Personal support ensures success of Italian exchange program

Published 05 September 2011

italiansThe two men who have guided a student-exchange program between the University of New England in Armidale, NSW, and the University of Macerata in central Italy over the past 10 years met again at UNE last week.

Alfredo Luzi, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Italian Literature at the University of Macerata, visited UNE just a few weeks after the arrival in Armidale of the latest exchange student from Macerata.

“The success of the program is largely due to the close working relationship between me and Brennan Wales, Convener of Italian here at UNE,” Professor Luzi said, “and the personal support we’re able to give the exchange students. It’s important for them to have a mentor they can turn to.”

“Everything here is very different from student life in Italy,” said the recently-arrived Italian student, Elisabetta Angelini (pictured above with Professor Luzi). “It’s much more informal here. In Italy, for example, we have oral exams, while here you have assignments.”

Laura Churcher, a UNE student who spent last year at the University of Macerata, agreed that the academic side of student life in Italy was “much more formal”, but added that the formality of the classroom was balanced by “always having coffee and gelato with friends” after class.

“It was an amazing experience – living in a typical Italian village and studying at an Italian university,” Laura said. While in Italy she completed an internship with the coffee-machine company Nuova Simonelli, which she recalls as “an altogether wonderful experience during which I drank a lot of coffee”.

After completing her UNE degree program in International Business and Languages, Laura hopes to return to Italy and put her knowledge of the language to use.

For her part, Elisabetta is finding Armidale “a perfect city to study in”. “Australians are friendly and kind,” she said, “and I love the Australian accent”. She is living in Wright Village, UNE’s complex of self-catering flats for students.

A student of foreign languages and literatures, Elisabetta’s semester of study at UNE will count towards her Macerata degree. Her ambition is to teach Italian in an English-speaking country.

UNE and the University of Macerata are of a similar size, and are both located in small regional cities. The exchange program gives students a much-appreciated chance to experience life outside the capital cities. Since it began 10 years ago, a total of around 30 students have taken part in the program.

The signing of an agreement at the beginning of 2011 renewed this successful program for another five years.