The studying part of Studying Abroad
Studying in another country is really different than studying in the United States. I was very comfortable studying at New Paltz and I have a work a little harder to succeed in my classes abroad.
One difference I noticed immediately is the attendance policy that is put in place. Similarly to New Paltz there is a certain number of unexcused absences before it starts to effect you grade. Expect for at the University in Italy if you miss a certain number you automatically fail the class. If you have a valid reason for missing class its required you have documentation stating your reasoning, it is not up to the professors discretion like it is at New Paltz. I have not missed many classes at all and its not an issue but it is just different from the States. Took a little while to get used to rather than just speaking to the professors about whatever issues you were facing that hindered you from attending classes.
Something else that is super confusing to be still is the grading system. Every country has a completely different grading system from each other and Italy’s is very strange. The Italian grading is out of 30 points but not out of a 100. At the moment I am not sure how my grades will transfer over at all. I know I am doing very well on the Italian scale but I couldn’t tell you what letter grade that transfers over too.
Italians have a very strong separation of work life and home life. I have not seen a single nurse in scrubs on the subway, or a store clerk in uniform after their shift. This holds true for professors as well, they are very willings to help but it is not uncommon to wait days and days before getting an email reply. Very different from New Paltz, I am used to getting responses back within an hour no matter what time of day it is. In the past I took that for granted. I would like to think I have a good relationship with my professors but only because I have tried to have a good relationship. I participate in class and greet them before and after class which I’d consider a good relationship in Italy. It is not like in New Paltz where I ask my professors how their kids are and what they did over the weekend. Nonetheless, all of my professors know my name and are passionate about the subject they teach. I do not feel like I am just a number in there grade book, which I was concerned about because this school is a lot larger than New Paltz.
Workload and exams are completely different as well and I am not really a fan of the Italian system. In the states I feel like there are a lot of assignments, projects, homework, quizzes and at least 3 exams. In Italy each class has a midterm, a final and one project. So yes, I do enjoy not having to hand in an assignment everyday however with more assignments it is easier to do well.
Something I did not thing that I needed to adjust when I was here is the way students from other countries are used to going to school. In the states school is a lot more formal that It is in countries where school is not prioritized. I have never been in a class where young adults where speaking directly over the professor, or a class were students leave the class four or five times every class until this semester. At the same time students here dress a lot more formally when attending class, which is extremely different than New Paltz. I’m used to my fun colored sweatpants and black tank top with a huge jacket, scarf, hat and fuzzy socks with my crocs. In Italy, a majority of the girls where a blazer, heels and a full face of makeup everyday even when just attending class. After being here for sometime I realized that I do actually enjoy get dressed nicely everyday for class. I think the saying “dress to empress” does prove to be true.
One thing I really take for granted at New Paltz is the amount of study spaces that are available on campus. I love studying at studying in Science building by the windows where its not to busy to focus but you are still about to see the street and watch the cars go by. I never thought I would say this but I miss the New Paltz campus library. The comfort of knowing there was always someone where to sit and someone to help with whatever random question I have about campus or just live in general. At my university in Milan there are very little places to study on campus. I think it is solely due to the fact that I go to a computer school and that students do not live on campus. I tend to do a large amount of studying in my room which is hard to focus.
I do enjoy all of my classes but my favorite class is Italian cultural and traditions through food. The class is considered a lab. The class meets twice a week once where the professor teaches about typical Italian dishes and one where we cook with a chef. My chef’s name is Chef Tito who does not speak any English and has lived in Italy all of his life. We have a TA for the class who acts as the translator which is very helpful, although I do feel my knowledge of the Italian language is growing. Tito has taught us how to make his favorite Italian dishes which is really cool because I can make all of these dishes for my friends and family when I get back to New York. So far my favorite dish that chef Tito has taught us how to make was Risotto alla Milanese.
I will add some pictures from my cooking and culture class.