Erasmus in the Czech Republic by Chiara Anna Palladino

My name is Chiara Anna Palladino and I am an Erasmus student from Italy. I study Foreign Languages and Literatures at the University of Salerno.

In a few lines I would like to highlight the main differences between the Italian and the Czech university systems. First of all I want to say that Erasmus is not only a project but it is a life experience that I recommend to all.

I lived in Brno for six months and I studied at Masaryk University.It is a great university that comprises several faculties. I attended courses in English, Czech and Russian at the Faculty of Arts and at the Faculty of Education.

The first thing I noticed was that the teachers are all young, active and kind. The academic atmosphere is friendly. Students and teachers have a very close relationship. In Italy this is not common because the lectures are taken by more than 200 students so there is no way to communicate with the teacher.

In Brno the number of students within a class is 20 at most. The learning system is also different. Lectures are not boring and static but interactive. Teachers propose several group activities promoting conversation. This method was new for me and it scared me because in Italy we are not used to interacting with others during classes, but it has definitely improved my speaking. The practical domain is a strength that is lacking in the Italian university, where the focus is mainly on theory.

Another difference is the credit system. In Italy an exam is worth 9 credits so I had to take 2 or 3 exams for every one I would take in Italy. This was a big problem for me because in one month I had to take 9 exams, which fortunately I was able to pass, as the university gives the opportunity to resit an exam more than once.

Assessment methods and examinations consist of: written essays, tests, quizzes or oral presentations in front of a full class, and generally the pass mark is 70%. In Italy 50% is enough. Oral examinations, common in Italy, are rather rare.

Compared to my university system I noticed that the system of Masaryk University is more interesting, involving and effective. It leads the student to think and reflect on what he is studying.

The learning system, in Italian universities is traditional and contains nothing innovative. The only thing the student can do is observe slides, listen to the teacher and take notes. In Italy the majority of teachers are well prepared but elderly; they do not propose new teaching methods based on the active participation of the student in class but simply explain and complete the programme without worrying about what students learn (blitz quizzes, short revision tests, seminars and cooperative learning are not common).

Lectures are not compulsory. A course is taught more than once a week. As for examinations, it is rare that a teacher asks students to prepare an essay or an oral presentation. Most of the exams are oral. For ordinary exams, universities in Italy use a 30-point scale, with non-passing (0-17) and passing grades (18 to 30 cum laude). For the final rating a 110-point scale, which incorporates scores from exams and the final thesis, is used.