Italian school vs. American school

Today marks 2 months of going to an Italian high school! I have survived! :) During those 2 months, I have noticed some VERY different things about school in Italy versus my school in the US. Here are some of my observations. By they way, this is not meant to offend anyone, these are just MY observations about MY Italian school. Every Italian high school is different. I go to a language school, but there are so many different types of schools including art school, classical school, cooking school, technical school, etc. Anyway, here are my observations about the differences between Italian school and school in the US. Enjoy!

First of all, Italian school has a different schedule than American school. In Italy, my school starts at 8:30 and ends at 1:10, while in the US, my school starts at 7:45 and ends at 3:00. Also, Italian schools have school on Saturdays (at least mine does, but there are some that don’t). In Italy every day, I have two classes, a 10 minute snack break, and then three more classes. Then I eat lunch at home with my family. I like the aspect of having a snack break because I get to buy really yummy sandwiches, cookies, or other snacks in the tiny cafeteria in school. It’s really tiny compared to ones in the US. I feel like everything is tinier here, it’s really cute! My Italian school has vending machines with snacks all over school as well as coffee vending machines if you just want coffee. Isn’t that just super cool? The coffee is so much cheaper here too, I love it! The US should really step up their game.

In the US, the teachers aren’t just their to teach, they are there to help the students understand what they are learning. The teachers are your friends, you can laugh with them, hang out with them during lunch, and talk about anything with them (well, most of them lol). In Italy, that is not the case. The teachers are NOT your friends. They are just your teachers, and their only job is to teach. If you have a question on homework or need tutoring from a teacher after school…well, you don’t get to have that here. You enter school at 8:30 and leave right away at 1:10. That’s just the way it is. Another thing about Italian teachers: They are crazy! My science teacher is from southern Italy, so he speaks a different dialect of Italian..I can’t understand him at all! I asked some of my classmates if they can understand him, and even they have a hard time understanding him sometimes! He is also very loud, so he’ll just yell out random phrases for no reason, it’s pretty funny! My French teacher is very serious about teaching and she gets super upset with us if we talk during class or don’t listen to her. Even if it’s just a whisper she’ll start yelling at us and lecturing us about how she’s the teacher and we should listen to her! If a teacher is absent in the US, we have a substitute teacher and we still have to learn stuff during that hour. In Italy, if the teacher decides not to show up (which happens a lot), the students have no class at all and can do whatever they want!! Okay sometimes they have a substitute, but like once in a blue moon!

Another thing about Italian school, they have SO MANY tests! I’m serious, they have at least 4 – 5 tests every week, sometimes more! In the US it’s usually only 1 – 2 per week. Italians study 24/7 here. After school at 1:10 they go straight home and study for hours. Even if they don’t have any homework, they study what they learned in class that day again and again and again. And when I say study, I mean they memorize the text books front to back. In the US there is more homework than studying, but in Italy it is definitely more studying and memorizing.

The way of testing in Italy are also very different. They have these oral tests called “interrogazione” where the teacher calls out a random name of a student, and then they ask the student a couple questions about ANYTHING from the assigned pages of the textbook in front of the whole class. So if you did not study, and you are not prepared for the test, that’s too bad and you’re going to embarrass yourself in front of everyone. Luckily I haven’t had to take this kind of test yet since I’m an exchange student! The other type of test here is the essay. This is where the teacher asks the class one question and the students have to write a 3 – 5 page essay answering the question. The tests for language classes are pretty much the same – translating sentences and fill in the black. Sadly, there is no multiple choice here!

The grading system is different as well. In the US, you get letter grades: A, B, C, D, or F. Here, it’s number grades from 1 to 10, 10 being the highest. To pass the class, you have to get at least a 6. It’s almost impossible to get a 10 unless you’re really bright and all you do is study and you have no social life whatsoever…you might get a 9 1/2.

In the US, the students move classrooms every hour and get 5 minute breaks between each class. In Italy, the teachers move classrooms and the students get no breaks between each class. That means the students stay in one classroom with the same people and sit in the same seat the whole year! I like how all of the students stay together, they become really close friends with each other. I’ve also noticed that clicks are not a thing here, everyone is just friends with everyone! Italians are so friendly.

Italian schools don’t have clubs or activities. You just go to school to study and then go home. No after school sports, no theater clubs, nothing. If you want to do something non-academic, you have to find it outside of school. I don’t like that aspect of school here, I think it’s fun to join clubs with your friends and have school dances and activities.

The style of teaching here is WAY different. In the US, we mostly do group work and the teacher helps us individually. There are 4 people per table and the teacher’s desk is in the corner. Here in Italy, the teacher lectures the students the whole hour and the students take notes, yay… Also, each student gets their own desk and all of the desks are pointed towards the teacher’s desk in the front of the room in front of the blackboard.

The policy of no food and no phones in class is the same for both Italy and the US. But in Italy, it’s really easy for students to break the rules because each desk has a little shelf underneath them where you can store books and phones and food, and the teachers are not very good at paying attention to what the students do in class so..it’s pretty easy.

Well, those are some of my observations on Italian school vs. American school. Hope you enjoyed reading this and found it helpful! Feel free to comment or ask questions, ciao!

 

15 thoughts on “Italian school vs. American school

  1. Pingback: Meet Italian exchange student: Matteo Sarais – Ruff Draft

  2. Everything you said is correct but one. You wrote that to pass a class you have to get 4 or 5. This is not true, you need a 6 in every class to go to next grade. If you arrive at June and you have, let’s say a 5 in math you have to study all the math curriculum at home during the summer and take an exam in September. If you pass it, you’ll go to next grade, otherwise you are “bocciato” and you have to stay in the same grade, studying everything again without go the next one. Ciao :))

    Like

  3. Hi ,so I may be going to italy to do my high school and I am really scared to.A lot of my friends have gone there even though they dont know the language at all and they have passed but I feel like if I went I would immediantly fail.Its just so scaryyy.

    Like

    • Living in a different country was one of the scariest experiences of my life, but the most amazing at the same time. Taking challenges is part of life. It is how you grow, thrive, and learn. To have such an experience to go abroad is one that should not be passed up. Even though you are scared and you think you will fail, you won’t. It’s impossible to fail. Even if you don’t fully learn the language when you are there, you still will have gained so much more. I made so many mistakes in Italy I wouldn’t be able to count. But making mistakes is how we learn. How would we learn if we never made mistakes? You just have to remember that this is your experience and no one expects you to “pass.” Just because your friends did doesn’t mean you have to. You can make your own definition of “pass,” whether that be learning Italian, making friends, or learning about the culture. It is your experience, your time in Italy, your time to be whoever you want to be. I hope you decide to take this experience. I am definite that you will thank yourself later!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Sienna.
    Your thoughts about the Italian school are very interesting. We should learn a lot from them.
    Yes, in Italy there is still the medieval schema of the teacher at the center, whith the students having a low importance.
    I hope that your message will hit the right persons that can do something to improve the schools and to consider them an investiment for the future (and not a cost).

    Thanks a lot
    bye

    Liked by 1 person

  5. hello, it is true, there are many differences between the Italian and American schools, we follow rigid patterns and unfortunately not in step with the times. I would have loved to attend schools abroad …

    Liked by 1 person

  6. hello, it is true, there are many differences between the Italian and American schools, we follow rigid patterns and unfortunately not in step with the times. I would have loved to attend schools abroad …

    Like

  7. She noticed that Italian school has a different schedule than American school. In Italy, my school starts at 8:30 and ends at 1:10, while in the US, my school starts at 7:45 and ends at 3:00. Also, Italian schools have school on Saturdays (at least mine does, but there are some that don’t).n Italy, the teachers are NOT your friends. They are just your teachers, and their only job is to teach.Italian school, there are MANY tests and homework.The grading system is different as well. In Italy, the teachers move classrooms not hte students.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s