Volunteer’s money

One of the main things I was worried about before starting my EVS in Italy was whether the money I’m going to receive from the project is going to be sufficient. ‘Will I have to save on food?’, ‘Will I be able to buy meat only from time to time?’, ‘Will there be any chance of travelling?’ — those were some of the questions I was asking myself.

Eventually I also found some people online, ex-volunteers who did their EVS in Italy. I was mainly looking for Poles, cause in this way the information they would provide would be more adequate for me. One of the people I contacted told me, that I would probably have to save some money and be careful with it, that I won’t probably be able to eat meat every day (laugh all you want, but for a Polish person, meat is essential). Fortunately it’s not THAT important for me to eat meat each day for lunch (we don’t have evening dinner in Poland).

Anyway, to keep it short: a lot depends on your own needs, because I for example am not a person that goes out so much, so I don’t spend money on drinks, eating out etc. That makes it easier for me to save for other things and small joys, like nicer food from time to time. Also, you have to remember that not every volunteer receives the same amount of money each month. First of all it depends on the country you do your EVS in and then you have to also remember that different organisations handle money differently. Some will provide you accomodation that is already paid for, some will give you money and make you manage it yourself. Some will give you the full amount of money for the month, some will give you less, because for example you’re having lunches and dinners at your organisation every day (happens mostly when you work in retirement homes, refugee houses and so on).

If you want to know more about the amounts of money for each country you can do an EVS in, you will find it in the official Erasmus+ guide (available in various languages). And if you have more specific questions about how it really is for a volunteer in Italy (or in Bologna, more specific), you can write me in the comments or contact me via the Facebook page.

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Practical info

Considering the fact, that I have been here in Bologna for already 5 months, I think I’m a good source of information that a newcomer might need. That’s why I decided to put here some of my observations that might prove useful for someone who has just arrived here.

1. Avoid the bridge on via Libia
Bologna is a city of bridges (even though there’s not a single river in the city), so every once in a while you’ll have to cross them, but this one is especially tricky. For the bicycle users this bridge not only is a general b*tch for it’s “steepness”: there’s no bike path and the sidewalk can barely fit one pedestrian, so of course you have to use the street. And the street is so narrow that if two cars are passing each other with also you on the side, you’ll most definitely end up crashing your bicycle into the ridicuolusly high kerb. Trust me, I know. Just don’t use that way, there are others.

2. Take warm sweaters…
…if you’re planning to stay in Bologna over the winter. I haven’t listened to people when they told me and I only took one or two things that are really warm and now I regret not taking more. I’ve noticed a weird thing in Italian houses and apartments. They have no ventilation. Plus: they only heat up their houses up to 18-19 degrees (because apparently heating costs too much). All this results in having a chronic cold (in my case at least). I come from a country where the winter is real and we heat our houses up to 22-23 degrees usually. Italians start panicking when it snows a bit in the winter, but at the same time they don’t see a problem in freezing your ass off in your own house.

3. Don’t ever expect people to understand what bike paths are for
Bologna is a city of students and thus a city of bicycles (also because distances are not so big and driving a car around here is a true pain in the ass). Thanks to that there are SOME bike paths (don’t expect Italy to suddenly become the new Netherlands though, most of the paths end abruptly in the middle of the street). Usually they are just randomly drew on sidewalks, so invest in a bell/horn if you don’t have one yet. But even then people will not understand what is your problem when you honk at them. And if you run into a woman with a stroller she is more likely to tell you that she has wheels as well than to move away to the proper part of the sidewalk.