Erasmus+ is one of the main programs of the European Union in the fields of education, youth, training, and sports, and contributes to strengthening European-Palestinian relations in the field of education and academic exchange. The program aims to develop the capacities of higher-education institutions, strengthen the relations between Palestinian and European institutions, and open academic exchange opportunities for students and employees.
Riccardo Corradini is the first Erasmus+ European student to be hosted by the Islamic University in the Gaza Strip. A student at the University of Siena in Italy, Corradini tells us about his experience, his achievements, and the new insights he has acquired within the Erasmus+ program.
“I’m a medical student at the University of Siena in Italy, and I’m in the last semester of my sixth year. I arrived here last February for the first time, and I’ll stay for four more months,” explains Corradini. “When I learned that I would go to Gaza, I felt that it would be a great opportunity because I expect to learn a lot and to contribute to emergency surgery as there are so many such cases due to the complicated situation here. Moreover, this experience is very useful to overturn a number of stereotypes about Gaza and to show the pleasant reality of everyday life that usually is not told by mainstream media.
“I received a lot of support from the Islamic University and my colleagues, and I was able to easily engage with them. I was surprised by the development of the university campus and the wonderful buildings, especially the medical school, which meets all the students’ needs. There are laboratories and places that contribute to the development of medical skills, including the library, with books from all disciplines.
“In Italy, I spent my time in the hospital, but here you can find a specialized college of medicine and more practical methods of education, and this is very helpful for me.
“I do not feel different from the other students; on the contrary, I can communicate easily with my friends and colleagues. It is very helpful that students speak English and that the curriculum is in English. Moreover, my teachers and colleagues prefer to speak in English to make me feel comfortable.
“I am still in touch with my university and colleagues in Italy, and they are impressed with what I’ve shared with them. I’m sure that I will gain unique skills and experience through my studies in Gaza, and I believe that the duration of my time here is sufficient as I would like to go to other places to gain a variety of experiences. Previously, I studied at Al-Quds University in the West Bank, which was also a useful experience.
“Some of the main challenges I face here are related to the electricity cuts, but there are generators that work continuously. I feel safe because I see that my colleagues from Gaza have witnessed three wars and still have the ability and persistence to survive.
“I would advise other students to join the Erasmus+ program in order to share their experiences with others, become more mature, and learn about the facts behind many things that are happening in our world. I can truthfully say that I have become more open to others and that my confidence level and skills have increased.”
Article photos courtesy of the author.
Riccardo Corradini, 25, is the first European exchange student in the Gaza Strip as part of the Erasmus program. His home university is in Siena, Italy, where he is in his sixth year of medical school.