Because taking care of the Earth isn't just for hippies!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

I think I've figured out why there are so many Italian saints...

In order to live here without going crazy one needs to learn the patience of a saint.

So, as of now, the subtitle of my blog is still now quite accurate. Yes, I'm an environmental scientist, yes, I'm in Rome, yes, I'm enrolled at a pontifical university, but studying?  Not quite.  I've yet to have a single class.  I'm not actually sure when I will have class.  Overall, I've made a point not to make this blog primarily stories of negative/challenging experiences in Rome (there have been plenty of them) because I'd rather focus on the positive aspects of my year here.  However, I felt the need to keep everyone updated on this subject.

So, I'll start from the beginning.  I came to Rome at the end of September, expecting my classes to start the first week in November.  I figured it would be good to have 5 weeks to learn the language and get settled before classes started.  The second or third day I was here, I ventured over to my university to make sure my registration was all squared away and to pay for my classes.  That went fairly well, but I left feeling like I didn't really know anything about the program that I should know.  Here, there seems to be no such thing as "student orientation," "academic advisor," etc.  It's common practice for students to show up at the school on the first day of classes to look at the list and see if they have classes that day or not until another day. Getting your class schedule ahead of time is rare.  For me, I have my class schedule.  Classes meet on Mondays, pretty much all day long.  The trick is, which Mondays do they meet?

Originally, the website for my Master's program said classes began on November 7. So on November 7, I got all of my stuff together and showed up at the university at 8:30 am, half an hour before classes were supposed to start just in case there were any unexpected obstacles (there always are).  I was told the room where classes would be meeting would be posted somewhere on the first day of classes.  I looked around, and I didn't see any mention of the environmental science program.  I looked around some more, and on the second floor, I found a printout of the program from 2005 hanging on the wall.  I went back downstairs and asked the man at the reception desk if he knew where the environmental science master's program was meeting.  He said probably in the Master's room, and if not, in the room next door. I went upstairs to the Master's room, to find it locked and empty, as well as the room next door.  I went back downstairs and asked again.  He suggested I go ask someone in Room 202B. So I go to the second floor, B wing and find all of the offices for the different programs. Most of them are empty (it is only a little after 9 am), so I find someone there and ask them. They have no clue, and ask why I asked them.  Then they realize I was confused, I was actually in room 102B, since in Italy the floor you come in at is 0 and the one above it is 1.  So I go upstairs and ask the professor in room 202B (his class had a 15 minute break).  He really has no clue why I was sent to him, as he is a philosophy professor.  So I go back down to the reception desk and ask again if he knows anyone who might know.  He suggests the program coordinator, but he probably won't be in his office until 10 or 11.  I should ask the secretary's office.  Too bad they aren't open until 11 either.  Well, I walk over to the secretary and hear people talking in the office.  I ring them bell, and they open the door looking at me like I'm crazy for wanting to talk to them when it's not office hours.  I ask them, and they say the environmental science program doesn't start until later in the month, but they don't know when.  OK. At least I had found out something.  I go downstairs to see if the computer lab is open, and miraculously it is!  I go in and check out the website for the program - it now says that classes start on November 28.  Why couldn't anyone else I had asked look at that? Why wasn't I ever notified of the change of dates?  I don't know, and I don't think I will ever know.

So, I had an extra month.  Not a horrible thing, I suppose.  I decided to sign up for another month of intensive Italian classes to fill up my time and try to accomplish something in the month of November.  The Italian classes went well and the month went by pretty fast.  November 27 rolls around, and I'm starting to get really excited to finally start classes!!  Sunday night, I decide to check the website for the program just to make absolutely sure I have class the next day.  Turns out, I DON'T. Nope. Classes now start January 8. Oh, and they still end June 30, the same date they ended when they were starting on November 7. Upon further inspection, I realized I would also no longer be receiving a diploma, but a "certificate of completion." What's that supposed to mean? I don't know, but it doesn't sound good.

So I emailed the secretary, asking why the classes were postponed again and if they would be starting for sure on the 8th or if they might be postponed yet again.  The response I received was that currently classes are scheduled to start on the 8th and any changes will be posted to the program's website.  Right. So here I am now.  I have until January 8th, and I'm not sure if my program will be postponed further or maybe even cancelled.  I'm currently in the process of trying to figure out what exactly is the deal here, so I'll be sure to post updates once I have the whole story. 

In the meantime, I've bought a regional rail pass for the month of December, so I plan on taking lots of day trips.  Get ready for lots of beautiful pictures!!

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At 8:12 PM, Anonymous Lina Martin said...

oh claire.. honey, i'm sorry... and whats a certificate of completion? and how can they take your money and pull this? :( you should take a marian pilgrimmage to fatima and/or lourdes and pray for your school and that brian and i have babies :)

love you and i'll write soon, i promise,


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