Joanie Vasiliadis – 1. University in ItalyRome Internships, Spring 2012
To begin our studies on the Italian school system, we took time to discuss higher education. Being that we are a group of American college students, we began with a reflection on higher education in America, and listened to presentations from our peers about their respective universities at home. Generally, those who shared their stories with the class had chosen their colleges for location, size, campus life, and the “love at first sight” feeling that they had experienced during their search. Unlike in America, students in Italy don’t have too much variety when it comes to picking a school. The largest university in Rome is La Sapienza, with over 100,000 students enrolled. To gain a better understanding of the Italian university system, we had the privilege of speaking with Valeria, a math undergraduate at La Sapienza. After three years at an Italian university, one receives a “Laurea.” After an additional two years, one receives a “Laurea Magistrale.” In order to complete a course, students must pass oral and written exams for which they prepare all semester. Valeria described how common it is to fail an exam due to the nature of the courses. In many cases, professors simply instruct their students on which books to read and the students spend the semester self-studying and preparing for the exams. The papers, projects, and class exercise that we experience in the United States are nowhere to be found at La Sapienza, or any other Italian university for that matter. Another noteworthy difference between Italian and American university is the price. While my tuition costs around $40,000 per year because I’m an out-of-state student, La Sapienza costs around $1,500! As a result of the low costs, Valeria described how students take their time at the university, for the most part taking longer than five years to complete their degree. Unfortunately, campus life is relatively non-existent in Italy, with no sports teams, clubs, or other extracurricular activities. Personally, I can’t imagine college without campus life. At the same time, I wouldn’t mind such a low tuition! Clearly, there are pros and cons to both systems of higher education.
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