I’ve been living in Valladolid since April 2017: this city is filled with interesting nightlife, cultural events, attractions, great shopping and good-tempered people. Here you can easily go everywhere on foot and discover new interesting places to visit and people to get to know. Moreover, it is easy to find a good place to eat, somewhere you can taste typical Spanish dishes, such as a very good chuleton and lechazo, tapas and delicious desserts. In addition, here in Castilla y León autonomous community, you must try some of the most tasty Spanish (and European) wines.
Nevertheless, I am here to pursue the European Joint Doctorate called urbanHIST in order to acquire a high-level international profile in the field of 20th century urbanism in Europe. After some experiences in Italy as a grant researcher, now is the right time for me to start this new enlightening experience. I also want to take the opportunity to study and work abroad. I sincerely believe that the knowledge and experience I can gain in this international exchange programme could add value to my personal qualities and skills and will contribute further to my professional carrier goals.
But what does it mean to be enrolled in this PhD programme, travelling around Europe? Am I ready?
Before starting this adventure, I knew that living in a foreign city is supposed to push you outside your comfort zone. Also, my experience would be defined by my interactions with other people and I would not miss out on important opportunities to immerse in the culture.
I’m learning a lot about Valladolid, also by the way people talk: their accent, their intonations, the sheer speed with which they spoke. In addition, I speak everyday all - Spanish, English and Italian and it will make me comfortable to change my way to relate with people and help me to become a man and consequently an academic researcher. The Instituto Universitario de Urbanística (IUU) of the University of Valladolid’s people embraced me in a way that I didn’t expect: I’m feeling as home. They are hard-working professors and researchers but if there is a problem, I can find someone to solve it, every day we share experience and knowledge. As far as I’m concerned, I find really interesting all the initiatives of the Institute, such as IUU’s Fridays, a series of events that contribute to the enrichment of my knowledge about the city and different disciplines, such as sociology. In addition, I really like the idea to share my work experiences among all the partners of the European Joint Doctorate: flying across Europe, the interdisciplinarity and interculturality of the programme are the factors that I like most. In fact, nowadays, it is quite important to have professionals that can help you with your research. During the meeting in Weimar in May, I found it very useful.
Nowadays, after some months of this Spanish experience, I can say that it is an amazing cultural and eye-opening experience, working while I discover new places is really nice. Even if sometimes I think about home and people who I’ve left in Italy, I am sure that this is the right way I want to take.
So to those of you debating whether to leave the comforts of the life you have built for yourself in your country, my unconditional answer is: Go.
Author: Federico Camerin
Photo: Federico Camerin