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Integration project

For several years now, the International Office has been actively involved in an Integration Project that consists of various initiatives aimed at publicising the University’s image as a welcoming and friendly institution for International and European students who choose to begin or complete their studies in Pisa. Some of the most significant initiatives include orientation and welcome meetings, cultural meetings and international parties.

Orientation and welcome meetings

These meetings take place in the first few weeks of each semester (usually between September and November and again between January and March) and are designed to welcome new international students to Pisa and to discuss the logistical, administrative and socio-cultural aspects of living abroad in Italy.

Moving away from home and from family and friends, to a new and unfamiliar environment where you are exposed to a different way of life and a foreign language can be challenging for students. In both the academic and social sides of student life, there are various problems or difficulties students may encounter. The Welcome Office believes that an orientation session in order to support the integration of students to their new home is essential to help this transition into their new home.

With this in mind, the meetings have 3 key objectives:

a. Understanding: the staff at the International Office are committed to promoting the cultural awareness between new international students by creating opportunities in which they can interact and get to know each other.

b. Clarification of any concerns: students are provided with detailed information about logistical and administrative aspects related to university life (such as, where to find various buildings, the services available with the Cartapiù, the academic calendar, etc.), as well as those related to daily life (such as, emergency numbers, where to find museums, cinemas and theatres in the city, etc). There is always the opportunity for students to discuss any queries or doubts with staff members, who they are invited to stay in contact with for the duration of their studies in Pisa.

c. Awareness: students are reminded that feelings of loneliness and homesickness are very common amongst younger students who are on their own in a foreign country or even a foreign continent for the first time, where they are forced to speak an unfamiliar language with a risk of not being understood. During this session, the staff of the International Office are joined by the mentors from the Centro di Ascolto (Listening and Counselling service) who participate in these orientation meetings to offer their availability to new students who may need support.

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Cultural meetings

Once a month, the International Office invites students of different nationalities to present their country of origin to the International unit. A small group of students will present their land, its culture, its language, its traditions and often share a musical or dance performance. Students also share some typical dishes of their country for everybody to try at the end. The aim of these cultural meetings is to raise cultural awareness amongst the staff in the International unit of the origins of incoming international students. So far, there have been presentations on Vietnam (October 2016), Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan (February 2017), Azerbaijan (March 2017) and Mongolia (May 2017).

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International parties

Twice a year, the International Office organises an International Party (in December and May) for international students. The aim of the party is to share traditional food, dances, music and cultural aspects from countries around the world. The most recent International Party hosted guests from 27 different countries such as China, India, South Korea, Mongolia, Cuba, Costa Rica, Peru, Venezuela, Ethiopia, Honduras, Vietnam, and many others.

For this event, students are invited to bring a typical dish of their home country to share the flavours with other people.

As well as sharing food from around the world, some students will also share presentations of the most important aspects of their country, through images, videos and traditional music. This gives students and members of staff the possibility to learn more about the unique features of different countries.

At the end of the party, students have the opportunity to chat and get to know each other, as well as watch students perform traditional dances from their own culture. The most recent party also featured a quiz which dealt with various geographical and cultural general knowledge questions. Students were split into groups by numbering their name tags upon arrival, so everyone had the opportunity to mix with different people.

The international parties are therefore lively and fun events in which students have the chance to meet new people and expand their knowledge of other cultures, whilst encouraging them to challenge any timidity by speaking in front of a large audience, often in a foreign language. Over the course of the evening, participants will have had the opportunity to absorb cultural understandings spanning across all the continents, within just a few hours in the same room.

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Ultima modifica: Ven 07 Lug 2017 - 13:49

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