Post by Ivet.

Hello everyone, I am Ivet, first year medical student armed with enthusiasm, hopes and dreams in my first few months spent here in Bari! Being still a freshman, I would like to share my experience with you and if you are thinking of applying to our university- to help you by providing you with information and practical advice during your first steps as a newcomer!

Once you have arrived, enrolled and probably even attended your first lectures, there it comes a time to ask yourself: “OK, I am here but… where am I supposed to stay?” Tricky question, especially if you don’t speak Italian- like me. In that case you must either be very lucky, and I seriously mean insanely LUCKY or armed with a very good Italian dictionary containing the most common phrases related to apartments, renting and payment details- something that- I must warn you, is not a universal formula for success, especially if circumstances catch you by surprise.

If you decide to adopt the individual approach mentioned above, however, here is something you would (maybe) like to know! The first place to start looking for accommodation is on the announcement boards in the Student Secretary Office where you have to perform the enrollment procedure. As you have already probably guessed, the first obstacle to your well-being is the announcements themselves- literally hundreds but invariably written in Italian! Chill out, I have good news. The accommodation options you will find there abound! They vary in price, location of the apartment, number of people you can share it with and some even have the expenses included in the total price which will spare you the effort of worrying about deadlines, methods of payment…etc!

Now… more about the cost itself. Bari, being located in southern Italy, can provide prospective students with cheaper (with respect to bigger and northern cities) accommodation options along with high-quality education in one of the most respectable medical universities in Italy! Most medical students live near Policlinico di Bari where our lectures take place which, logically, is a bit more expensive area with respect to renting. Costs vary between 150 and 400 euro per month per single room and most students pay about 220 euro +/- expenses included. Contracts usually last for one year. You may opt to rent a studio (which I personally would not recommend during the first year and I will later explain why) or a room in an apartment with other people- usually attending the same course which can be explained by nothing but the fact that more or less we all arrive at the same time and we are all looking for the most convenient accommodation!

As to why I would advise you not to rent/live alone during your first year of studies- well, moving abroad and starting from scratch so far away from your home, friends and family can be a rather painful experience. Finding yourself alone in a new place with new people therefore would not help much in your adjusting better to the new environment. Living with others, on the other hand, will distract you a bit from all that and judging from my own experience will be a nice start to make wonderful friends, to get to know new cultures (better and in a more profound way) and of course to share the fascinating experience of being a medical student with someone that will be a dear friend, I dare say, for life (I love you girls)!

One thing I must warn the male medical-students-in-Bari-to-be, however, is that most landlords prefer girls for tenants probably due to the established (unfortunately by prejudice) principle that girls tend to clean and tidy more often. Now- warning for everyone that intends to rent an apartment here in Bari- landlords are particularly sensitive to people that don’t speak Italian (or speak it but with accent) usually because they either don’t speak English themselves or because they think we are Erasmus students! Yes, Erasmus students here have risen to the fame and intimidating power of the Loch Ness monster- a mysterious beast no one has ever seen but fears immensely (that is the right time for you to laugh because when you arrive it won’t be very funny)!

Another smart approach would be calling the thousands of announcements on the streets and the buildings that are literally everywhere! You will easily recognize them- they are usually brightly colored and relatively big stating “AFFITTASI” with a short description of the apartment and a phone number you can call. Unfortunately neither worked for me! I was struggling to explain, to ask, to beg them to talk with me but that would not do! I was an alleged Erasmus student send from some unknown evil force to destroy their apartment. That is why they would either apologize or directly hang up the phone! How did I manage to find a place to stay you would ask? Well, I am blessed with the most wonderful, caring and good friends here from day 1, so I consider myself a very lucky person, indeed! So a friend helped me select the best option then called in Italian and in 2 days we set a world record for the fastest renting of an apartment in the history Bari!!!

Although renting an apartment is the most common option, there are two more I will briefly discuss. The first one applies only to those that are 100% sure they will be admitted here in Bari and it is going to a collegio the procedure for which should be completed until August. The other option is living in a campus (Campus X ) which requires no previous research and as far as I know accommodation there can be provided any time but at a higher cost. Both options I will discuss in a subsequent post.
This was a short description of how to find accommodation in Bari and I hope it answered at least some of the questions that trouble every prospective student’s mind. In a later article I will relate my personal experience of living here: wondering whether I am still a tourist or already a local!