An International University In My Backyard
Can you imagine getting the opportunity to attend a foreign university without even leaving your home country? Imagine getting a “study abroad” student experience 30 minutes from your home. Sounds pretty impossible, right? I thought so too, until I discovered the concept of an American university in Rome. During my last semester of high school, I began looking outside of the traditional Italian institutions. I wanted to know what my options were, especially since I was hoping to pursue a degree in English literature. I’m so grateful I took the time to research, because it led me to John Cabot University.
Attending JCU has been challenging, yet rewarding. It has opened up my world to so many different cultures and traditions – not just from the United States, but from all over the world – and my classes have been engaging and stimulating in so many ways. I will admit that getting used to the American educational system has definitely been an adjustment period for me. It takes seome time to get used to, but I have truly enjoyed every moment of it.
The difference between US and Italian University Systems
My time at John Cabot has far exceeded my expectations! But, for any other Italians out there, it might be useful to note the many differences between the Italian and the American university systems. Here are a few things I have noticed:
The Grading System
Grades in Italian universities range from 0 to 30 cum laude. An 18 represents a passing grade, and a 30 cum laude is the highest grade a student can get. At JCU (and any other American university), however, the grades are given in letter form. Grades range from A to F, A being the highest, and F representing a “Fail”–or the lowest grade. Then these grades are converted into numbers ranging from 0 to 4 in order to calculate the GPA (Grade Point Average).
In Italian universities, students spend their semesters taking classes and then have a two- or three-month exam period. During that period all lessons are suspended, and students only focus on studying and taking exams. They are often able to take exams multiple times if they don’t pass or would like to aim for a better grade. In the American system, however, final exams are only worth a percentage of a student’s overall semester grade. Professors determine the total by assessing various assignments and/or presentations, midterms, quizzes, and attendance along with their final exam. While the Italian system is convenient in the fact that exams are spread out over a longer period of time, I have found JCU’s system much less stressful since final exams are not worth 100% of my grade.
Italian universities calculate their tuition fees according to the country’s ISEE (Indicator of Economic Situation). Usually this means that the maximum amount a student will pay for a university education in Italy is around 3000 euros. A private American liberal arts university, on the other hand, can cost much more. Luckily, JCU is committed to making their degree programs as affordable as possible, so they offer a wide range of scholarships and financial aid.
Students graduating from a traditional Italian university will not attend a commencement ceremony. Instead, they will officially graduate on the day they submit their final thesis, presenting it in front of professors, family, and friends. On that day, instead of wearing a cap and gown, the student is given a laurel crown to wear after their official presentation. I love seeing Italian graduates of JCU carry on this tradition as they wear their crowns and celebrate in the streets of Trastevere and around the city. However, I also look forward to celebrating my graduation in Spring 2019, in an American-style commencement ceremony, while wearing the iconic cap and gown.
There are also many subtle day-to-day differences between a traditional Italian university and John Cabot University. For me, this is what makes JCU so unique. I love the fact that I am surrounded by a completely different environment than the one I grew up in–an international environment of global citizens–yet I didn’t have to move away from my home country. By attending John Cabot University I have been so lucky to gain an entirely new educational experience. In the same way, I feel as though I have studied abroad, traveled the world, and made lifelong friendships – without even leaving Italy.
Class of 2019
English Literature Major
Hometown: Giano Dell’Umbria, Italy