Problems and Needs of International Students in Italy

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Problems and Needs of International PhD Students at Politecnico di Torino An Input from Pakistani Students
This document provides a feedback and contribution towards understanding the problems and needs of a number of Pakistani students enrolled in various PhD programs at Politecnico di Torino. It enlists some of the problems with their suggested solutions. M. Jamaluddin Thaheem 4/2/2010

Going abroad for obtaining PhD is an important decision in a number of ways. One of the significant concerns is the uncertainties pertaining to the place one is going to: what kind of people I’ll be dealing with; what kind of environment will I get and will I be able to make friends? These and various other questions pop up when one lands in a new country. Italy has been a good place for the international students from Pakistan enrolled in various PhD programs at Politecnico di Torino (students). Italian people and culture, despite of being new, have been found quite welcoming and hospitable. The friendly and polite staff of Politecnico has put in their best to ease our registration and other documentation processes. Nevertheless, there always are some hurdles people, from different countries and cultures, face when abroad. This document presents the “problems” and “needs” of students: 1. Internationalization: One of the first problems faced by students is lack of English as medium of communication. Ranging from registration forms to official correspondence (in form of daily emails); almost all the printed material is available in Italian only. Also, a number of Level-III courses are also given in Italian which makes it practically impossible for students to be able to attend them and thus they lose the opportunity to learn some significant and important lessons. Though, the International Students’ Office has been doing their best but they also face a severe scope limitation when it comes to academic and research issues. In this regard, following measures may be employed to enhance further internationalization: 1.1. The official correspondence may be done in Italian and English; this way, not only Italian students will be able to remain informed, but a lot of precious time, which otherwise is spent in translating the emails, will be saved and international students will be able to understand the actual meaning of correspondence (translation using Google is not always correct). 1.2. For those courses of level-III where English speaking tutors are available, may be conducted in both Italian and English, or may be conducted only in English with the consent of Italian students. 1.3. The Language Centre (CLA) has been very active in promoting the English language. Programs like “English Speaking Partners” and “Reading Club” must be encouraged and supported.

2. Localization: For the students, it is extremely important be localized in native environment. Despite having expressed the need for internationalization, the students are aware of the importance to learn Italian language and cultural facts and details. Because, without this knowledge and information, it is practically impossible to relish and appreciate Italian culture, which, without any traces of doubt, is one of the most famous cultures in world.

In this regard, following measures may be employed to improve the state and situation of localization: 2.1. Comprehensive and substantial Italian language programs may be offered to students ranging from basic to advance levels. Teaching material and medium of instruction may be selected as English for such language programs. 2.2. CLA currently runs a very interesting program called “English Speaking Partners”. It is a very effective program whose positive outcomes will be long-lasting. Keeping in view that model, a similar program may be offered to students where they can get the opportunity to not only practice their Italian language skills but also come in contact with Italian students, be able to socialize with them, make...
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