Alina Oksala - 2018: Politecnico Di Milano, Italia

Matkakertomuksen tiedot

Alina Oksala
Politecnico Di Milano, Italia
01.09.2017 - 28.02.2018

For the student from EU the only document needed for the host university was the Learning Agreement. Italian government may require doing a residence permit at a local ''post office'' or ''Comune'' for more than three months residency in Italy. However, it turned out that as an EU citizen it is not actually required, and eventually I never did that. In Italy it is also required to get yourself into the Italian ''social security system'' and get the ''Codice Fiscale'' (personal code) in order to live and manage life there. Politecnico does that beforehand for each international and exchange students, but in my case they made a mistake with my name (mistakes are everyday in Italy, prepare for that), therefore I needed to get a new personal code from the local ''Agenzia Delle Entrate Direzione'', which kind of Kela in Finland. In addition, if you want to use public health care, you also need to get into health system by going to some local health center, but with European Health Insurance Card you can use the public health care. I also had a good travel insurance from Finland, therefore I used private health care as well. Usually the staff in public offices does not speak English at all or just few words, so the communication can be a bit tricky. Doctors speak good English. However, Italians are usually very helpful even though there is a language barrier.

In Polimi there was a welcoming week for international students a week before the semester started. However, I was studying in Lecco campus and the welcoming week was only in Milan on the other campus. In Lecco campus there was only one day for orientation for new students, but it was enough I think. One thing to make sure, when you are selecting the programme and courses in Polimi is that there are many campuses around Milan, and you do not want to end up living 50km from the campus you have enrolled.

The semester started in the middle of September and the courses ended before Christmas. All of the professors and lessons were very good and most of them spoke quite good English as well. All the courses included group project work and some individual tasks. Within one course there were also a couple of field trips to the case study area. Some teaching methods were different than in Finland, but overall quite the same. In Polimi they use a lot of different software, such as GIS and hydraulics and geology simulators, within the courses. It was also common that professors can be late, for example, one hour from the beginning of the lesson, or the lessons are sometimes randomly cancelled and it is totally normal in Italy. Students just usually wait the professors in the classroom.

Christmas break lasted three weeks and it was also a sort of preparing for exams also. There were two exam ''calls'' meaning that the first was in January and the second in February. Therefore, if you have many exams you can divide the exams dates suitable for your schedule or/and re-take exams during the second call. All the exams were oral at the same time for all students. More specifically, all the students were in the same space and the professor sat in the front and asked randomly one student to give the exam to the front. One of my exam consisted of only two questions, and the other exams I gave a presentation first and then the professors asked some questions. In Polimi most of the students fail the exams on the first or even second attempt, since the exam usually consists of only one or two questions.

I had three/four courses;
otDivided into three parts including the following Laboratory for emergency planning
otTwo professors and assistants
otContent: ''Scenario modeling in hydrogeological risk involve a multidisciplinary approach in order to analyze, forecast and define the evolution of landslides and flood hazards. part of the course will focus on the application of geology in engineering practice mainly for landslide evaluation and erosion evaluation. The syllabus of lectures covers the topics within the slope dynamic, including related field of geomorphological analysis, groundwater hydrology and the application of technical geology to the solution of problems in landslide risk. For slope dynamics the main topics are: the geological studies and hazard assessment for localized event and for diffuse processes. A particular focus on hazard analysis will be presented. During the course an emergency plan for hydrogeological hazards will be developed, selecting a mountain area as a test case: the skill of engineering geology, acquired in Scenario modeling in hydrogeological risk, will be applied to solve a real case. 2.nd modulus attendants will become familiar with topics and major issues concerning an emergency plan for hydrogeological risk in mountain regions. A field case is developed throught the modulus. Topics: Early warning systems. Short-term morphological modelling of mountain rivers. Flood models (2D). Flood damage evaluation''

otOne professor, but included into beforementioned module
otContent: ''In the laboratory an emergency plan for hydrogeologic hazards will be developed, selecting a specific mountain area as a test case. One key objective of the laboratory is to make students understand the challenges implied in the development of atechnical support (the plan) to orient human decisions and actions under stress (related tothe crisis management part). In other words, the plan that is to be developed must comprise the more technical information, analysed and treated as shown in the previous course, and more managerial aspects, for which organisational and social factors are central issues. Furthermore, in the laboratory the patterns and characteristics of the built environment and infrastructures in the area of concerns will be analysed in order to assess their vulnerability in case of an extreme event. In fact, the following aspects will be treated in deeper detail:
?thow the plan can provide a support for the dynamic adaptation of decisions and interventions to the potential scenarios provided for the specific phenomena at stake in the test area;
?tidentification of the main vulnerable factors that substantially contribute to the final flood damage estimate. Among those factors, physical vulnerability of houses, bridges and infrastructures, social vulnerability of people and organizations, as well as systemic vulnerability will be carefully assessed. Such assessment will be the basis for the plan development.
?tidentification of reasonable actions in the face of a specific flood/complex hydrogeological event tree and making the best use of available resources; - analysis of the limit conditions beyond which the plan may fail and identification of possible flexibilities and open alternatives to tackle unexpected event development as well as unforeseen interactions with vulnerable systems. In the laboratory seminars will be offered, to present the actual work of professionals and officials in the field of civil protection´´

otTwo professors and assistants
otContent: ''Hydrologic cycle. Statistics in Hydrology. Risk assessment. Stochastic processes. Hydrologic catchment. Meteorology and climatology. Rain gauging.
Hydrologic balance. Hydrometry. Modelling aims. Rainfall modelling. Flood prediction.
Basin routing modelling. Flood routing. Flood mitigation. Purpose of hydraulic modelling. One-dimensional modeling of river flow. Basic differential equations and boundary conditions. Geometric representation of a natural channel. Physical parameterization. Head losses. Analysis of compound sections. Numerical solution for steady-flow processes. Brief accounts on unsteady-flow processes (already covered in course on Numerical Methods for PDE). Two-dimensional modeling. From flood hazard to flood risk. Sediment transport processes''

In Polimi they have ''modules'' meaning a combination of two or three courses related to same topics. For example I had a 16cr module (of the two first courses I listed) divided into three aspects and three exams as well.

For exchange students courses can be freely selected from first and second year courses, and I think also from other programmes than from the one you have been enrolled. I only took courses from the programme I enrolled. There were enough courses to be selected. Possibility for language courses were not so good, in Lecco campus there was only one Italian language course on Saturdays and they did not give credits for that. The language course also costs 100 euros for one semester.

Before and after the exchange period there need to be done Erasmus+ OLS language test online. It is compulsory but passing it is not required for being accepted for exchange studies. In addition, you need to make sure you will receive a transcription of records from the host university and eramus+ letter of confirmation after your exchange period. It was sometimes a little bit complicated to get documents from the host university since they take their time and sometimes do not respond your emails.

Cost of living in Italy, especially in Lecco, is a little bit lower than in Finland. I shared a private apartment with three other international students and paid for one room 260 euros including the expenses. I found the apartment from Facebook from a local apartment and house renting group. There were no school fees for Erasmus students. The university sport card costed 20 euros and it is valid for year. Every student needed to make a medical test in order to get the sport card and it took around one month to get the card. With the sport card there were many sport centers and even a skiing center available freely for the students. In addition, with the sport card we got discount of the Inter Milan football matches in Milan. In Polimi they also give you a student card which can be also used as master card, if you decide to open a bank account in Italy.

Scholarships, student allowance and loan from ''Kela'' and own savings guaranteed all the living costs.

Getting to know other students were easy just during the lessons and of course at parties. For me it was easy since my roommates ended up being my closest friends there. So I suggest to share an apartment with other people rather that getting your own. Just being active and social everything is going well.

The weather during winter in Lecco and Milan area is very nice, meaning the average temperature is between 5 and 15 degrees. Sometimes it was snowing or raining, but usually sunny. In Lecco there are very good outdoor sport opportunities; running by lake, hiking in the mountains and skiing (just 15km from the Lecco station by bus). I suggest this place if you are an active person!

There are obviously cultural differences between Italy and Finland. In Italy people are very open and usually very joyful. Food and wine are a big part of social life in Italy and in the evenings people gather around to eat dinner together. At the campus there was only one cantina and it was closed the whole first semester, so usually students brought their own lunch to school, went home to have a lunch or bought lunch from the nearest bar/café. In Italy there are everywhere these bar cafes, since the coffee culture is very important for them. If you order a coffee ''un café'' it is always espresso.

Traveling to Lecco I took a straight flight from Helsinki to Milan Malpensa airport and a train from Malpensa to Lecco. Railways are very good in Italy and you can go almost everywhere by train.

I would recommend Northern Italy for everyone. Politecnico Di Milano is a very good university in general and they have a variety of programmes and courses. Lecco is a very cute small town and Milan is easily accessible by train, for example for night life, culture and aperitivo. Trains are operating about hourly and takes 40 minutes and the ticket costs 4.8 euros. In Lecco there is not such a good public transportation, but it is easy to walk almost everywhere there. Italy in general is a beautiful place and people are so friendly and open. Usually they do things slowly and ''cosi cosi'' (so and so), and everything ''tomorrow'' or ''next week'' and say ''don't worry''. Getting documents and managing other mandatory stuff can sometimes take a really long time so do not loose your nerves immediately.

During the exchange I learned a lot of things from other cultures, not only Italian but also from other international students all over the world. I would recommend attending to all kind of events and travel across the whole country during the stay. Exchange widened my sight of the world and life. A very good experience recommended for everyone.