Outgoing: Rémy at Venice International University, Italy

Rémy Bisson is a second year Bachelor student currently studying sociology at the University of Bordeaux. From September to December 2020, he carried out a semester at the Venice International University (VIU) in Italy.

During his stay, Rémy had the status of Residency-Excellence Diversity Scholar recipient, a status that required close collaboration with the University Vice-Dean for the organization of many extracurricular activities.

Why did you choose to complete a mobility experience with VIU?

My reasons for choosing this university are various. The VIU offers a Globalization Program which I found highly interesting. This multidisciplinary program explores many fields of study such as Sociology, Anthropology, Law, International Relations, etc.

As for Venice, like many others, I had cultivated a romantic image of the city. I had only one desire  - to succumb to the poetic charm of the city and sail on the Grand Canal, between the Bridge of Sighs, the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute and other Venetian wonders. However, I was worried that it would soon be no longer possible to visit Venice before it was submerged by the Adriatic Sea. This reason is no longer relevant today since the city is now protected from flooding by the new artificial MOSE dike. Today you may still hear the city's alarm system go off occasionally in the event of Acqua Alta - don't worry, the apocalyptic aspect of this alarm fades after a while!

In times of a COVID pandemic, have you encountered any particular difficulties?

Surprisingly, I was somehow spared from COVID complications during my stay. The first few weeks in Venice seemed strangely normal. Venetians and tourists rarely wore their face masks, some courses were face-to-face (in compliance with health rules) and the museums, bars and restaurants, were open. You could almost forget the ongoing global pandemic. Unfortunately, reality caught up with us in the weeks that followed and all our classes were switched online. This online format was actually quite pleasant since we were small groups of about ten students per class. Outside of studies, we still had the freedom to enjoy the bars and restaurants until the curfew of 6 p.m.

What do you think makes VIU unique?

The uniqueness of the university lies in its special status. VIU is a consortium of international universities thus providing students with the opportunity to partake in a mobility experience where diversity is the keyword. It is the ideal opportunity to meet students from all over the world, and whose university training is incredibly varied.

What if you had to give three words to describe your experience?

Idyllic, strange and fascinating.

The best moment during your stay?

My British roommates and I really wanted to see Saint Mark's Square in flooded conditions. However, we thought that with the artificial sea wall it would no longer be possible. One day, as we were naively strolling through the empty alleys of Venice, we realized that the dike had not been lifted, despite the rising waters. So we ran to our apartment to put on our wellington boots and set off again to splash through the water. It was one of my first days in Venice, and I must admit that the privilege of seeing the deserted city from this unique angle amazed me.

Updated on 18/02/2021