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!