October 8, 2012, marked my first day of classes here in Bologna. Well, my first university class, that is. That morning I woke up at 7am, determined to get a couple things done before going off to class. The class I have chosen to take at the Università di Bologna this semester is called Storia Medievale (Medieval History). I arrived at the history departments building, which is roughly a 15-20 minute walk from my apartment, around 8:45-8:50am. Then, I sat outside watching students come and go.
When 8:58 rolled around, I decided to go inside. For the next 5 minutes, I sat there all alone. Then I started to have a minor panic attack. What if the class is cancelled? This is something that happens often in the Italian university system, or so I’m told. Professors are known to not show up to class and not even leave a note about class being cancelled. Thankfully, other students slowly trickled in. Finally, the professor appeared. At 9:25.
This is absolutely common in the system here. Professors, we have been told, are Gods. You don’t question or judge. You treat them like they are the ultimate being while in their classroom. I sat in the second row of a 40-person lecture at full attention. I didn’t want to miss a word of what he said. I had my notebook out, ready to take notes. Then he started talking. Well, more like mumbling.
Apparently my professor has a volume problem. Unless you sit in the seat and right in front of him, you aren’t going to hear a word. Evidently everyone in my class had the flu, because I couldn’t even catch a word over the coughing and sneezing. The lecture lasted until 11am, and then I was free. Next class I’m planning on getting the seat front and center and I’m bringing a recorder for the parts I don’t catch.
How the academics work here in Bologna:
Pre-Session Class: Lasts for roughly the first month you’re here. BCSP class that transfers back for 3 credits.
La Corsa di Lingua Avanzato: Advanced language course that is required unless waived by the BCSP. Also transfers back as 3 credits. Semester long class.
Choice of a BCSP course: This semester we have the option of choosing between Cinema Italiano (taught by Director Ricci himself) or a history course on Italy from 1848-1945. I have chosen to take the history course. This will transfer back as 3 credits.
For the remaining 6 credits of the semester you can do one of the following combinations (each transfer as two classes or six credits):
- A 10 or 12 credit UniBo class (Università di Bologna) – This is what I chose.
- A 6 credit UniBo and a BCSP course
- 2 different 6 credit UniBo classes
My work load for this Medieval History course isn’t really too bad. There is no homework in the Italian system. You are typically graded on one thing: your final oral exam. However, that means everything rests on your lecture attendance and keeping up with the reading. For this class I have on book and it’s an encyclopedia on the Medieval Ages. I only have to read the summary in the back that is about 30 pages.
I’ll be sure to check in with an update on my BCSP courses once they start next week! A la prossima volta!