Study Abroad: The Studying Part
When you tell people you have signed up for a year abroad, most people say ‘so it’s basically a year off, right?’. In some ways, they aren’t wrong. My year abroad, like most, does not count to my final grade. This gives the majority of people the notion that I’m just living in a nice flat, eating nice food and going on exciting trips. Although I do spend a lot of time doing those things, I can’t forget that I do have to at least pass the year here (which is 60% compared to Warwick’s 40%), and that requires going to lectures, studying and revising.
There are a lot of differences between study in England and study in Italy. At Warwick, most of the focus feels like it’s on essays, which I don’t have to do here in Rome. It seems like there is a lot less weight placed on your personal opinions and arguments in Italy, and a lot more focus on facts. For this reason, instead of writing essays you’re expected to read. A lot. For example, one of my modules requires me to read a 500 page book on Greek art history (in Italian), as well as several supplementary books, articles and papers, which is both exhausting and time consuming.
There are also more contact hours here in Rome. I have almost double the amount that I would have at Warwick, and they are divided into two hour lectures that don’t include breaks. Although this is great in terms of absorbing the language, it can be very draining! After the lectures, I naturally have a lot of consolidation to do. I usually spend a few hours researching what I didn’t quite catch and re-writing my notes to make them more cohesive (and less dotted with question marks!). Then, at regular intervals, I’m trying to compile these notes with information from the set books. For this reason, the work I do to consolidate my lectures here more than makes up for the hours I would be spending on essays!
The final difference between Warwick and Rome is the way the exams work. There are two exam seasons here, one in January/February and one in the summer. You take the exams for your term 1 modules in January and if you fail you have the chance to retake alongside your term 2 modules in the summer. This all seems relatively standard, however the catch is this: the exams are spoken. The beauty of a written exam is that it gives you time to think before you give an answer, whereas a spoken exam requires a much faster response. Not only that, but this fast response needs to be in Italian, so my brain will have to work about four times as hard as normal!
Studying abroad really is what it says: you do have to study! It’s not easy to get used to a new style of learning, especially since it’s in another language. However, it is important to remember that it’s not completely wrong to treat it as a year off. Travelling, socialising and becoming more cultured are all part of the package too! Living abroad is an opportunity that not many people get- you have to experience every aspect of it, including (but not limited to) the study!