Doing school in another country is such an interesting experience. Back home in California I became used to selecting my coursework for the upcoming school year at least two quarters in advance. I knew how many credits I had to take and what courses to choose since I had made an academic plan with my academic advisor. This straightforward task became a Rubix cube here in Bologna. The whole system of my selection of coursework had to be modified in order to fit the semester system, take into account credit conversion rates, and find classes that satisfied minor and major requirements.
Luckily for me, an orientation day made this daunting task a little less intimidating. The hardest part of it all was finding a class that didn’t have such a heavy workload but offered the necessary amount of units. The thing is no matter how many units a class offered it would transfer back to my home university as 6 units even if the class was 10 units; I was playing it smart.
It’s now been a few weeks that I’ve been attending my courses and surprisingly they’re practically about over which if I were in the U.S. would have me freaking out because it would mean exams were soon. However, I’m in Italy and exams work differently here. In Italian universities, students select when they’d like to take their exam from a set of dates the professor offers. Often these dates are after the course is over during the following few months. Another difference is that exams are generally oral, so it’s more of a conversation you have with the professor. Lastly, they don’t assign homework here besides readings that is. It sounds very nice and all but all this freedom and flexibility means that it’s really up to you how well you do in the class and you only have one chance sometimes even two; you’re allowed to reject a grade a professor has given you if you disagree with it but you do have to retake the exam, which makes it’s a bit of a gamble.
I think the Italian university system somewhat resembles the country’s culture. Things here seem more laid back and gradual. There’s time to breathe and enjoy the moment. In the U.S. I often feel we’re all rushing most of the time. Here I’ve been able to find a balance between my academic and social life which in the U.S. has proven to be a struggle at times. I think this might be because productivity is viewed differently here. It’s not about doing the most in the least amount of time but doing the best you can with the time you have. This has taught me not only how to be better at managing my time but also how to be grounded and present in whatever activity is in front of me.