November 29, 2018

Careers in Venice

As many students will know, the first term of an undergraduate’s final year is mad busy for graduate scheme and internship applications. It’s also when undergrads who don’t yet know what they want to do after graduation begin to panic and seek careers advice. All of this career stress, and we leave to spend this crucial term in Venice, away from key professional networks and university services. Are we crazy, or is it manageable? It may surprise you to learn that the Warwick in Venice programme recognises how important this term is and provides plenty of support for career planning.


At the end of second year, we had a careers advice session at the Warwick campus, where we were encouraged to start thinking about our postgraduate options, and to begin applying to desired schemes as soon as they opened in the Autumn term. When we arrived in Venice, our first weeks entailed a visit from our History Careers officer, where we were able to book advisory workshops with her, but also have one-to-one appointments with her to discuss any questions or thoughts we had. It was very reassuring to know that we were not being forgotten about by the folks back on campus, and that the History department remains invested in our future career aspirations. Those of us interested in the Civil Service were even able to meet the British Ambassador and other embassy staff in Rome! Many of the students here found the sessions very helpful to their decision making.


When it came to the more advanced stages of applications, things did inevitably get a little complicated. For those of us who had more of an idea of our future career paths, successful applications have entailed online tests, telephone interviews, video assessments, and assessment centres. Online tests of course are easy to work on whilst in Venice, but telephone and video interviews can be challenging if you can’t find anywhere private to do them. Fortunately, the Warwick palazzo often has a room free for students to use for this kind of thing, and I have even seen other students borrowing ties and shirts for video interviews!

 

If students are lucky enough to be invited to an assessment centre, this can be quite tricky. Our History tutors are very patient and understanding in letting us return to the UK for such interviews, or even is some cases to Brussels and other places. Financially, this jetsetting can add up. In most cases, firms reimburse travel expenses up to around £100, and can cover the costs of cheap accommodation near the assessment venue. Just keep the receipts handy and submit claims forms promptly. In any case, I think it’s best to have some funds to fall back on personally if you think you will need to travel for interviews during this term.


For prospective Warwick in Venice programme participants reading this, or History staff thinking about how to further help students in the future, career planning during the Venice term can be challenging, but it is not impossible. Of course, if you are dead set on a path, I would look into the application requirements beforehand, as some will require you to launch the application from the UK for security reasons. Students are definitely not left behind here in Venice and are given lots of support in thinking about their future and in applying for roles. Just remember, as personal advice, to set aside a little bit of money for potential interviews!


(Sorry this is pictureless, but I have no photos of my attempts at career planning!)


Charlotte Wilson, University of Warwick History Finalist


November 19, 2018

Charlotte Goes Travelling


Instead of the usual Reading Week in Week 6 of term, the Warwick in Venice programme has a Travel Week. Taking advantage of being in Italy, a focal point of much of our studies, we are permitted and encouraged to travel around the country and soak up valuable resources in the architecture, galleries, and libraries of key cities. I had held back visiting a lot of Italy before the programme, so that I could set off to visit Genoa, Florence, Pisa, and Rome with so much more excitement in this week.

Genoa

I set off to Genoa after trudging through the remnants of Venice’s acqua alta to reach the station. I eventually found my B&B for three nights in the city and was happy to find a shared kitchen in the building with facilities where I could make some dinner and save some money on my student budget. It was a mild evening, so I went for a walk around the old harbour, taking in the glittering skyline and the rows of stunning luxury yachts. After watching some Italian TV and enjoying a late morning, I made my way to the Piazza De Ferrari, where I looked longingly in the windows of designer boutiques and admired the Palazzo Ducale and Cattedrale di San Lorenzo. Then, I walked up to the Belvedere Castelletto to get a breathtaking vista of the city. The next day I headed along the Genovese waterfront to the picturesque fishing village of Boccadesse. For my last evening in Genoa, I decided to visit the colourful palaces which line Via Garibaldi, looking at some key paintings, and getting yet another excellent view of the city from the roof of the Palazzo Rosso.

Boccadesse

In the morning I got on a Flixbus service to Florence. Although taking a bit longer than a train, Flixbus is so much cheaper and was really helpful to my purse during Travel Week. When I was all checked in in the heart of Florence, I immediately set about looking at the sights, such as the Palazzo Vecchio, Ponte Vecchio, and the Chiesa di Orsanmichele, as well as some lovely Florentine dogs! As it was the first Sunday of the month, I managed to enter the Accademia for free and visit Michelangelo’s David, which is so much more impressive in the flesh.

David

The next day I dedicated to the Duomo complex. First climbing the Campanile, and getting vertigo in the process, and then seeing the Duomo and the Battistero, before finishing the day in the astounding dome structure by Brunelleschi. It really was a day for braving a fear of heights and steep staircases but was undoubtedly worth the trembling. For my final day in Florence, I took a day trip to nearby Pisa to see the famous Leaning Tower, and the botanical gardens. It was very entertaining to see tourists in various wacky poses all around the cathedral. In the evening, on return to Florence, I visited the Uffizi Galleries, traversing rooms and rooms of renowned masterpieces.

Florence

The next day was another Flixbus to Rome. It was beautifully warm evening when I arrived, so I visited the Spanish Steps and Piazza di Spagna which was bustling with tourists and locals alike. The Trevi Fountain was nearby and was certainly an amazing sight to behold. Waking up to a day of blue skies and sunshine, I started at the Piazza Venezia, and made my way to the Fori Imperiali. I spent so long walking amidst the collections of ruins and got great views of the Colosseum. I finished the day in the bubble and music filled Piazza del Popolo.

Rome

In the morning, I visited the inside of the Colosseum but quickly headed for the Vatican Museums. The museums stretch for kilometres, so I had to make enough time for them. After seeing the famous spiral staircase and the Sistine Chapel, I sat in the Piazza San Pietro. On my last evening of Travel Week before returning to Venice, I went to the top of the Altare della Patria for breathtaking views of Rome.

Vatican

I had an exhausting yet absolutely amazing Travel Week and I am very grateful to the Warwick in Venice programme for allowing and encouraging us to explore Italy and make the most of our time here!


Charlotte Wilson, University of Warwick History Finalist


October 31, 2018

Warwick in Venice leaves Venice

The Warwick in Venice programme consists of two site visits outside of Venice, which is a great way to see hidden historical and natural gems in the countryside of the Veneto region. One is to the city of Mantua in the final week, and the other is to visit two UNESCO recognised Palladian villas near Vicenza where we ventured to recently which were designed by Renaissance architect, Andrea Palladio. These villas have an underestimated significance to Venetian history, particularly in their economic and cultural functions.

Villa Emo

The first Villa we arrived at was the Villa Emo, which was bathed in morning silence and home to sprawling greenery, something not experienced often amidst the usual hubbub of tourists permeating even the furthest corners of Venice, and the uninterrupted urban maze of canals and palazzi. The Villa was completed in 1565 for the Emo family as part of a policy by the Venetian Republic to encourage patricians to move to the terraferma, or Venetian holdings on the mainland, following the War of the League of Cambrai from 1509-16, in order to produce agricultural and industrial goods. At first glance, it would be hard to view this Villa as one with agricultural purposes as, although flanked by acres upon acres of fruit trees and fields, it is assembled in an impressive classical Roman style. However, a closer inspection of the threshing area on the front, and a look at the contrasting utilitarian aesthetic of the back of the building, really indicate the primary agricultural purpose of the estate. Inside, every corner of every wall is decorated with the most spectacular frescoes which have been perfectly preserved. The images burst with colourful fruits and vegetables grown on the land, but also stay faithful to the piety of the Emo family with biblical imagery. Alongside the Christian, are frescoes portraying classical figures, such as the Muses. Inside and out, it is plain to see both the economic and cultural significance of the Villa.

Bassano del Grappa

After stopping for lunch in the nearby scenic Alpine town of Bassano del Grappa, which used to be home to a wooden bridge designed by the same Andrea Palladio until it was destroyed in 1748, we travelled to the second Villa. The Villa Godi Malinverni, the first Villa designed by Palladio, has both an early modern and a more immediate historical importance, serving as the British military headquarters in northern Italy during the Second World War. Bassano del Grappa also has significance as a battlefront during the World Wars. The Villa and the war cemeteries nearby have thus hosted several royal visits over the last century. The early modern agricultural nature of this Villa is somewhat lost now, as the gardens follow a more modern arrangement of flora and fauna. Nevertheless, the interior of the Villa still retains similar stunningly preserved frescos, but with a diminished focus on the biblical, and more of a personal feel, with depictions of various family members amongst the classical imagery. Sitting beautifully yet formidably atop a hill with breathtaking views of the countryside of the Veneto, this Villa was the favourite of many of the Warwick History students.

Villa Godi Malinverni 

To be shown a UNESCO heritage site of two stunning Palladian Villas in the serene countryside of the mainland which had a considerable impact on the economic and cultural activities of the Venetian Republic was certainly a welcome change to what can be an overwhelming busyness of the city. The regular site visits are a stimulating part of the Warwick in Venice programme, but to travel to overlooked sites hidden amongst fields and mountains brings another exciting aspect.


Charlotte Wilson, University of Warwick History Finalist


October 16, 2018

Finding our Feet

To kick off this Warwick in Venice blog is a piece on finding our feet in our first week, discussing the challenges we encountered and the help we have received from the Warwick History department.

View of the Doge

I had avoided visiting Venice before this term abroad in order to really relish the surprise and beauty of the city when we arrived at the start of term, but perhaps this had some practical drawbacks. Landing at Marco Polo airport and lugging our heavy suitcases onto a boat to the city, and then up and down some of the hundreds of bridges Venice sports, was certainly an interesting and muscle-building experience, and we were relieved to be met by our landlord who helped with some heavy lifting near the apartment we had found with the help of the Warwick in Venice coordinators. We found our apartment fully furnished with all we would need to cook and clean for the term, maps to navigate the city, and wellies to wade through acqua alta if it ever occurs.

Basilica di San Marco

The next morning introduced us to Venetian supermarkets, and how to become comfortable shopping for our diets abroad, without the familiarity of Tesco or prices in sterling. This aspect of moving abroad is perhaps the most overlooked challenge, as the reality of not being a tourist isn’t immediately apparent and the delicious Italian restaurants are all too convenient. But on a student budget, identifying the Venetian equivalents of our home favourites was key. With this hurdle cleared, we enjoyed walking around Venice as tourists before checking out Warwick’s Palazzo Pesaro Papafava. We took in the beauty and overwhelming crowds of the Piazza di San Marco and the Rialto, enjoyed some sublime gelato, and noticed that the city is home to many friendly dogs.

Castello District

The Warwick in Venice programme is different from most study abroad experiences as the work completed over the term is summative and the staff are from Warwick University. That Warwick has its own palazzo with staff has made navigating the course content, library locations, and contact with the home campus much easier and less daunting. Having a lecture around the churches of Torcello and seminars in a Venetian palazzo, made for a much more authentic and meaningful learning experience, and it’s certainly engaging to see the buildings in your seminar readings from your apartment window. The Warwick staff have also helped us settle in to the student social life of Venice, by using their links with Ca’ Foscari to put us in contact with Italian students looking for English-speaking buddies. As a group we arranged some drinks in bars popular with Venetian university students and got some tips for settling into the city.

Grand Canal from Fondaco dei Tedeschi

Perhaps the hurdle many of the Warwick in Venice students were concerned about for the term was the use of Italian. Having learned it for two years, we have an idea of the language and have been better able to engage with and settle into Venice this past week. Of course, in many situations when our Italian knowledge hasn’t stretched far enough, Venetians have happily helped us in English if they have been able to speak it. I was even able to use some Italian to help fix my broken phone screen!

Piazza San Marco

All in all, there are some challenges to studying abroad, with the main issues of the degree course, finding accommodation, and speaking the language, but also including the menial tasks of food shopping. Fortunately, we have been prepped with a basic knowledge of Italian and have been guided fantastically by the Warwick in Venice coordinators in getting ourselves settled in for a stimulating term studying in Venice!


Charlotte Wilson, University of Warwick History Finalist



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