Federico Del Grande

sky through my window
the tiny airport frankfurt hahn
cusanushaus this is where I live

The adventure begins

The travel itself was a wonderful experience, I had a playlist made by my best friends full of songs chosen by them to hype me up and accompany my trip, and even though due to corona I had to take a cab from the airport my plane landed at, Frankfurt-Hahn, to Trier because of the many rides that had been cancelled, I still found it enjoyable.

While waiting for the cab to come pick me up, I was able to find an Italian guy looking to get to Saarbrücken and I split my ride with him, and thatride itself truly was something, between the cab driver not speaking English and the Italian guy looking to buy weed online through bitcoins... but it sure was fun! Around 6 pm I, miraculously, made it to my dorm, the Cusanushaus, and was greeted by a very kind guy, who worked with the International Office and also helped me with my luggage; I was given my key and I thought that would be it for the first day. 

Beer with Yazan

Cheers to new friends

I was also lucky enough to have been put in contact with a guy living here in Cusanushaus (he's also a student reporter, he's super cool and you should definitely check him out, his name is Yazan Ramadan!) thanks to a friend of mine from Rome who was friends with him when he came here last year, and so, once I was able to recollect myself, on the first night of arrival I had my first beer with him, and I truly felt home, I felt I could do this for six more months and enojy myself, grow from this experience and try out a completely different lifestyle, even in a country with a language I don't speak, even far from my home, my friends and my commodities.
And boy, was I right, in just three weeks I was able to find new friends that I feel like I have known since forever, I found a new balance in this balanceless situation and I'm looking forward to what the future is holding for me!! 

Autumn Castle

Since due to corona we're heading towards a time when travelling is becoming more and more difficult and dangerous to do, my Erasmus friends and I have not been able to go around Germany yet, and it's probably going to be like that for a while. But still we were able to have at least one trip all together, and we decided to go to Cochem to spend the day in the gorgeous historical city centre and to visit the castle. We headed towards the gorgeous castle that dominates the city from everywhere in town, where we enjoyed the wonderful autumnal view of the yellowing vineyards all around. The castle itself was beautiful, the courtyard majestic, the architecture stunning: it was like a throwback in time.  Coming from a country with lots of historical sites from all ages and cultures, it was especially interesting to me to see a very different architecture style from a different time and space than what I'm used to.

Staying positive during the pandemic

To me everything seems to be working out positively here, while if I had stayed in Rome the situation would have been worse, even though I had no idea before leaving, and that just reinforces my point to make the most of our time, responsibly, no matter what we think might happen. In fact not only the italian cases spiked while I was here, but also all my family tested positive since October, and even though they're fine and I'm glad for that, if I had stayed in Rome I would have also likely gotten the virus, on top of staying in isolation for more than a month in my own room. On top of that, I really do feel like I’m growing as a person, and even through these rough times I am sure that we can find reasons to be happy and have fun. For example you can try to cook more, to explore more parks and to work more on your projects, while still being with your friends in smaller groups and having the best Erasmus experience that you can get right now. Everything is a big "what if", therefore we shouldn't prevent ourselves from doing something out of fear of what might or might not happen, but should cease the day like usual, just more responsibly.

Mainzer Dom
City hustel

Trip to Mainz

Before Christmas, and possibily before a harsher covid restriction, mz Erasmus friends and I really wanted to visit some other cities in our federal region. We bought a group ticket and spent around 10€ each to travel to the city of Mainz, hoping to visit the famous Christmas market. With little to no sleep, we went to the train station on Saturday morning and took the train to Koblenz. Once there we took a direct train to Mainz that took us little about three hours to reach there. We went through the main squares, visted the Dom and we hanged around the Rathaus. We also were able to eat three traditional salty and sweet pretzels and offcourse the most traditional modern German dish, that we have been living off as a group since our arrival in Germany since September; Döner kebap.

Christmas with my Erasmus friends

This year has been the first time that I wasn't able to celebrate Christmas with my family, and just like me also a bunch of other erasmus students had the same situation going on, therefore we decided to spend it together and make the most out of it. And boy oh boy, it was definitely the best Christmas I ever celebrated as an adult. And of course we were very covid safe and spent it just with the people that we always hang out with, also coming from the same two dorms.

We decided to have a secret santa gift exchange, in which I was able to gift one of my best friend a wonderful sweater saying "just do nothing", which refelects very well his lack of usefulness in this society. And I got an orchid form another friend of mine, which made me extremely happy science I love houseplants. For christmas Eve we decided to have an international dinner, where each one of us had to make something traditional from our country. With some wonderful help from my Italian friend Miryam, I was able to make tiramisù and Lasagna from scratch, we even made the ragù for it. And not only it was super fun to make it with her, It was also worth seeing the appreciation from the others. It was also super nice to have a piece of home for all of us in these difficult times.

About me!

My name is Federico and for this semester I am an Erasmus student in Trier.  This space is where I am going to report my experiences, my struggles, my new friendships, the places I will visit and all of that!

I come from Rome, which is where I was born, where I live and where I study. Im currently pursuing a mixed major of civil engineering and architecture. I am continuing the course also here in the Hochschule Trier.   My focous is utterly towards architecture and its derivative.  I am looking forward to learning the German way of designing and planning!!

As far as my personal life goes, I am a gay 22 guy who loves to hang out with friends more than anything else.  I love architecture and taking pictures of it.  In addition to that, I love watching youtube as well as TV series (my all time favourite being How I Met Your Mother), I love tattoos (and I'm looking forward to getting a new one here). Just like every typical millennial, I love houseplants and love caring for them. In gerneral, I am regular student loving life and living like there is no tomorrow. 

I hope that this can be the first one of many reports and that I'll be able to share my adventure no matter the coronavirus, the struggles at the university and everything that will come!

If you wish to see more pictures and stories from me, this is my Instagram: federico_del_grande

Tschüss!!

me and my friends the night before my departure
me and my best friend that same night
picture of the coliseum I took a few months ago

First Impressions

As the first month has already gone by, I've been able to experience how widely different the lectures here at the Hochschule are, in comparison to those in Rome. I spent the first week here attending the activities of the Welcome Week for International students organized by the Erasmus office, and on top of that meeting my new friends. I was soon able to meet my "coordinators", meaning a couple of students from my same major, who helped me to figure out what courses to choose according to my learning agreement and their experiences with professors and subjects in general. 

It was only two weeks later that my courses started, and not even all of them. That in itself I foud it very disorienting; compared to my university where the students know exactly when the courses are going to start months before they are suppose to, here I found out that many professors still needed time to tell their students a starting date, and often they did tell them just a day in advance. So, organisation wise, I have to say that the German stereotype for now has really let me down!

My Room tour

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First Trip to Cochem

First Trip to Cochem

On the 24th of October we took the train from Trier Hbf at 13:31, after having lunch together with some pizza bought at Kaufland, clearly showing off the broke Erasmus student lifestyle. We then arrived in Cochem at 14:15 and decided to walk alongside the Mosel for a while, before going to have an ice-cream, my first german ice-cream, which, coming from Italy, I had some doubts about it, but it was actually pretty good!

Strolling around the old town

The old town square took me back to the medival period then we decided to walk alongside the Mosel for a while, before going to have some ice-cream, my first german ice-cream, which, coming from Italy, I had some doubts about, but it was actually pretty good! After the castle, as every good Erasmus student would agree on, it was time to have a drink: We went to an Irish pub near the Mosel and started drinking absinth at 17:00. After having a good time we went back to Trier, had dinner together at a Chinese place and had a lot of fun. Since with the new corona regulations it's going to be harder to travel, I am so glad we could at least have one day off all together with my friends!

Deserted plaza

Erasmus and COVID 19

After almost a month in lockdown here in Germany, I thought it would be appropriate to write about my experience and my opinion on it. I would like to be helpful to anyone thinking of going out of their country right now who might be wondering if it's going to be worth it or not: my short answer is yes, but let me elaborate more. Since the 2nd of November every pub, restaurant, gym and cinema had to shut down, together with many other activities. On top of that there's a big restriction on the amount of people coming from different households that can meet up, both in public and privately. Even still, my experience here has been nothing but great. Of course the night life has slowed down dramatically, and of course I miss hanging out with my group of erasmus friends all at once, but compared to the situation in many other countries or even bigger cities, I consider myself extremely lucky: this Covid situation is not going to end soon, and therefore my advice would be to make the most of it anyways, and not waiting and hoping for things to be ideal for you to do your Erasmus experience.

Travellers nightmare

After resting at the riverside for a while we decided to go back home, and that's probably, when we had the most fun. After arriving in Koblenz, the worst thing that could happen to a traveller occured to us, the wonderful ingenuity of the German train system. Allthough we did go to the right platform, the train wagons split and our offcourse started to go back to Mainz. After switching 3 more trains, some panicking, some drinking on the streets and a life time we finally were able to head back to Trier. Moral of the story; Sometimes things does not go according to a plan but if you are with the right company something bad will trun out to be the most momerable ones. And I guess that's just part of the Erasmus life.

End of the year recap

Being the end of the year it is easy to let memories and thoughts about this past 12 months take over, and since this is my last article I also thought it would be fitting as an ending. Without even talking about nine months prior of me coming to Trier, I think That these three months have given me a lot to cheerish. As I have previuslz stated, I think The Erasmus experience was well worth the leap of faith we all had to make and I am sure that in the coming two months, I will have plenty of time to make more wonderful memories.

Kontakt

Kontakt

Federico Del Grande

Instagram

View from my room
Pier on the Moselle

Reality strikes

But then, and only then, once I entered my room, the idea of being alone for six months hit me, and it hit me hard. It wasn't the room itself to cause me that, it was something very peculiar, very specific: the fact that in the room there was no pillow. It was the first time I was sleeping somewhere where I had to buy my own pillow, and since I didn't feel like going out, exhausted after the trip, I finally understood the meaning of being able to rely on myself and myself only, of taking care of myself even when I didn't feel like it because no one else would, of being alone.
I laid on my bed, pillowless, and I stayed there for at least an hour, in silence, but then something happened. I went to close my shutters, since I wanted to be in the dark, and it was then that I was able to actually look at my ceiling: a glowing moon and plenty of stars were attached to it, I suppose by the previous, kind owner of my room, and there I felt not so alone. I felt the students before me who must have felt the same way as I did at some point, and in the kind gesture of finding comfort in hanging lights in their own room I thought "hey, if they could do it, why can't I?!" and it put a smile right back on my face.

woodworking/modelbuilding workshop
wall of models in the architecture building
presentations of the the first models with professor Sill

New approach to architecture

About the courses themselves I was able to find so many kind professors who spoke English to me even though the lectures are in German, and also many kind group buddies who help me out greatly understanding the tasks and objectives of the courses!

Specifically about architecture I found a complete different approach to the subject from the Italian one: I'm used to a very rational, step by step process to design something, and I'm also used to drawing everything first through various softwares, while here what I got so far is that it's very important for the professors to make us visualise shapes straight away, usually by building models and reworking them every time to better understand concepts on a volumetric scale from the get-go.

And even though it's been a process for me, I've loved building models in the workshop provided by the university, since we have nothing like that in Rome! Of course the first day I got there I hurt myself sanding part of my fingernail away, but I'm sure that that's part of the experience. As of now I've also enjoyed being able to follow courses about softwares like Archicad, since it's not common to have courses revolving around that in Italy, and I'm greatly looking forward to starting a couple more courses in the next few weeks!

From ROME to TRIER

I chose Trier for my Erasmus experience for two main reasons. One as I wanted to do my Erasmus in Germany, because I thought it would be very interesting and offcourse wanting to improve my german. The second reason was becasue of a dear friend of mine, a person that I really look up to. He come here last year for the same reason and he highly suggested it to me, both because of his experience at the Hochschule and because of what he was able to do while here. What is it like to be done in such a small city, especially coming from a big metropoly such as Rome, for six months?

Porta Nigraa
UNESCO-Weltkulturerbe, Kaiserthermen
Lets go bowling

Trier as a tourist

Trier is a very pretty city to begin with, between the wonderful roman monuments such as Porta Nigra, the Kaiserthermen and the Costantinian Basilika; the beautiful natural sites of the river, the mountain on which the main part of the Hochschule is located, and the forest next to Petrisberg; the lovely city views both in the historical city center and the more modern parts of the city.On top of that there's usually many many places to drink and have fun at, even though I could only experience them until the beginning of November, where the newer covid restrictions shut down most of them. The city is filled with young people in the weekend and it can be hard to even find a spot to sit sometimes! Other than many places for drinking there's also a bowling place where I had the chance to go to, there's billiard places, clubs for dancing and much more.

But the thing that I surely can appreciate the most about Trier is its location in Germany, especially for Erasmus students: it's in Rheinland-Pfalz, very close to the border shared with Luxembourg, and therefore it's very easy, in normal times, to travel around Europe. In fact the city has a wonderful train station that can easily take you anywhere around here in Germany, like Köln, Düsseldorf or Munich with a couple of switches, but also Luxembourg or Frankfurt, where you have easy access to cheap planes to have a wonderful experience of Europe in its entirety.  Being so close to France, Belgium and the Netherlands it is also very easy to get there, and I really hope that I'll be able to travel a bit more once this pandemic emergency backs down, hopefully before going back to Italy! Overall I would highly suggest it as an Erasmus destination, because while being a small, chill and cute city it also offers a lot both in terms of good education at the Hochschule and in terms of having fun and an easy time to travel around!

For the holidays things have slown down a lot, and there is for sure a lot less to do here in Germany due to corona, but I also appreciate the time I have for self care and resting before the upcoming finals. If I could back in time I would still choose Trier, even during the pandemic and even with me not speaking german, just because of the people I was able to meet.  As far as my studies go I also really appreciated that I was able to find a couple of courses very different from my usual ones in Rome, regarding more interdisciplinary subjects and projects. I also definitely struggled and I still am with a couple of courses and with one professor in particular, but I think that comes naturally with going to universityt. I am also very fond of the collegues that I was able to meet and the enrichment I got from this experience. I am really looking forward to the future, and I think that this erasmus has definitely give me more tools career wise, but mainly for my own personal growth I'll forever be thankful for the opportunity I had and I highly recommend that you try it too!!

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