A Semester in Italy – Florence University – by Sara Desrocher. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports
Buonasera, I am reaching the halfway point of my semester here in Montespertoli, Italy. Time is flying by! My classes are a little different from back home; I am taking a couple 4 credit classes, an Italian course, an Independent Study Project, an internship and field trips every once in a while. Last week our field trip was to the University of Florence where we got to sit in on an Economics class. I enjoyed this because I could experience what an Italian college class is like; turns out that it is very similar to my classes at St. Scholastica. The classroom was equipped with a projector, used for a PowerPoint to go along with the lecture. I noted some differences with the classroom in itself. The chairs are connected behind the table, condensing them so that more rows can fit into the room. This means that in order to get into middle seats, the students on the outside all have to move to let people in and out. You want to make sure you use the restroom before this class so you don’t have to make half of the row stand up for you! There are coat hangers on the wall so that you don’t have to try to keep your coat at your feet.
Another difference within the classroom at Florence is the large doors leading outside. There doors are emergency exits but they are used by students during the break, which is about 20 minutes long. Students and professors take advantage of this break to either go to the cafe for an espresso or take a smoke break. The picture features students from multiple classes smoking outside of the classrooms during the break. The class in itself is very similar to other classes that I have taken. The professor gave a lecture while students took notes on the PowerPoint. One thing that I noticed is that many of the students spent the first 15 minutes of the lecture on their phones. I chuckled at the familiarity of seeing the girl in front of me scroll through her Instagram.
I take my classes in a room at the residence that I am staying at; two different professors come here to teach us. One thing that I noticed right away that I was not used to is the flexibility with class time. Class starts at 9:30 but it usually doesn’t actually start until 9:40 or so, as students make their way in. The professors tend to run past the end of class as well, it is not uncommon for class to get out 10-15 minutes past the end of the hour so that they can finish their lesson. After this, we have a large lunch break. It is usually around two and a half hours. This is the universal lunchtime throughout the city, nearly all of the shops and stores will be closed. The people of the town all return home to spend time preparing and eating lunch while leaving time for naps or anything that they need to do before headed back to work.
About our special correspondent Sara Desrocher: I am a junior at St. Scholastica majoring in Computer Science with a concentration of Software Engineering. I am staying in a small town about 25 minutes outside of Florence, Italy with a HECUA program. My current studies are focused on Agriculture and Sustainability, which is very interesting to learn about in Europe. I chose this program because Italy has always been a place that I wanted to visit, mainly due to the fact that my great-grandfather came here from southern Italy. This is my first time in Europe and it has been quite the experience so far. I am excited for even more experiences as I gain a better understanding of the community!
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The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm
Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.
(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu