University of Adger
Department of Sociology and Social Research
Bachelor's Degree, Summer Semester 2022
I decided to go from Trento to Norway by train for my Erasmus semester. I did it for three reasons. First, it was cheaper. With the green travel bonus, the overall price of the train tickets was far less than the airplane, especially when you take into account the price of checked luggage (which you definitely need for a semester abroad). Second, I was able to carry everything with me to Norway. Included my guitar. Third, it's an adventure. It took me 2 days instead of 2 hours. I took 7 trains and a ferry. I saw Hamburg at night on the outward journey. I saw it at dawn on the way back. Just before arriving, I saw the Norwegian coast emerging through the mist from the ferry, lighthouses, islands and little red houses. And I said to myself, 'finally'. It felt good.
Booking a train trip through Europe takes time. Buying a plane ticket is much easier. I feel like giving two pieces of advice to those who want to take on the challenge. One, use trainline.com to check routes, connections, timetables. Because the websites of national companies often do not show all the trains in foreign countries. Once you have decided on your itinerary, you can use the different national sites to buy tickets and save some money. Two, before booking an Interrail pass, it's smart to check the prices of individual trains and see if they cost less than the price of the pass overall. If the trip only takes one or two days, it often pays off.
I would definitely do it again. Travelling by train allowed me to take 2 days on the outward journey to prepare for such an important semester. And 2 days on the way back to reflect on it, upload photos on the PC, and soothe the usual post-Erasmus depression. Moreover, I got the chance to meet many travellers. Among them, a Swiss guy I helped with transporting his bicycle from one train to another in a remote station in the Danish countryside. We sat in front of each other and discovered that we were both Erasmus students heading to the same university! Of course, he became one of my best friends during the semester in Norway.
University of Luxembourg
Faculty of Law
Sara Maria Barbaglia
Single Cycle Master's Degree
I traveled both by train and by bus, but in reality, most of the trip was by bus. I left my home, Rolo in the province of Reggio Emilia to get to Milan, where I took a night bus to Paris. There I changed buses for Luxembourg. There are also direct buses to Luxembourg, but I would have arrived at an inconvenient time to pick up the keys to the apartment. On the way back, I took another night bus from Luxembourg to Milan, then a high-speed train to Reggio Emilia.
One major advantage traveling like this is certainly the cost. In fact, I never spent more than 60 euros per leg of the trip both ways. Of course, the top-up of 50 euros for a green trip helps a lot too. To compare, a Bologna - Luxembourg flight would have cost me over 200 euros, plus the costs of fuel and/or trains and buses to get to the airport, so I really saved some money.
A second strong point is the convenience of night travel. Normal daytime travel by land (trains and buses) is much more confusing and uncomfortable. Traveling at night is quite comfortable because the seats in the buses recline and with a good playlist, an eye mask and a travel pillow you don’t really feel it at all. Clearly, it could prove to be a double-edged sword: noisy or frequently moving neighbors and light sleepers may not find it to be a pleasant experience. As far as train travel is concerned, you can book a bunk with a bed in a quiet room where you can rest at night, often including breakfast for the next day.
The last and third point concerns mobility in Luxembourg. It is a small nation, well organized and I would say very centralized for the transport system. Indeed, very often it is necessary to go to Luxembourg city to go to any other place in the state or to get out of it. But the great strength is the cost of the vehicles: 0 euros. All means of transportation (buses, trains and trams) within the Luxembourg borders are free for everyone. There is no need for a document, to be a student or over 60, you just have to get on the vehicle and get to your destination. This greatly facilitates travel and reduces the use of cars for daily and non-daily journeys. Every day I took the train from Niederkon (a really small village in the south of Luxembourg) to Esch-sur-Alzette, on the university campus for free and it was quite comfortable. There were trains to the university every 15 minutes and if I couldn't catch the train I took the bus and I was glad to see that many people also use them.
From these trips you can draw several conclusions, perhaps taken for granted but maybe not obvious to many:
- traveling by land is much less expensive - making the costs favorable (or even free) for the use of public transport means they are used by more people
- making public transport accessible to families and suitable for the disabled, men, women and children will also benefit families who use them (Italian and many foreign public means of transport are often totally different in terms of accessibility for families and disabled people)
- the widespread distribution of vehicles, even in the smallest villages, makes their use much simpler and more convenient
- to improve this experience (Erasmus green mobility) it is necessary to at least double the top-up (eg. the cost of the couchettes on the train is prohibitive for students).