So I noticed it has been a while since my last post, so I thought I would take this opportunity to say a little bit about my experiences so far, in terms of University life in Rome.
One of the main things you notice, very quickly, is that university classes in Italy are very different to home. For example, the week before classes started I still had no idea when most of my classes would be held. After a slight panic, I was told that in order to find out this information I should email each professor for the information required.
That’s right, you are not given a class time-table. Although some classes had their information hidden somewhere online, there were others that require each student to email the professor. Think of all the added bother that would create for them!
Upon sending these emails, many more interesting facts emerged…
The first email response I received clearly emphasised the relaxed nature of Italy in general. Relating to a subject I previously believed to be ‘compulsory’, this email informed me that the class in question was in fact not running this semester. Well then, at least that leaves more free time for me! Or so I thought.
A later response meant I was confronted with the alternate situation. Here, I was kindly told that, due to my lack of knowledge of the European Union and how it works, if I wanted to take any law subjects I would also have to take an additional seminar in order to acquire the appropriate background knowledge. Considering I am not going to get credit for this course at home, that news was not so welcome.
From all of my inquires regarding classes, a very complex class schedule was create…
I was not thrilled to discover that the class on European law that I have to take runs at the same time as the law class I need to take for course credit. How I would have passed the difficult class without an understanding of the European legal system I do not know, but how I will pass it after missing 4 hours of class for 4 weeks is still not clear either.
I also find it interesting that one of the classes I am taking this semester consists of 2 students and is held within the professors office.
Another class only requires me to attend 3 days per week over 3 weeks in December. Unfortunately, this class is on at exactly the same time as another class… I attended that class in week 1 only to be told that the first section of the course will be on the English language. I don’t have to attend lessons again until some time in November. Although I still have to do the English language exam, worth 50% of my overall grade. Even with the terrible clashes, if I don’t pass this subject it would be embarrassing!
In the end, my class schedule is not really a schedule at all, with different classes starting and finishing most weeks.
I will have to see how this goes throughout the semester, but hopefully the short time I am required to stay focused on most subjects will allow me to actually stay motivated. I also hope this gives me free time to sight-see (and doesn’t see me turning up at the wrong class on the wrong day or the wrong week).
Overall, although a very chaotic ‘structure’ this process seems to work. It requires a lot of self-initiative and good organisation, which are important life skills. My university in Australia does things like provide a comprehensive course outline detailing assessment, readings, topics to be covered and other infomation. We are given powerpoint presentations ever week and have a week-by-week timetable available online. Here, you need to make an effort to find out this information if you want it. You need to be patient because everything is not arranged ahead of time, and you need to be able to deal with the situation as it changes.
As difficult as this may be, it has so far made me realise how much I take for granted the administrative process at home, how much of a virtue patience really is, and how useful an open-minded approach to life is when you are exploring what the rest of the world has to offer.
I really do love this place, quirks and all.