Italian Diaries

Sankesh Sankapani is a final year Mechanical Engineering student who opted for an exchange program in an Italian University – The Politecnico di Milano, and returned to MIT in the beginning of this semester to complete his bachelor’s degree. Here we have VishwaKrishnakumar of second year RPT interviewing him regarding his experience studying abroad. The MIT Quill thanks Sankesh for sparing his time and giving us this insightful interview.

1. Can you please introduce yourself to the readers?

Hi, my name is Sankesh. I’m a final year Mechanical Engineering student.

2. How was your experience in Italy as an exchange student?

Even sitting in the class was a different experience there. The class room environment, infrastructure and the students around me were all different from what I experienced in MIT. Moreover the students in Italy were competent and hard working for their grades.

3. Can you tell some details about the college you studied?

The college I studied is The Politecnico di Milano, it is in Milan ,Italy. It ranks 17th in the technical universities around the world in mechanical engineering. The college has a great campus with good infrastructure.It has seven campuses in total. I studied in 2 of them, both of which were inside the city of Milan

4. What were the challenges you faced in the initial days of your stay?

One of the main challenges was to get a place to stay, I couldn’t get a house to stay initially, even the college couldn’t offer a hostel room. I somehow managed to get a room for rent from one of my contacts. Secondly, language was a huge problem. Most of the classes were taught in Italian, so it was very difficult for me to catch up with it. However, fortunately for me, the Professors were willing to help in that situation. And finally, it was difficult for me to adapt to the winter season. The winters were too cold, it even went till 2 degrees. Initially it was difficult, but eventually I was ok with everything.

5. What differences did you find between Indian and Italian academic system?

I didn’t feel a difference in the academic system between both. I felt both were the same. The difference what I found was only in the quality of students. They were more involved into the subject they are learning.
The courses over there were more specialized than here. But I feel AU is better in that sense since we get a stronger foundation rather than a specialization.

6. Did the culture of Italy have an impact on you?

Yes, one of the biggest pros would be the following of traffic rules. I consider that as part of their culture. The people there respect the rules implemented by their government. Secondly the people there were so friendly, they thank us even for small things. They were very respectful and extended a very good hospitality to the foreigners.

7. How were the people in Italy?

They were so friendly, most of the people were very caring and helped me a lot in many ways. I even managed to get a bunch of friends from there.I also traveled alone a lot, and met a lot of new people, all of whom were kind to me.

8. Where shall the students find information on exchange programme and also about scholarships for it?

Students shall go to the Centre Of International Affairs, Anna University to get more information regarding the exchange programmes.

Choose a college, see if you have appropriate matching courses. Check with CIA, they’ll introduce you to the representative of that University. Till this first 2 or 3 weeks gone. If you are selected, they’ll send acceptance mail. Then you have to follow the exit procedures from Anna University, such as showing proof of matching courses, confirming dates and duration of program, then they’ll conduct a Minutes meeting between your department and Academic courses Centre of AU. They’ll only confirm your exit from college. In the meantime, you have to follow the entry procedures of the university you’re going to. This process is usually 1.5 to 2 months long.

After you finish with the process above, you’ll get a confirmation letter of exit from AU and also you’ll have the invite from the foreign university. With this you apply for visa

Some important points to remember include :
1. Check if the MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) between AU and that university has not expired.
2. Check if you have subjects matching with what you need to do in AU, and the University that you’re going to (with minimum 60%match).

9. Can you elaborate on the requirements to qualify for the programme?

You should be having 8+ CGPA and also no history of arrears.

10. Do you have a piece of advice to give your juniors regarding the programme?

Yes, they should be clear about what they are about to experience and know the challenges they may face. They should study well, and use the opportunity efficiently.If they are selected and going abroad, they should remember that they represent AU and also India. So they should make sure that they are at their best behavior at all times. Personally, I’ve had a lot of people come talk to me just because I’m from India, since they believe that our country has a very rich and diverse culture

Interviewed by Vishwa Krishnakumar, Second Year, RPT.

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