Attracting foreign students into their countries is a key objective for many governments in the West. Countries hope to attract the best and brightest from around the world to further research in university institutions and bring their skills to bear in the wider economy.
Foreign students also pay fees to attend the universities, in many cases at higher rates than local students; which has led many institutions to advertise overseas to attract new students from around the world.
Foreign students are also great news for the local economy and businesses around the universities. Students often eat out, enjoy a drink in the evenings and spend a lot on fashion and entertainment! This helps to grow the local economy and provides jobs for many locals in university towns and cities.
Those who are already in Italy and are considering whether to attend school in Italy should also think about the following before plunging ahead.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Studying In Italy?
Although Italy is one of the world’s top destinations for tourists and Expats it’s not such a hot choice for students looking to study overseas. Italian universities do not have a great reputation in America and other parts of Europe; and unlike institutions such as Harvard and Stanford they often struggle to attract the type of international talent that they want.
The Language Barrier.
One of the most significant problems that foreign students cannot avoid in Italy is the language barrier and with many Italians speaking no English at all if you’re not bilingual it will be a real uphill struggle.
To make matters worse, Italian universities rarely teach in English although you can still find courses that are designed for foreign students and are taught in English. For example, the University of Rome Tor Vergata does offer international degree courses which are taught in English but competition to gain a place on the courses can be quite steep. Across Italy, there are around 500 courses which are taught in English and as demand increases this number is rising.
Even if you do find an English taught course you should still consider learning Italian so you can take more of an active role in the life of your community.
Classes Frequently Get Cancelled.
A frustrating aspect of studying in Italy is that the classes are regularly cancelled and the schedules are constantly changing. This can make life very confusing for the students and teaching staff alike! Another problem with the constantly changing schedules is that it makes it much harder to plan other commitments outside of the university hours. For example, many students work on a part time basis to help pay for their fees and living costs but with schedules in perpetual flux it can be a real headache to maintain all your different responsibilities at once.
The Students Are Comparatively Young.
It’s unusual for people in Italy to return to university later in life and so the majority of students are very young. This means that if you’re wanting to study as a mature student you will probably find yourself being the oldest person in your classes, which can be somewhat alienating and make it harder to make friends. In the United States, and other Western countries, the mix of age groups at university is far more balanced than in Italy. Many older students in the US also work on full or part time basis to in order to advance their career, something which is also less common in Italy.
Attendance Is Not Always Mandatory.
The rules in many Italian universities do not require you to even attend the classes! In many parts of the world attendance is mandatory and is used as part of the end of year assessments; however, in Italy, as long as you pass the exams your level of attendance is not considered to be important.
Poor Time Keeping And Regular Cancellations.
It’s not only your classes which are frequently cancelled and shuffled about on your schedule because even the public transport is not immune from this! Trains are regularly cancelled just minutes before they are set to depart and the bus timetables are constantly being changed as well!
This can lead to big problems if you have an important appointment and are relying on the public transport to get you there on time. You can overcome these types of challenges but slowing down the pace of your life and always aiming to get to places early so if there are delays on route you’ll have the flexibility to handle it.
Research Departments Are Not Always Well Funded.
Italian universities do not have such a focus on their research departments as other countries do which can limit the possibilities for students to progress in their studies. American universities have vast research funds available to their students and so if you were looking for a learning experience that incorporates cutting edge research then Italian universities might not be the right option for you.
You’ll Have To Watch Your Weight!
One of the double edged swords of living in Italy is the fantastic food which is absolutely irresistible but also contains masses of Carbs! Of course, we all know that pizza can really pile on the pounds but the same applies to spaghetti, penne, rigatoni, ciabatta and much more besides!
You’ll have to be disciplined if you’re studying abroad in Italy to ensure that you don’t end up putting on a lot of weight. You can find healthier food options though and in most restaurants there’s a good choice of salads and low Carb options on the menu.
Towns And Cities Get Swamped In The Tourist High Season.
Living in Italy during the quieter times of years is a real treat but during the summer months the country is transformed by the huge numbers of tourists that come from all over the world to see the magic for themselves.
According to the Italian tourist agencies, more than 90 million people visit Italy as tourists each year and if you’re living in a tourist hotspot it can really take away from the atmosphere. The restaurants are packed full to capacity and all of the major heritage sites are crowded with long lines to get in! This means that during the tourist season you’ll have to leave yourself plenty of time to get around and it might even be worth avoiding the main sites altogether until it quiets down again.
You May Not Want To Come Home Again!
If you’ve decided to study in Italy and have managed to accept and overcome the downsides of studying abroad you may end up finding out that you actually never want to leave! Saying ‘arrivederci’, or ‘goodbye until the next time we meet’, might be one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do!
Once you have settled into life in Italy and gotten used to the strange quirks of this unique society you’ll start to really feel at home. However, when it is time for you to go home you can be sure that your new Italian friends will always welcome you back!
Are There Any Advantages Of Studying Abroad In Italy?
There are many advantages of studying abroad which is why it’s such a popular option for ambitious young adults. It’s not only exciting to throw yourself into a new culture but it can also be a great learning experience.
Life is what you make of it and so instead of seeing the lack of English language classes and the fact that most signs, notices and documents are written in Italian as a problem, look on the bright side instead!
Why not embrace the language barrier and start learning the wonderful language for yourself. Of course, this will be quite hard work at first but once you start to get the basics under your belt you’ll be chatting away quite naturally to the locals in no time.
Immerse Yourself In A Foreign Culture.
Studying and living in Italy will give you a once in a lifetime opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the vibrant culture and heritage. There’s no better way to learn about what it is that makes Italian society tick than to live and study in the midst of it.
Develop Your Confidence And Experience Of Travel.
Taking the leap and studying overseas will be a valuable learning experience in your life that will grow your confidence! After you’ve settled into the patterns of your new life and you find your feet in Italy you’ll soon notice that you’re more confident and outgoing than you used to be!
The Downsides Of Studying In Italy.
While Italy is a wonderful country there are bound to be some downsides to studying there. However, these challenges can be overcome with a positive mental attitude and a get up and go approach to your new life as a student abroad.
There are problems with the Italian university system but if you have an ambition to live and study in Italy you can still find some great courses which teach in English; so don’t let the downsides put you off from following your dreams!