School: A Preview of What’s to Come
As I close off my second week abroad, I am also closing the first full week of attending school. The first week I only went to classes for 2 days and most of the class was about the syllabus, so I don’t really count it as a week. This time it is a bit clearer what it is I should be expecting the next few months. Unlike most international students at Bocconi, I must to take course taught in Italian. Therefore, I find myself being the only (or one of the few) foreign student in these courses. It was really surprising to know there were so many exchange students from all over the world, but only a few of us were taking courses actually taught in Italian. The number of exchange students didn’t matter at all once lectures started.
There really aren’t any huge differences in class structures between Italian and American schools. The professor usually has PowerPoint slides up on the projector, he stands the majority of the time and lectures on the days topic, and all the students have access to the slides and only really need to take notes on what he says. The problem for me stood in understanding what my professors are saying. Most of my Italian teachers in San Diego speak slower than they normally would to a native speaker; therefore, I am accustomed to a slower speaking pace. Unfortunately, since I am usually the only exchange student present, I have to adapt to the speed of the professor. Along with that, I must also be cautious where I decide to sit. As I discovered on the first day (when I sat a near the back of the room), it is difficult to hear the professor lecture.
Oral and Written Communication
As I said, school was not as easy as I thought it would be. Much of the struggle was due to my fear of speaking up. I am not necessarily afraid of public speaking, at least not in English. I have learned that no matter what I do in life, I will have to speak to, at, or with a large group. However, I am afraid of failure and of messing up. Due to that fear I feel this week I have not made an accomplishment. I was not able to speak up in class like I wanted to. The nerves of being judged by native speakers took over me, but I know it was just my own paranoia. As someone who speaks 2 languages fluently, 1 semi-fluently, and 1 as a beginner; I know that people appreciate when you make an effort to speak their language in their country. But I guess anxiety took over this week and I could not get past it.
This is not necessarily a defeat, just a set back, because my writing and reading skills have improved a lot in just 1 week. Along with that, my comprehension skills have also improved exponentially. Since these are all things one does on their own, it was not as difficult to work on them. I did focus on all the things that could go wrong if I said something incorrectly in class, but I didn’t stop to think about how there are hundreds of exchange students at Bocconi, and I was one of the few in an actual Italian course. I hope that by the end of the month I can report back my oral communications have improved. In the meantime I can take solace in knowing that my experience abroad is really helping me reinforce my written, reading, and comprehension skills in Italian. There is still work to be done, and I plan on ameliorating my weaknesses.