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International Center

University of Missouri

Education in Italy

by Connor C.

After spending two and a half weeks abroad, I feel like I am getting a grasp on the culture here in Bergamo, Italy. We arrived in Milan on Sunday, May 15, and immediately traveled by bus to our hostel in Bergamo. We arrived, got set up and began to explore this new, amazing country.

My focus for this post will be heavily on the education processes here in Italy, and how education and culture surrounding education is similar and different from education in the United States.

In a macro sense, education is highly valued in Italy, just as it is in the United States. This is especially true in the industrial region in the north of Italy (where Bergamo is located). There is a heavy emphasis on school, education and learning in general. As in the United States, many students continue on toward higher education, yet the rates vary quite a bit in comparison to the United States. In the north and central parts of Italy, education rates and dropout rates are similar to the United States. In the south, however, rates plunge. Many young adults do not go on to higher education, and many drop out early from secondary education. This trend follows many things, such as unemployment being much higher in the south, corruption being much higher in the south, etc.

In a micro sense, the students I am meeting and classes I am taking here could not be better. This study abroad program puts an extremely high emphasis on the exchange of cultures between the American students and Italian students. Not only are we learning new business material, but we are also learning a new culture and language, and making new friends. The Italians that I have interacted with take schooling very seriously. They seem motivated to learn, and due to a tough economic climate in Italy currently, they are very diligent in their work. One difference in the way Italians and Americans view school is how they dress. Americans are extremely casual, with most students wearing athletic and comfortable clothes (tennis shoes, basketball shorts, leggings, T-shirts, etc.). Italians, on the other hand, dress up for class. Most guys wear jeans/long pants, a button down or nice shirt, and a jacket. The girls wear styling clothes, and many wear blouses and nice jeans/trousers. Italian students view the classroom in a more formal sense than Americans do. Another difference is the types of exams. Many Italians have informed me that their tests are oral exams. They also seem to have more group work in their classes, and this carries over to their exams. The traditional American exam of multiple choice, fill in the blank and workout questions are not as common here in Italy.

Overall, schooling and how people view it remains the same. Both Americans and Italians value learning, education and the pursuit of knowledge. The way they go about achieving these values, though, is where things get a little different.

About the blogger

Connor C. is studying abroad on the Business: Italy program in Bergamo, Italy.

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