If you’re looking for studying in a Northern Italian city, neither too big, nor too small, and with a medical university with an excellent reputation, Padova is your place!
We know that when choosing a university, what helps most is a realistic insight – what is it really like living there, how are classes organized, will it be easy finding an apartment? We asked Saara, a current student there, to share her experience on the university course and life in Padova.
Padova University is one of the oldest not only in Italy but in the world. More than that, it’s Italian- thaught medical program has always been close to legendary – ask any Italian and they’ll tell you the same. It was, however, the last one to open an English-thaught medical program in Italy, only two years ago in 2019. Since it’s a very newly opened program we still don’t know how will the clinical years be organized. Nevertheless, read ahead to get a glimpse of what studying in Padova feels like!
[Disclaimer]: The minimal IMAT scores differ from year to year. Also, keep in mind that the EU and Non-EU ranking lists work entirely differently.
The following are the scores for acceptance to the academic year 2020/2021:
- EU minimal score: 45.1
- Non-EU minimal score: 27.5 (1st ranking)
Classes take place in an old beautiful hall – “Aula Morgagni”, only a block away from the university hospital, not far from the city center. With a medium class size of 63, students are not divided into groups during lectures. Interestingly, Padova kept its 63 places in both its first and second year since it opened but changed the ratio of EU to non-EU students – 54/9 in 2019 to 48/15 in 2020.
As to the attendance, students have to be present in a minimum of 75% of lectures. This is tracked through an app. The professor gives a “class code” at the beginning of the lecture and those who are present insert it in their personal app. I was quite impressed when I heard of it as other Universities are less tech-savvy when it comes to such things.
Once you get your attendance square, you’re allowed to sit the exams.
Exams in the first year are written with an expectation of a shift towards more oral exams in the upper years. A big plus is that you don’t need to finish all exams from the current year, in order to enroll in the following year. You can attempt any exam 5 times, after which, if you still haven’t managed to pass it, you’ll need to attend the class again. But you will NOT repeat the whole year.
As a med student myself, this is a big one. Some Universities (Pavia for example) have a rule that if you don’t pass all subjects in a given year, you’d have to indeed repeat the whole year. There are different opinions on the matter. Some students like this rule because it gives a limit to their perfectionism of retaking an exam when they don’t like their grade (you guys, this is a thing!). On the other hand, the rule puts quite a lot of pressure as you’d lose both money and time if you’d have to repeat a year. Med school is difficult by itself and I, personally, could live without the extra pressure.
One of the program’s objectives is to give comprehensive practical training. Similar to other international med-schools in Italy, it organized its program to give the students a rather condense theoretical knowledge in the first years, become more practical within clinical years, beginning from the 3rd/4th year, and leave the 6th year for thesis and hospital traineeships with little to no exams to take. This is one of the major differences to Italian-thaught medical programs, where the focus is a bit more on the theoretical side and less tightly packed with exams in the first years.
Here’s an example: during the first year in Padova, there’s a chemistry lab to complement the chemistry classes. Another thing Padova is proud of is the possibility to offer its students a feel of the clinical experience as early as the 1st year! And during the 2nd year, there’s a Radiology internship in the hospital, differently from most other medical international universities, where clinical traineeships start in the 3rd or even 4th year.
Albeit it is an international course taught in English, a certain understanding of Italian is needed as the clinical years approach. Therefore, students are required to reach a minimum level of B1 in Italian language by the beginning of the 4th year to ensure proper communication between students, patients, and doctors. The university provides some free Italian classes for foreigners.
A mind-blowingly awesome solution Padova University found to combat the language barrier between foreign students and native Italian patients, is that students have some of their practical experience in a US army hospital in Vicenza (a 30 min drive from Padova). Students get to do their clinical rotations in English!
Padova has historically always been proud to be known as a university town. So naturally, there’s an abundance of libraries and study rooms where you can comfortably and unashamedly spend those long hours with your books as the med student vampire that you are.
Even if only 2 years old, the program already has an Erasmus alliance with Strasburg University, so starting from the 4th year of their studies, students can participate in the exchange program.
Padova is also one of the 7 Universities taking part in the ARCUS alliance (https://www.arqus-alliance.eu/ )- an international organization aiming to equalize research standards across Europe and thus confirming Padova’s place among the best research universities worldwide.
Similar to the rest of the international med schools in Italy, tuition is calculated based on the student’s family income and it can vary between €156 and €2500 per year. If you don’t present the documents needed to prove your income, a fixed fee is applied based on your country of origin approximating between €1600 and €2500.
You can also get a merit-based scholarship according to your exam result average and your income. You need to apply for it through the regional agency ESU. Watch out for the deadline in late July/ early August to submit your documents!
The university also provides daily food service for its students – the canteen (otherwise known as “mensa”). A large three-course meal costs €3, which is an awesome deal. The mensa is a lifesaver when you need to spend the entire day between lectures and the hospital, as you don’t need to worry about what you’re gonna have for lunch or prepare food beforehand.
In case you’d like an apartment of your own or one you can share with friends, you can look some Facebook groups up like this or this one, or find an apartment through an agency.
The prices for a single room are standard for a North Italian middle-size city:
- 250-350 for a single room
- 400-500 for a “monolocale” (a studio flat)
- 600-650 for a two-room apartment
Some suggestions for areas you might find convenient to live in are:
“Portello” area – a popular medical students’ choice due to its immediate vicinity to the campus and lecture halls
“Santa Rita” neighborhood – 15-20 min walk from the campus and the main hospital
The city center – also a short 15 min walk to campus
You can opt-out for a “Collegio” – the university dorms or for a private room or apartment.
In order to apply for the dorms, again you need to apply through ESU.
Located in the region of Veneto, right in the middle between Venice and Guarda Land (the Italian version of Disney Land) -undoubtfully two equally important places to visit!
You’ll find one of the most beautiful Italian city centers in Padova, with a river running right through the middle of it, surrounding a vibrant park – a commonplace for students to hang out. And even if a rather small town (with around 215 000 inhabitants), you’ll find plenty to do in your free time. There are a couple of swimming pools, a cinema (although as in most Italian cinemas, movies are dubbed), a water park and even an escape room.
A specific thing about Padova is that the cocktail Aperol Spritz originated from Veneto Region. Living in the Spritz capital means almost every time you’d hang out with people, you would have this drink.
** A special tip we got from Saara, our 1st-year student in Padova: knowing even just a bit of Italian before arriving in Italy goes a long way. And we can’t agree more! That’s right, the course is in English and you probably won’t interact with many patients until the 3rd year. But a little secret which of course holds valid not only for Padova but for Italy in general is that Italians are not known for their good English. Some of them sincerely don’t know English and some of them secretly do. In both cases though, as any foreigner in Italy will tell you, they just don’t like speaking it. Knowing the very basics will come incredibly handy when looking for accommodation, opening bank accounts, and so on.
(c) Featured images, thanks to Saara’s personal archive
Elena Mitsulova (Pavia)
I am a 5th-year student in the Harvey course of Pavia. During my Italian journey and all these years spent in Pavia, I've gathered a valuable experience that I am happy to share with you.
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