(End of major blog dry-spell. I have unintentionally been ignoring this blog for too long now…here are the updates)

As of last week, much as it pains me to say it….my ‘official’ year abroad is over. Finished. Finito. Nada más, Apart from the elation of finishing (and actually passing) my exams here in Italy, I’m not sure I have 100% got my head around the fact that this year is coming to an end..


I’ve already expressed my surprise at the organisation (or lack of) within the Italian university system, but sitting the exams was something else. I didn’t have too high expectations as I have heard many stories about exams here, one being a friend of mine turning up to her 11am exam, waiting in the line for four hours, and then being sent home and asked to come back the next day as they’d run out of time. Hardly ideal.

The majority of exams taken in Italy are oral which terrified me. Rather than sitting a paper you turn up and your teacher will interrogate you on the topic for any time between 10-45 minutes! You can also choose when you do your exams. Unlike in the UK where you’re given a set time, date and seat number, and you turn up at least 15 minutes before, come rain or shine, in Italy you are given a list of potential times and dates and you pick whichever one takes your fancy; May? July? Shall we wait until September? For my first exam, a friend of mine and I turned up to the professor’s office where the exam was going to take place – strange, I know – and had to wait outside for a while whilst she chatted on the phone, went for a coffee, fed the cat..etc etc. Once she emerged she asked us if we’d mind doing it in the corridor as her colleague was on the phone in the office. So my friend went first, with me round the corner, listening to every single word – she even asked me a question in my friend’s exam, “What;s it like in the UK, Harriet?” – and then vice versa; we swapped chairs and she listened to my entire exam too. Weirdest exam I’ve ever sat.

Equally weird for other reasons, This one was Spanish language so mainly written with an oral part afterwards. We all went in at 10am, and started on the written part which was fine, All finished at 12 and handed in our papers – perfectly normal. But then, being third years, we had to wait IN THE EXAM HALL whilst the tutors at the front marked all the papers – all the first years, all the second years and then all of ours (not the entire class of third years; this exam was the big one at the end for those who hadn’t sat the three little ones throughout the year, i.e. me as I wasn’t there in October for the first one). After a while our papers were given back to us with our marks on, no discrepancy regarding whether people wanted their marks shared with others or not – thankfully we all did well but it was strange for me as I am used to results being emailed to us, or only being able to be collected by said student.

By this time it was probably about 1:30pm, bearing in mind we’d been there since 10am, and we still the oral part to go. Before it got to us, they had to get through all the first and second years, argue with one student who argued his mark and refused to leave – very dramatic and sufficiently awkward for the Brit in the corner. Who argues their exam mark in front of a hall full of people?!!! After he’d finally left and got through the rest of the student it came to us and we all took it in turns to go up and have a little chat about the book we’d read in preparation – or in my case, my year in Italy! Having prepared points to make about the book they didn’t even ask me about it!! We all did very well though and it turned into one big conversation between us all once the marks had been allocated. So we left the exam hall four and half hours after arriving! Another very foreign exam experience.

Soooooooo, university finito. I can’t believe it, I still feel like I’ve only just got here. But the fun is not over yet, I have a couple of weeks to enjoy Ferrara (struck gold discovering the open air pool!!) before heading off to Milan for two weeks to volunteer at the EU Pavilion at the Expo – watch this space!


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