Name: Kim Le
Major: Art and Design
Hometown: Hochimin, Vietnam
Destination: Florence, Italy
Institution: TU in Italy: Lorenzo de’Medici, Florence campus
First, I must say that I absolutely love all my classes in Florence, including the elective class that made me write 12 pages research with 1.5 space (yes, I am looking at you, History of Costume!). Nearing the end of the semester, though, like every other sane college students, I am starting to look back in horror at the huge distance between reality and my expectation of classes in Florence. What happened to a ‘relaxing and carefree semester filled with adventures and making new friends and… what do you mean classes? What are classes?’ Sitting here in the middle of the night drowning in homework was certainly not what I expected before leaving, but it makes me wonder how much of myths were there in all these opinions about studying abroad. I have heard so many but right now, I can count the most popular ones here:
1. Classes are EASY.
Being an Art major taking three studio classes this semester, I have to say, 5 hours classes are not easy. I am allowed 2 absences for each class, but when skipping a studio class means 5 hours extra work, no idea how to use new techniques, and what is that new disaster on my table that no professor is around telling me how to fix?! The materials for all classes are not easy either. A sentence I cannot forget from my professor is “This is a very good class; everyone is doing very well, so I will give all a B”. The difference? There are only B+ or B-, no normal B. I am still not sure if this is funny or not, since the way he said it so sincerely like he was giving the whole class an A and compliments. It does not help at all that homework is poking at me every chance it has, making sure my love affair with open lab studio outweighed the joy of beaches and mountains and ancient cities that I could have visited more if only I have more time.
2. Attendance is not important.
Third absence – one grade down, fourth absence – congrats, you just failed a class! It actually scared me in the beginning, because, come on, who would make us choose between an extra day in Greece or France and two hours of class (if you are lucky, since studio classes last 5 hours a week, or probably unlucky enough having to stay just because of 2 hours)? Nearly no excuse would EVER be accepted, even if you were sick with doctor’s note.
3. Classes? Which classes?
Okay, when I read the advising articles online, it seemed that classes do not even exist to us studying abroad students, or at least not related much to our experiences. What a lie. I learned and enjoyed my classes so much that I do not even mind (much) the long hours and extra hours spent on studio (which is such a scary idea I must burry it down to the deepest pit of self-denial). The classes’ facilities are not the best, but all of my professors are so enthusiastic and knowledgeable that now I am regretting having to leave.