Why I Regret Taking Masters at Università Cattolica

I have never thought that I would come to this conclusion, but I can’t deny it anymore.

I regret enrolling to the International Screenwriting and Production program at Università Cattolica. My first reason is the disappointing staff (click here to read more) and another point is the already underwhelming program that seems to be not well-prepared.

This is how everything started.

For the international students, the class started on September 24th. For two weeks, we were shown popular Italian movies and TV series to help us familiarize ourselves with the whole Italian cinema industry. Although was boring and seemed a bit unnecessary, as an international student, I appreciated this additional information on Italian cinema.

Then the next week went by and it was October 9th, the first day of class when the program director — let’s call him Mister X, who FINALLY gave us the entire schedule of the program. I have been asking for the schedule of the program, but the staff said that they needed more time to confirm the date of some lecturers. During the 3-hour introduction class, Mister X told us that they have only the fixed schedule for us until December, while the lecturers might vary starting from January. I personally wasn’t too happy with the fact that they couldn’t even give me a fixed schedule for a full year, but it was nothing too upsetting.

The next thing he told us was about the exam, which wasn’t even written on the university website when I applied. Even though I was discouraged to find out about the exam that way, I was relieved when I found out that we only need to study three theoretical books about writing and analyze three scripts along with it.

The next day, we had our first lecturer, John Truby, a screenwriter and teacher from L.A who really taught us a lot about the world of screenwriting during the 6 hours that we spent in class. Then the week after came Bobette Buster, a script consultant from L.A. Her method of teaching was different from Truby, but nonetheless, was still easy to follow and very insightful.

“So far, so good,” I thought.

I was wrong.

Dead wrong.

There it was. October 23rd, the day when everything started going downhill. A lecturer — let’s call him Mister Italy, who was an alumnus from the university itself and there to teach us for the week. Let’s just say that, although Mister Italy was a very sweet and kind man, his English wasn’t the absolute best and he was all over the place with the lecture. It was very difficult to follow his lectures and I was very displeased, to say the least, especially after having two great speakers come in the beginning.

After the awful week with Mister Italy, I was hoping that the things would get better the next week, but it got worse. Our new speaker was Mister Etymology, a guy who ADORED word origins and talked about it the whole day. I was very upset that I had to waste 6 hours, trying to be a good writer, while listening to a grown man praising about how words are so philosophical. He was another confusing speaker who didn’t speak English all too well and was all over the place.

The next day, instead of going to class, to start reading for the exam since I was behind on the books and the uselessness of Mister Etymology’s lecture.

But, surprise, surprise.

I got an email from the university containing the list of things we have to study for the exam.

As you can see, the list is longer than what Mr X mentioned on October 9th, and a result, of course, my easily-anxious-self cried. I couldn’t understand how this list wasn’t sent to us in September or after the introductory class on October 9th. It was simply the staff’s fault for being disorganized that caused us the burden and stress of having to study EVERYTHING for January.

Not only that, the Anna Karenina miniseries that we have to watch is in Italian and there are no English subtitles available online, which means the international students are definitely fucked.

Although a few days afterwards were pretty grim, as my insomnia came back because of my stress and anxiety, I was still hoping for the coming week to become better as we have new speakers coming on November 7th. Mr T was supposed to give us a lecture in the morning, but to my surprise, there he was in front of the class, Mister Etymology.

I thought to myself, “What on the earth of fuck?”

There was no email or any announcement of the sort. Again, disorganization or simply lack of care in giving the full information.

Since the program didn’t seem to improve, a few students and I finally decided to talk to Mr X, the program director, about the concerns we have, including the disorganization and how impractical the course seems to be.

Yesterday, November 8th, the eight of us told him our concerns.

We just think some of the speakers are all over the place and so, it becomes very hard to follow them.
We also don’t understand how we only get the list for the exam very late, when the whole list could have been mentioned — but wasn’t, during the introduction class, especially since the Christmas holiday is coming and we still have a screenplay and a treatment to write.
We don’t understand why the course doesn’t give us more practical classes when we can practice writing and get more feedback from the professors and our peers.

To the first problem, he said to just exchange notes between ourselves, which doesn’t even solve the problem because our 9000 euro in total should be used towards inviting native English speakers (or at least Italians who are fluent in speaking English) who are also good writers and teachers. He also thinks that we have enough time to read about 3000+ pages in total worth of books, scripts, a season of Downton Abbey to watch and analyze, together with an Italian adaptation of Anna Karenina. For our last concern that he could distinct, he said to trust him because he has 20 years of experience and that no one has ever complained.

To his last remarks about having no one ever complained before, I’m gonna call bullshit. Why? A friend of mine connected with another alumnus from the US, who actually tried to compel him to not study at Cattolica and told him that the degree doesn’t mean much outside of Italy. Not only that, he only gathered a few unfinished projects as a result of the masters, which isn’t useful to write on his resume.

After Mr X totally shat all over us yesterday — although not literally, he definitely lost all of my respect. This is because I also found out that during our orientation day, there was a screenwriting conference on campus that the international students didn’t know about. In fact, he paid for three students (200 euros each) so they can attend this conference.

As this program seems to be very disorganized and unfair, especially towards the international students, I am considering if it’s worth to pay another 6000 euro for this education. Especially because I have not only paid for the first instalment, but for the visa, plane ticket, and a bunch of other documents I initially needed to get and stay here. I took out about 8000 euro from my own bank account in order to be here.

The choice to just bail seems to be worth the money, but I need to go through the same excruciating process if I enrol in another program. Either that or I can try to find another paying job that I might not even get at home. However, if I choose to stay and spend more money, I’m afraid there are no future career prospects for me and I’ll just become a poor jobless girl with a masters degree because they will not help the international students to get other internships outside of Italy since I don’t speak Italian. Moreover, I can’t even learn Italian because I am too busy studying for the exam and working on other projects.

So, should I stay or should I go?

Both choices seem to be shitty.