I knew taking classes in another country that speaks a different language would take some adjusting. Other than my Italian professor, who is from Pitt, all of my teachers were born and raised in Italy, so naturally Italian is their first language. While they all speak very good English, sometimes it can be challenging to understand exactly what they are saying. I definitely have to pay more attention here because it can be easy to miss something they say. One nice thing is that I am surrounded by all American students, which has made the adjustment much easier.
There are a lot of differences in classes in Italy versus classes at Pitt. First off, classes here are way easier and require a lot less effort. While I still have to do homework and study for exams, overall, my classes here demand far less time and the work is less challenging. I am extremely thankful for this, due to the fact I’m traveling every single weekend and don’t have a vast amount of time outside of school to devote to my classes. Classes here, other than my Italian that meets for one hour three times a week, are once a week for three hours. Luckily, most professors give you a break to go grab coffee and a snack about half way through. Most days’ classes end before the three-hour mark as well. There are no classes on Friday, which allows for more travel time.
One thing here that differs from Pitt is how important attendance is. Roll is taken in every single one of my classes. We are allowed to miss one of each class, but after that each absence results in our grade dropping three percentage points. So I’m definitely not ditching classes just because I just don’t feel like going!
I really enjoy my classes here! My Exploring and Analyzing Florence class is literally learning all about the incredible city that I’m living in. During class, we go on walks around Florence and explore different neighborhoods! One day our class consisted of a one hour walk and ended with our professor buying us all gelato. My Museology class is super cool because I get to go into famous museums for free, like the Uffizi Gallery and Pitti Palace! Seeing the works of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo during class is a surreal experience – something I won’t get back in the States. International Marketing has really put a global perspective on all that I’ve learned about marketing. Lastly, I think my Italian language class has been the most beneficial. Although I am 100% not fluent at all, I can pick up on words and phrases much better than when I first arrived here.
Tips for students studying abroad in Florence:
- Bring a 5 subject notebook and a folder from home. This is all I really needed.
- Don’t miss class! Classes are actually super cool here plus your grade will reflect your absences.
- Take classes that sound fun and exciting! This is your time to take classes that really interest you.