21 and I’m British. I’m in my 3rd year of my 4-year undergraduate in English Literature at the University of Exeter.

I decided to study at VIU incredibly last minute! Exeter became a member university three days before the deadline to submit my choice. I had initially decided to do a year abroad to take some time to travel and had settled on Montana in America. I chose this initially because the choices for my degree were limited, and although I am British, I have an American mother and so have American citizenship. Montana appealed to me since I had spent so much time in the US throughout my childhood and wanted to opportunity to live and study there for a year. However, when VIU became an option, I was immediately divided. VIU was in Italy and the opportunity for cultural exchange was incomparable. The diversity of the courses was also incredibly appealing to me as I was eager to have the opportunity to study under different disciplines. Additionally, when I received the email from my university, I was in Morocco on holiday with my friends with little to no access to WIFI, so initially, I decided that it was too last minute. Obviously, I changed my mind! I sent frantic emails to my university and managed to get in contact with someone, (this was all happening around 7 days before Christmas day), I was luckily given an extension until I was back in the UK and could redo the lengthy application process. So, to summarise why I chose VIU, for me it was the exciting and adventurous option I had been looking for but had failed to find.

My time at San Servolo has been a defining period for me, it has been my first experience living abroad which I think gives you a keener sense of independence and a more spontaneous approach to life. I have made friends with students from around the world and have travelled with them (as much as Covid has allowed for).

Further, I was selected as a RED scholar for my second semester at VIU which has been an amazing experience. If others are applying for VIU and are thinking about applying for a position I cannot implore you enough! I have worked alongside my other wonderful RED scholars and Professor Luca Pes to create incredible interdisciplinary and intercultural results. Our role is to organise weekly Tea2B’s and encourage students to get involved with the VIU community. For example, this term we had a lot of students from Tsinghua University who couldn’t attend in person, so a big part of our work was making sure they were involved. Also, another integral part is running the student website. I am particularly proud of the magazine section of the VIU community website which we created this semester.

I would recommend VIU to anyone looking to really immerse themselves in a new culture and have the opportunity to study alongside students from totally different disciplinary backgrounds.

For a long time, I was set on doing a law conversion course and studying to be a barrister. However, since beginning my year abroad and even before then I’ve slowly been thinking about other possibilities. I am very interested in pursuing a career in the publishing industry, or perhaps marketing. Rather idealistically I would love to write and publish my own work, this is the dream really.

Outside of studying my main passions are travelling, reading and eating good food! This year has been incredible for all three! As a literature student, I am not often able to read for pleasure and so this year has been a welcome break from my typical consumption at Exeter. Often for my course I have to read a novel plus every week but when I read for fun, I read much faster and there is far more enjoyment. For example, at the beginning of my second semester I had to quarantine for two weeks, one of these I did alone before my flatmates arrived. I had initially thought I might find it boring, but no, I devoured 5 novels before my flatmates even arrived (this was my idea of total bliss)! I would never have been able to justify spending a week straight inside reading if it wasn’t for corona, so it was a pleasant side effect. As for travel and good food, corona has been a bit of a thorn in everyone’s life this year. Despite this I have been able to travel a little! My favourite city I’ve visited by far is Siena, the food is incredible, the Duomo is breath taking and the people are incomparably kind and welcoming.


Olivia Fothergill was a recipient of the RED scholarship and was selected for the VIU Internship Program. She received an Erasmus+ grant to support her studies at VIU. 

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