In this week's post, Connor compares his school life and classwork at CAPA Florence to that of his at University of Pittsburgh back home in the US.
Ciao! This past week was midterm week for me and my peers at CAPA, so it was a week full of studying and tests. There are a lot of pre-conceived notions about classes while studying abroad. In this blog I am going to discuss classes, teaching styles, assignments, and the tests a typical CAPA student might get while abroad.
A main difference about class structure I have had here compared to the University of Pittsburgh is the length and occurrence of my classes. At the University of Pittsburgh, and most universities in The States, classes meet 2-3 times a week for either 50 minutes a class or for 75 minutes a class. In Florence, my classes are once a week and they meet for 3 hours. There is usually a 15-minute coffee break in the middle of each class as well. This was certainly different than what I am used to back home. It can be difficult to stay focused class for 3 hours consecutively, but it is nice because each student generally only has one class a day. The rest of your day can be spent catching up on work or exploring the wonderful city of Florence.
Students going over material for the last time before the midterm.
My classes here are also significantly smaller in size compared to my classes at home. Now this obviously depends on how many people you have in your program and what classes you are taking, but for me I have an average of about 8 students per class in Florence. This is much different from the 75+ person lecture halls I am used to. It has forced me to stay engaged in class and also has given me the opportunity to get more personalized help from my professors.
My Italian class!
The teaching style is also slightly different in Florence, perhaps partly because of the small classes. My professors have made lectures more discussion oriented. Students are encouraged to participate frequently and professors may even randomly call on students as well.
As far as grades and assignments in my classes at CAPA, it is very similar to what I am used to. There is a midterm and finals week, small participation grades, and then one or two assignments to complete throughout the semester. The assignments depend on the class. I have a research paper for my “International Marketing” class, and for my “Analyzing the Global City” class I had to take pictures of different Piazza’s around Florence to describe how it represented the city.
Students studying in the CAPA lounge for midterms
It is easy to get caught up in being in a different country and forget about school work, but it is important to put time aside each day to finish all homework, work on projects, or study for tests. There is a stereotype that students do not have to do real work while they study abroad. While I do spend a lot of time exploring Florence or traveling around Europe, I do still have school work I need to complete. There are not as many weekly assignments here as I have at the University of Pittsburgh, but I do still have a lot of school work and I am certainly learning a lot from my classes.
It is important to make sure that you enjoy your time abroad, as it truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity. However, it is equally important you get the most out of your courses as well. Learning and studying in a city like Florence something students studying abroad should take advantage of.
Connor McGlone is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2018, sharing his story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Marketing and Supply Chain Management major at University of Pittsburgh, he is studying abroad in Florence this semester.
Connor's journey continues every Tuesday so stay tuned.