Bologna: A Great Option for Your International Exchange


Updated on Jan 08 • 4 minute read

Bologna has long been known as the cultural center of Italy, which is nothing short of phenomenal, considering the country also boasts such renowned destinations as Florence and Pisa. If you’ve never had the pleasure of visiting Bologna, you’ll find that its cultural offerings are enough alone to call for a return visit. And if this will serve as your introduction to the city, you’ll surely wonder why you’ve never made it there before.

And in steps the wonders of an international exchange. Not only will you have the opportunity to study at one of several renowned educational epicenters, but you’ll be able to explore a culture as rich as its foods.

Therefore, let’s explore a few things that you need to know about this fascinating city, and why it could be a great choice for your international exchange.

The Red, the Fat and the Wise

If you know anything at all about Bologna, then you may have heard about the city’s three nicknames. While many locales sport fun names like the the “City of Lights” or the “Big Apple,” Bologna, always unique, is a bit more eclectic.

The Red: This name refers to to Bologna’s numerous historical links almost as much as it describes the terracotta-colored buildings that line its streets. This city was often a revolutionary hotbed for communism, with a council that actually governed the town after World War II. It has also been known for its helping hand in matters related to feminism, civil rights activism and much more. To learn of additional aspects during your stay, be sure to visit the Museum of the History of Bologna, also known as the Palazzo Pepoli.

The Fat: While this nickname may be somewhat obvious, you still may not completely understand how amazing the traditional, local food is! Many of their tastiest dishes include such delicious culinary inventions like gnocco, fritto, tigelle, mortadella, ragù alla Bolognese and tortellini, all originating in Bologna. If you really want to have a traditional, Bologna‐style meal during your exchange, be sure to indulge at Osteria dell’Orsa.

The Wise: This final nickname obviously draws its origins from the city’s most respected school, the University of Bologna. This world-class university was the first institution of higher learning throughout all of Europe. Today, the entire city seems to function around the university, with so many buildings scattered throughout that the city itself seems to be one giant campus. Additionally, the number of international students who opt to study at the University of Bologna for their international exchange is quite high, making it a true “international student city” to the highest degree. You’ll be hard-pressed to find cultural diversity of this kind, as it is continuously included among the highest-ranked universities on the planet.

Student Life in Bologna

The life of a student in Bologna is a remarkable one. As you can probably imagine, studying in a city with such remarkable educational options will be sure to bring along a whole slew of benefits. With student discounts, associations and competitive housing, it’s really no wonder that so many student choose Bologna for their studies abroad.

Associations: With a plethora to choose from, Bologna’s student associations offer all sorts of ways to keep you interested in your studies, as well as ensuring that your social calendar stays full. Some deal with biking, which is the main mode of transportation in Bologna, while others cater to sports, art, cinema, foodies, juggling and more. Many also focus on people's rights, gender equality and other forms of activism. AIESEC also offers you the chance to meet other international students, organizing a multitude of events and activities.

Discounts: Everyone likes to save a little bit of money, and if you’re on a student budget, then there’s no better time to take advantage of those student discounts Expect savings at cinemas, theatres, gyms, swimming pools and even at the local supermarkets! Bars offer very cheap drink specials, along with all-you-can-eat buffets, typically under 7€.

Housing: Of course, perhaps one of the most important decisions that will greatly impact your student life will be made before you even relocate to Bologna. And yes, that will involve finding the ideal housing during your semester or full year abroad. This will involve beginning your search a full three to four months before your move, ensuring that you have time to find a space that will meet your needs. Also, be sure to use a trusted rental platform, as that you’ll also receive alerts when a property that matches your description is listed, giving you an advantage over the competition.

Exploring Bologna in Your Free Time

Music: If you’re afraid you might miss the music back home, there’s no chance of that in musically inclined Bologan. With not one, but two concert venues right in the city center, you’ll be able to witness everything from local performances to touring acts. You’ll find concerts of all musical genres, and you might even discover a new favorite!

Nightlife: If you’re wondering about Bologna’s nightlife scene, it’s the legendary place of wild nights and early mornings. Bologna boasts dozens of clubs, such as Cassero (a gay‐friendly awesome spot) and Centri Sociali (located just outside of the city center). When hunger calls, you can indulge on tempting cornetto or pizzetta from the hidden bakery in Via Del Borgo Nuovo, which opens around 4 a.m. every morning, just in time to welcome in the revelers of the night.

Museums: But if clubbing isn’t your thing, or you just want to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon exploring, be sure to visit Mambo (Museum of Modern Art) on this day, because it’s free for students. And don’t forget a handful of Bologna’s other cultural museums, such as the National Picture Gallery (Pinacoteca Nazionale), the Medieval City Museum (Museo Civico Medievale) and the Archaeological City Museum (Museo Civico Archeologico), which are all free every day.

Whatever it is that is drawing you to the alluring city of Bologna, you will have a nice amount of time to explore its culture, meet its people and dine on its delicious food. So secure your housing, apply for your Stay Permit and pack your bags. Bologna awaits!

Ready for your adventure?