After taking part in the pre-semester German course as well as the classes chosen for this first semester, I decided to point out some differences I noticed between the German and Italian university systems.
–Different didactic approaches: while in Italy students generally take part in frontal classes, here it is more common to work in groups or to be in classes in which an active participation is required. During the German course, for example, I could improve my listening and speaking skills. Although I’m very satisfied with the team of German teachers in my university, staying here I had more chances of interaction with native speakers. This is obviously due to the different context in which I find myself, though. What really helped and motivated me was the chance of having more language classes and I hope that in Italy there’ll be soon more space for classes with native speakers as teachers (though this depends on ministerial rules).
–Choice of classes: while in Italy, after filling in the study plan, you can start classes (most of them being compulsory), here there is a wider offer. However, you need to apply on a platform, where there could be not enough spots. It is therefore necessary to speak with teachers who can decide whether or not to accept students. It’s honestly a bit stressful, but with a little patience I accepted this system and I managed to organize my class schedule. It’s important to respect some deadlines and to find suitable classes as soon as you can, so for those who are interested in the same experience in this university, I suggest choosing before the deadline. However, I must say that in most cases teachers are available and give you the opportunity to join a class.
–Different organization of the semester: in Italy, classes generally finish in December and immediately following there is an exam session lasting two to two and a half months. Here there are not so many classes per week (for example, a literature class is only two hours per week, versus the six hours in Italy). However, as a consequence our semester lasts longer- that is, until the end of January- and you are supposed to work more at home. For instance, for the week following the two hours of class, there is an essay to be read, so as to have some ideas and identify possible issues you can point out in the following class. If classes last until January, the exam session is shorter: there are pro and cons, though I think there are no problems, provided you organize your work correctly. Anyway, I’ll let you know in the coming months.
–Different evaluation methods: while in the past I was more accustomed to oral exams, here written exams are more common, especially for 6 credits. For Erasmus students there is more often the option to write some essays, which will be used by teachers during the evaluation phase. Depending on the credits number, it could be necessary to add some extra work. Obviously, for language exams, it’s often required in addition to pass an oral exam, which is fair in my opinion, in order to have a complete evaluation. This latter is expressed with grades going from 1 (the best) to 4 (the minimum to pass). Decimals are also used, in order to express some subtle differences.
–More work opportunities: there are more students working and studying, rather than those who are full-time students. What I noticed is that in university, there is often the possibility to get a part-time job or an internship. Lots of students have part-time jobs outside uni, so one has to study and, at the same time, can earn some money.