor. Studying materials consisted of two books one was about different IR theories and the other one applied the theories to practice. The professor used slides as the base of the lectures but they were not provided for the students so it was necessary to take notes. 3. FREE TIME AND OTHER INFORMATION The first few months I spent in Rome were all about getting to know the city and visiting all the famous tourist attractions. My favorite ones were Fontana di Trevi, the Colosseum and the Pantheon. They are amazing at first sight but before you know it you are accustomed to even the most spectacular buildings. Rome is such a big city that even six months is not enough to see all the places Rome has to offer. Though the most popular tourist attractions are placed in the heart of the city there are

6 several other areas worth visiting. We spent a lot of time for example in Monti which is a bohemian residential area near the city center. There you can find cute coffee shops, little boutiques and good restaurants. There are also famous flea markets where you can find good quality vintage clothing and accessories. The atmosphere is totally different from the crowded city center of Rome. Another neighborhood that my friends and me fancied was called Trastevere which is located in the west side of the Tiber, just a walk from Colosseum. The area has also become quite popular amongst tourists but it is not as crowded as the east side of the city. The best restaurants and bubs in Rome are located in the narrow streets if Trastevere. The prices are also a bit lower than in the city center so it is a great place for students. Another area that students favor is called Piazza Bologna. It is near Luiss Guido Carli as well as the public University La Sapienza. Most exchange students lived in Policlinico and Piazza Bologna area so naturally we ended up spending a lot of free time there. If you are offered an apartment there I can guarantee you that some of your exchange friends will also live there. One of the best aperitivo places (Momart) is situated near Piazza Bologna and definitely worth visiting. We went for aperitivos at least twice a week since we just loved the concept. I stayed in Rome the whole time except for one visit to Finland but some students did a lot of travelling. In case you are interested in seeing other places in Italy besides Rome you should choose courses where it is not compulsory to attend classes (the practice varies in Luiss depending on professors). The student organization ESN organizes a lot of trips to different cities but since I had travelled in Italy a lot before my exchange I focused on enjoying the beautiful Rome. For example trips to Venice, Sicily and Naples were very popular among exchange students. Furthermore the student organization arranges visits to museums, churches and other interesting sights. And then there is a student party almost every week with different location and theme. There is a lot of activities especially during the first weeks so you will have difficulties in choosing which ones to attend. How to be active in Rome? I wanted to continue doing sports also during my exchange so I figured out the options of doing alternative sports. There was a gym at the university but it was not free of charge and the prices were quite high; about 200 euros a month and the prices were the same almost everywhere in the city. What is more, also the instructed sports classes were really expensive so I ended up exercising on my own. There are many beautiful parks

7 where you can jog and I found that very pleasing since the weather and the views could not get any better. Some of my friends enrolled themselves in Luiss football or volleyball team that practiced several times a week. The university was quite restrictive with the election criteria but if you have played e.g. football as a hobby you should not have a problem with getting into a team. In case you don t find a pleasant way to do sports you should not worry - you will definitely do a lot of walking in case you end up in Rome since the public transport is not reliable and there are many places where the public transport does not operate. We basically walked about 5km a day. 4. FINAL COMMENTS I had been in Rome as a tourist several times before my exchange so I was quite surprised to notice that the image of the city changed completely after living there. It is not easy to get from one place to another since there are traffic jams everywhere, people do not speak English, the houses are not as tidy as they might look from outside, it is crowded everywhere and there are many pickpockets. These are the things that started to annoy me after living there for a couple of months and I realized how well everything is organized in Helsinki. But then again every place has its pros and cons. In order to do better in Rome it is definitely a plus if you can speak at least some Italian. There will be students from all around the world in Luiss and probably in your apartment so you will learn a lot from different cultures. It was interesting to see how different nationalities came along together. My English definitely improved since there were only two Finnish people besides me. At the beginning I had to find out everything by myself in a totally new place so learned to trust myself since I could not rely on anyone else. Living abroad is always a great way to get new perspective in your life. You will not come back as the same person that you were when you left but then again after returning you will realize that things here are exactly the same as they were six months ago. All in all I spent five amazing months in a city that has almost magical atmosphere because of its long history. The university is the most amazing I have ever seen and I would rank the level of education as high as in Aalto. The city is hectic but absolutely beautiful - you can spend months just wondering in this outdoor museum. The food is amazing and there are

8 restaurants in literally every corner. You can travel to the north and south of Italy easily by train and the city is not far from the capitals in Europe. Thus, I can warmly recommend Rome and Luiss to you.

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