Lauren in Padua: Adapting to studying online and language learning
2020 has been a challenging year, especially for those of us who live and study abroad. While many put their plans to move to another country on hold, Dialexy terminologist Lauren didn’t let a pandemic stop her and moved to Italy in September to do a master's degree.
In this blog, I caught up with Lauren to find out about how she has adapted to studying online and whether she has experienced any language or cultural barriers. If you want to read about Lauren’s initial moving abroad experience then check out the first blog in the Lauren in Padua series.
I know it’s been a couple of years since you finished your undergraduate degree, how have you found going back into education?
Overall it's going really well! It’s definitely a big change going from working full time to going back to studying so I am still figuring out how to balance studying, working part-time and socialising. I feel like I could spend all my extra hours reading as the course requires a lot of legal knowledge and coming from a linguistic background I am not very familiar with it. I also have 24 hours of classes from Monday to Wednesday back to back, so it's quite intense. Since I work and study at home I think it's important to be able to go out, get some fresh air and chat with others from time to time. I’m just trying to work out how to manage it all!
How are you finding learning online? Do you have any advice for how to make the most out of learning online?
I find learning online definitely has its positives and negatives. The positive side to it is that all of the lectures are recorded, so you are able to rewatch them if the teacher goes too fast or you want to go over a concept again. It also means that people who are studying from a different time zone can watch the lectures at a suitable time of day for them. Another really lovely thing is that people seem to be more confident to participate in discussions and I certainly have participated more than I would have in a big lecture hall.
I do find it tricky staying focused at home, especially knowing that I can rewatch the lectures at any time. Sometimes it's too easy to just have a break or go do some washing during class! I've just started to go to study rooms in the city to follow classes and I've found that works a lot better for me. I sometimes find the chat on zoom very distracting as people write in it during lectures, but a lot of the time the comments are very interesting, it's just hard to focus on the teacher and read them at the same time!
Have you found any language or cultural barriers? I know you have been staying with a family so either with the family, while “at” university or just in general?
I haven't experienced any cultural barriers but this is probably because I have spent a lot of time in Italy before living with families. I guess I knew what to expect, so I immediately felt at ease moving here to do a workaway with a family. Cultural barriers aren’t something you should be afraid of and living with a family is a great way to embrace other cultures.
In terms of the language, at times, there are words that I don’t know but we always find a way to communicate and I have learned many new words in the past couple of months! My course is taught in English, so my course mates speak very good English. It definitely helps to know Italian though when trying to find out information at the university or just in general when in the city.
Leading on from that, how important do you think it is to learn the native language of where you’re living?
I think it’s very important, and coming from a language background, I almost feel rude when I don’t know the language of the country I am in. I wouldn't have chosen to study in a place without knowing the language first, despite my course being in English. When going out with my friends who do not speak Italian, I often find I have to help them to communicate. The university offers a free Italian course for international students, so there's no excuse not to learn the language!
If you enjoyed reading about Lauren’s experience studying abroad then be sure to read the next blog in the series here where we talk about finding accommodation and the different procedures that Lauren went through.
We may not have Emily in Paris but we do have Lauren in Padua! Alla prossima settimana!