Italian University inside – study process

There are two major things you need to accept as they are: study process and professors. Let’s see the first.

It is different. It’s a marks system scaled 30, CFU, absence of teaching seminars, timetable and tutors. The timetable is pretty easy for a foreigner: you get it inevitably in electronic form. It’s everything else you have to fight for.

CFU is a subject difficulty value, undermining hours of uninterrupted head wall beating  you are supposed to dedicate to it. Usually subjects have 6 or 12 CFU. You need to make 60 CFU / an academic year. The same subject on different faculties is obviously different. My “foreign language” subject for instance was zero CFU. “Physics 1” – 6, “Physics 2” – 12. So you might expect that Physics 2 is twice as difficult as Physics 1. The real difficulty is another: a professor of 12 CFU subject will only give you information worth 6, and will ask you approximately 24. A professor of  a 6 CFU subject will give 1 and may ask you 10. This is not just classic moaning of a student. After first exams you will see no connection between CFU and subject difficulty. It will drive you mad.

The 30-point evaluation scale has the same problem – it’s operated by people. Usually a “sufficient” is 18, it gives you the right to pass onto the next level, a subject conversation with your professor. Some professors accept you with 14-15 points. On this verbal part you can argue your previous mark and raise it up to 30 (Democracy!). Though… I’ve never met a student who would raise, normally they land back to zero and try next time. Simply speaking, you never get a 30. If you resolve and describe perfectly all the tasks, you start with 18. A missing comma brings you down to 17, some other error means good bye. Sad but true, in some way it only makes good for engineers. In fact, Italians are usually very good in theoretical stuff and research, but they lack practice.

Seminars: don’t exist. Instead, professor will announce a couple of hours a week for your stupid questions in his office. You will have a hard time searching for it. Then for him, when the office is found.

So, you let go the idea of finding professor. Now you might hear rumors about tutors. Those are PhD students, authorized to teach and assigned by the professor. I tried their help with chemistry, after which I decided to leave the exam for better times. I’m not saying I’m very smart, but after 3 lessons with a tutor my minor chemistry problems turned into something uncontrolled. How about finding professor again?.. It is worth a separate post.

In general, this is all about one thing – it is going to be hard and lonely. I could have said this and be done with the message. But I know you won’t believe it. You still don’t:) It is your strong side, you will need it to overcome loneliness. I could have done many things so differently if somebody advised. Some other foreign guy.


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