• Sami Bakaitis

Why did I fly to Bologna during a pandemic?

I have just returned to the UK after spending about 3 weeks in Bologna. But a lot happened in those short 3 weeks, and I mean a lot!

How did you get there?

I booked my flight with Ryanair a couple of weeks before my departure date with a crazy £9.99 ticket from Skyscanner.

Before checking in I had to sign a declaration form of where I will be staying and for how long. However, no one checked this at all.

Upon arrival I was told that I would be tested to make sure that I was Covid-free, again, no one checked when I had arrived. I did get tested myself when I arrived just to be on the safe side.

When I left the airport my friend Stefano picked me up on his scooter which was both terrifying and amazing!

Stefano sitting happily on his scooter
Why did you go during a pandemic?

I am in my third year at university which means I am doing my year abroad with Erasmus. Due to the pandemic, my university urged students not to travel to their host universities.

As a result, all teaching activities are online with teams. In conjunction with the online lessons, textbooks were needed in order to aid in lessons. However, some of my textbooks weren't available online or couldn't be delivered to the UK, so I decided that this would be a good excuse for me to travel to Bologna.

Of course, this wasn't the only reason. My friend Stefano (who was mentioned in an older blog about learning Italian) had an apartment that I could stay at, which meant that I did not need to worry about finding a suitable hotel.

I also wanted to visit Bologna just in case there was another lockdown or the pandemic got a lot worse!

I understand that it might seem dangerous or even selfish to travel during a pandemic, but I took all the necessary precautions in order to protect myself and others. I followed government guidelines in both countries and when I returned I tested again with a negative result.

This kit was given to all passengers on this train!
What did you get up to during a pandemic?

Quite a few things surprisingly. Many landmarks were still open to the public such as churches and museums. Of course, you had to maintain social distancing, but I was able to take amazing photos and videos!

St Luca Church at night

NOTE- You can find a lot of these videos on my last blog where I made a short film!

I also spent time with my new housemates who showed me the Italian lifestyle. This meant learning all the hand gestures and making a truly authentic spaghetti bolognese.

Although, I did have lectures to attend. So, that did take up most of the week which was annoying; but I still need to pass my year abroad!

Did I get it ?

NOTE! Italy is different from the UK now as you need to constantly wear a face mask when in public. Although a hassle at first, I quickly got used to it!

I was also lucky enough to visit Cuneo and Pisa which are both equally beautiful!

My friend Elisa who I had met before lockdown was amazing and showed me around Cuneo in all its beauty!

We walked through bustling high-streets, where we had mouth-watering hazelnut ice-cream, to very high hill tops where we sat on a big bench (thats right you heard me, a BIG bench).

Me (normal-sized) on a bench (Not normal-sized)
Conclusion - Was it worth it?

I was happy that I flew to Bologna amidst a pandemic. I was able to purchase the textbooks required for my Erasmus courses and I was able to make new friends. I was also able to experience a lot of the Italian culture even though I had to constantly wear a face mask and be aware of others.

I have also drastically improved my Italian speaking skills and the ability to make tasty bruschetta, which is a massive bonus :)

This experience showed me that even when something seems impossible (like traveling during a pandemic) you shouldn't let outside factors stop you.

In the end, do what makes you happy.

A beautiful sunset view from my terrace!

If you haven't already, watch my short video on the whole experience in my previous blog post or on youtube!

Thank you for reading and have a productive week!

The Productive Pilgrim


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