What are the main differences between an English University and a say an Italian or Spanish one?

whats the difference between contact hours, independent study time, and teaching styles etc.

This question was asked on 13th September 2014 and has been read 4436 times.

  • Romy Higgins · 8 years ago

    I can't speak for an italian university and obviously unis vary a lot in a country, but in my Spanish university, which was private so I don't know if that is different to public, I had the same amount of contact hours as at home, which was around 12 a week.  The lessons were 1.5 hours which is longer and they started at 8.30am.  All classes were also finished by 2.30 as lunch is later in Spain.  I got a fair amount of homework and they did expect us to do some extra study, especially for grammar but I still had plenty of time to socialise and travel.  We had a few days off for public holidays as well.  I did a course that was meant for foreign students but the teachers were all very dynamic and interesting, some used textbooks whereas others used power points and practical work, so there was enough variation to keep things interesting.  The one thing I'd say is the main difference between a lot of Spanish and uk universities is that they are a lot more disorganised, in that it's hard to find information about modules online, and getting admin stuff done takes days.  I was lucky in that my uni had an online blackboard with module information and there was a team there to support foreign students, but at others it's worth asking students who've already been to help you find info.

  • Rawnie-Leah Mills · 8 years ago

    I have to agree with Romy about the disorganisation - I went to Florence University and it was a complete nightmare trying to get all of the admin done, it took us about a month to enrol properly because the faculties don't communicate! I guess it depends uni to uni but it took a bit of getting used to. For the presentations and course work we had to go to the local copisteria and get our own copies of them, the uni didn't give us any handouts or booklets, we had to do it all ourselves. I suppose in a way it gives you a lot more independence. I had to do four modules as opposed to 6 in my UK institution but I was still in uni for around 13 hours a week - 5 for double Spanish, 4 for politics and 4 for tourism. There are modules you can find that are taught in English but these are mainly Masters modules and therefore a fair bit more work. But if you take a class in Italian normally they will say that you can do the exam in English if you're not comfortable doing it in Italian. 

    Hope this helps a bit!

  • Jack Sellen (CIOL) · 7 years ago

    I went to a university in Northern Italy on Erasmus for half of my year abroad and it too was very disorganised. I was also under the illusion that I would be presented with a timetable upon arrival, as in England, but had to draw up my own. It was tough but it certainly helped me develop my language skills and deepened my understanding of Italian culture. An important part of your year abroad is being well out of your comfort zone! :-) Making local friends will be especially important in figuring it all out. Equally, try to resist the temptation of hanging out with other UK students / international students (the latter will want to practice their English on you but you'll gain little or nothing from this!)

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