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College vs. Università: Bringing Perugia Into The Classroom

Have you ever wondered how the Italian education system works? If you had been in Professor Valentina Marasca’s Italian class today, your knowledge on the subject would have increased tenfold. Italian students studying at the Umbra Institute through the Institute’s accord with the Università di Perugia (click here for more info) paid a visit to Professor Marasco’s class for a cultural exchange focusing on the differences between our two academic systems.


The discussion, in Italian, started with the differences at the high school level. In the Italian system one can choose between a number of possible specialized high schools: ones with a linguistic focus, a scientific bent, or even one where you learn Greek and Latin. At the university level the systems diverge radically, as the Umbra students learned. For example, in Italy universities are only urban; there are no liberal arts schools on hills in little towns, with libraries in Victorian buildings and paths paved with gravel. The Americans were also surprised to hear that there is very little homework, though for Italians, the tradeoff is a onetime, go-for-broke oral exam at the end of each semester.


One of the Italian students, Rossella Carpino, showed pictures from her graduation. In Italy the celebration doesn’t involve five hundred other students, but opening a bottle of champagne with family and friends out in front of the main university building. And don’t forget the laurel wreath on your head! Can you imagine if that were the end of Umbra’s semester?


University of Perugia graduate (and past Umbra exchange student) Rossella Carpino with her thesis and laurel crown, in front of Perugia’s main fountain.


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