In my last post, I discussed the differences between American and Italian schools. While I sit on a break in between classes in Temple Rome’s student lounge munching on my panino from a café three minutes from school (ordered in Italian, thank you very much), I would like to highlight variations between the student experience here with that at Temple’s main campus in Philadelphia.
Classes started at Temple Rome last Monday. Going back to school pulled me out of my vacation mentality and made the fact that I’m actually living in the Eternal City more palpable. It felt good to meet my professors, get acquainted with a new school and new classmates, and buy my textbooks. As with most every aspect of being in Italy, there are some unexpected differences between being back to school here with being back to school in the United States.
One of the biggest differences between Temple’s Rome campus and Temple’s main campus is that class sizes here are much smaller. Of the five classes I’m taking, three of them have less than ten students in them. Originally, I wondered if small class sizes were an Italian custom that Temple adopted to more fully integrate its students to the Italian lifestyle. Touring La Sapienza last week refuted that theory. Class sizes here are small because there are only about one hundred thirty students studying at Temple Rome this semester compared to the approximately thirty thousand students at the main campus. I haven’t been in such a small class since I graduated high school and it’s going to take some getting used to.
Schedules are set up differently at Temple Rome than at students’ home institutions. No classes are scheduled on Fridays. Every weekend is a three day weekend which makes it more convenient for students to travel independently and for classes to have weekend excursions. My International Business class is going to London, my Business in the European Union class is going to Brussels, and my History of Art in Rome class is going to Tivoli! I can’t believe I used to consider science museums awesome field trips…
Because we don’t go to class on Fridays at Temple Rome, many classes typically meet for an hour and a half twice a week. There are exceptions. For example, my Italian class meets for an hour everyday Monday through Thursday. Can I just take this opportunity to say how awesome it is taking Italian in Italy? I literally take what I learn outside the building and start practicing. I’ve been in class for a week and a half and already feel comfortable holding a basic conversation (“What’s your name?”…”I’m from Philadelphia”…”Where do you live?”) in Italian.
Another cool aspect of many of the classes at Temple Rome is that they meet for weekly site visits. Many Art History classes meet on site (museums, churches, etc.) in three hour blocks of time once a week for lecture. My History of Art in Rome class met at the Colosseum last Tuesday where the professor taught us all about the Roman Forum while we stood where it once stood! The syllabus lists a different meeting place every Tuesday morning and then there’s a traditional class in a classroom on Tuesday nights to more formally discuss the development of Roman art and architecture. Even though I’m a business major, I have a feeling this art class is going to be one of the most interesting classes I’ve ever taken.
Being back to school has never felt so good.