Tuesday 26 December 2017

The Difference Between Working Abroad and Studying Abroad

Christmas is almost over, we just have to devour another round of Christmas dinner today (St. Stephan's Day) and then we can start the countdown again! Next up is NYE, I love this time of year, cosy-ing up beside the fire with tea in hand, in your warm fluffy pyjamas; whilst also celebrating and eating your body weight in food everyday! It's nice to have these few days off. If you don't follow my social media, then you won't know that I am in fact home in Ireland for the holidays. I've two whole weeks in the Emerald Isle away from all the mosquitoes in Catania! Today I am here with an interesting and eye opening topic, which will definitely interest you if you plan to live abroad.

Working abroad and studying abroad have brought me two completely different experiences, however this could be due to the fact I have lived in two polar opposite parts of Italy for both, however, today I am here to explain the differences I've faced.

1.  Bureaucracy 

This word makes me flinch every time I hear it. Studying in Bologna allowed me to dodge all the bureaucracy in Italy in terms of forms to be filled out, a possibility of residency here, health care, you name it. However as my job's wages are seen as a student grant in the the eyes of the Department of Education, I am therefore not a tax payer here, leaving me without a lot of benefits, one being a proper resident here. Saying this, I work Monday to Friday and get paid a decent wage here once a month. To me it's a proper job, but to the eyes of the government my wages are a student grant. So depending on what your job is here whether it be my version, and the version of a tax payer it's different. I didn't have the university to help me this time, I had to do it all myself, going to different parts of Catania to apply for things, trying open a bank acc, try do tonnes of things, only being turned away because I wasn't a "resident" because I wasn't a tax payer. So if I need to go to a doctor I'll have to pay the private fee unlike the average Italian who get it free as they pay tax. Maybe I'm lucky I don't have to pay it? I just don't get the same benefits as the average Italian. However the only good thing I can say is the fact I'm a European citizen and if I have an emergency, I can get treated for free with my EHIC (European Health Insurance Card).

2. Time

Erasmus was so much fun, having the time to do as much as you wanted, not having to go to class because there was no roll and they didn't care if you went. I remember for my second semester there, I never went to class, I bought the book (well I illegally printed it out fully in a photocopy store for like €8) and I learned it, passed my exams and all was well in the world. So I could really do what I wanted with the time I had in Bologna. Here, as I work, I obviously have to go to work every day so organising my days isn't as easy as it was when I studied in Bologna. I'm not complaining though, I bloody love my job here.

3. Travelling

In my first semester in Bologna I had travelled to 5 or 6 cities, my first, -we'll say semester- here in Catania has allowed me to travel to 2 places, Rome and Taormina. Living in Sicily has made me see how difficult it is to travel around Italy as I have to get an aeroplane to wherever I want to go to -leaving me having to really see flight prices and times. Back in Bologna I could hop on any train and it would take me somewhere in max 3 hours. But I'm determined to travel more in the next half of the year. I miss travelling SO much! Davide and I have some plans for March time so fingers crossed it goes to plan!

4. Money

This is something I absolutely LOVE about working here, I have money and I can live comfortably here in Italy, I remember in Bologna I used up all my savings in the first two months, my student grant ONLY covered my rent and my Erasmus grant only came in two instalments, one being when Erasmus was over! So I lived quite a poor life in Bologna, many a time I only had €10 to live on.
Here I feel like a new woman! In the last two months I've definitely had a few bumps along the way, with having to spend money on flights to return home for family reasons and having my phone stolen and needing to fork out money. Even with that happening I was still capable of getting by off my wedges. So money is just the best thing about working here.

5. Friends

As I'm not studying anymore, I'm not in the university here, I came here alone and I work with people over twice the age of me. So making friends has been quite a struggle, unlike in Bologna. I made such an amazing group of friends and also attended an Erasmus dinner every Sunday which was just the highlight of my Erasmus, so I just loved it. Here all my friends are my amazing housemates, two Italians and one English, we all click so well together and I just love living with them, my doorman has the biggest heart and always greets me with a massive "Ciao Bella!" and a hug. In the school I've really clicked with the teachers I work with. One in particular we message each other on a regular basis. She once brought me home from work as my bus hadn't come for two hours! (yes busses here are shite) but she is just a woman with the biggest heart. So although my friends aren't like my group in Bologna, I love the close group I do have and to be honest that's all I need.

So there are contrasts to working and studying here -in my experience- good and bad, but I guess it's the same in every country, including Ireland. I'm just happy I can support myself here without asking my family for help, the sense of independence is just wonderful. My close nit friends here are all I could as for and I know I'm so lucky. My job is just amazing and I love it everyday more. I laugh in almost every class with the kids I teach, they think I only speak English, little do they know I understand every bit of Italian coming from their mouths 😂.

So even though I don't have as much freedom as being a student here, I'm still getting an amazing experience, just a different type.


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