Here are my impressions about my studies in Rome.
My university is called La Sapienza – Università di Roma (Wisdom in translation). They say it’s the biggest university in Europe – it was found in 1303 and has campuses all over the city and around 150 000 students. Huge !
Coming here and getting used to the how things work (almost nohow) was hard in the beginning. My Master program in English was the first experience ever for them, so, I was aware it won’t work perfectly. But it would be really nice if they would at least know themselves this program exists… So, let’s start from
- The only support provided is Segreteria stranieri (International office) told us not to worry and enjoy the sun when we asked for our schedule – totally Italian style! 🙂 Of course we were worried, because we could see that the 1st semester has already began and everybody is studying. When trying to find it in the faculty, nobody could help us because they’ve never heard about Master in English. My friends from Engineering faculty missed the first week because they simply did not know it has started.
- When enrolling to the system, they said not to give them our foreign diplomas, so we did not. At the end of the first semester it appeared that we still are not enrolled in the university system (called INFOSTUD) because they DID need our diplomas as we didn’t provide it to them!!! After all the efforts and mess we were finally registered, but it was already too late. Too late because we needed to register in the system in order to attend our examinations, and we never had access to this system before.
- The system itself was quite confusing to use because it is completely in Italian and crashes all the time. We were given a training of how to use it AFTER the exam session. We figured it out ourselves, what could we do! 🙂
I think such situations are not exceptions,unfortunately they’re more like rules. My friend, studying in University of Bologna (the oldest one and ranked # 1 in Italy), cannot graduate already for half a year, and it seems like it will take more time for him because of some “mistake in the University system”, to which they say “we are afraid we do not have enough information to figure out what the problem is”.
- The professors also surprised me much in the beginning – most of them don’t speak good English and if they do they do it with a horrible accent. My English was never perfect, but it definitely got worse here… They are surely good and qualified professors, but in Italian, not in English. Although, there are always some exceptions.
- The lectures are very similar to Russian ones – theory is explained by a professor using slides or marker and a desk. To be honest, I was expecting European education to be more practical. The lecture is 2 hours, but usually the lecturer is 15 min. late, it is like an unwritten rule.
So, I can see that La Sapienza is very interested to attract students from all over the world, but first they have to adapt all their facilities for the comfortable use of a foreign student. There should be some orientation before the beginning of semester; staff should speak English, at least in libraries, enrollment services and so on. There are lots of Erasmus student, but they are mostly Spanish, so it is very easy for them to understand Italian, and they don’t have to register in Infostud, be enrolled and other stuff. On some point it is good for me, because I was practicing my Italian, but I am sure most of fresh comers would be stressed to do that.
Even though the organizational aspect is pretty weak, there are a lot of benefits you can enjoy by being a student in my uni, but they are more about activities, not studies.
- Well, it is very well-known university, at least in Italy, so I won’t have to explain what that is on my job interview.
- Very rich student life. If you want to participate, you have a choice of endless amount of student organizations with different aims. I found one for myself, – I highly recommend it if you study in Europe and in Technical university. It is called BEST (Board of European Student of Technology). They have local groups in 90 cities in 32 countries. BEST organizes fun international courses in different European cities, with the help of which I traveled to 5 countries almost for free. And friends met in those trips are priceless!:) Except BEST, there are also ESN, AIESEC, AEGEE etc…
- Very cheap canteen – for 2,1€ you can eat primo, secondo, contorno and a dessert. Primo – pizza or pasta (of course 😉 ), secondo – meat or fish, contorno – salad or smg like that. So you can imagine how much we like our canteen, it’s quite good, and it’s cheaper to go there then to cook!
- My group is so international, I still can’t remember where everybody is from. We have just 3 Italians (yep, as I said they don’t like to learn languages), the rest are from different parts of Africa, Russia and Serbia. Very different people with different mentalities, which makes them very interesting!
- Openness of the university – I can attend ANY course I consider interesting (if I find time after my complimentary subjects). I went to Spanish lessons, but it could have been Japaneese or medicine, as I want. Everything is open for students, it’s a rule.
- All types of sport activities – for instance the membership which includes football, dances, judo, yoga or rugby would cost you just 90€ per year. It might be that it’s not comfortable to reach sometimes, the swimming pools are almost outside the city, but mostly the facilities are near the main campus.
- I believe that the tuition fee is affordable. It will be calculated according to your family wealth, I’d say it’s around 500 to 1000€ per year. But it is always a possibility to receive a “Borsa di studio” (Scholarship) and study for free, just to pay some taxes around 50 € per year, if I am not mistaken.
So, because it is big it is a snail-paced bureaucratic machine, it is really hard to change the system if you need it. But, in the same time, it’s fun, it has lots of services provided to students, which you would receive in other universities for big money only.
Except studying, I am, of course, discovering the eternal city everyday. It is truly fascinating how much fun and interesting stuff you can do in Rome. I even wrote 2 blogposts about it, you can read them here and here!
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