Founded in 1864, Bucharest University is the second oldest (after the University of Medicine “Carol Davila”, founded in 1855.) and most important state-university in the Romanian capital. Although in Romania there is a never-ending debate whether Bucharest University`s learning curriculum is modern and up-to-date or the other way round, this time we tried to investigate a totally different aspect: the influence the learning environment has upon students` academic performance.
The chemistry department is best described by the word 'classical.' It is quite sober, elegant and looks timeless. The dominant chromatic combination is warm white with quiet black, but the classrooms` furniture, the windows` frames or the stair’s balustrade often display different tons of brown. The long, quite narrowed halls (traditional feature) are balanced by the presence of larger spaces like the main entrance hall or the large staircase that leads us to the upper floors. 'I've never really paid attention to the department's interior design,' confesses Dana Ardeleanu, a first-year chemistry student. 'It’s not really eyecatching. It just looks the way a place dedicated to education should: calm and discreet.'
But second-year student Mircea Andrei has a different opinion. 'It’s too classical! It looks rather cold and impersonal. But maybe this is because I don't like any of the courses here either.' Mircea is convinced that a more dynamic environment could stimulate him to study more. 'Look at this building - how can we feel this place is ours? How can I learn, write, pass exams in a place that I feel I don’t belong to? '
Meanwhile, the bright-coloured graffiti on the walls of the journalism and communication sciences have been created by the proud students themselves. These are actually journalism-related inscriptions, but only a graffiti expertcould notice it. 'Graffiti is a fresh and original art form which really represents our generation,' exclaims Andreea P. 'I love the light and the chromatic combination on these walls,' adds Alex C. 'But it’s not important if it’s painting, writing, caricature or graffiti - it just has to be something which looks 'young' to make us feel good.'
Do students get better grades if they feel their department is 'cool'? 'I think so, I have very good grades. I don’t feel uncomfortable at the thought of studying here,' says Andreea. ' I always study here because I don’t have time to study at home!' laughs Alex. 'I have a job and in comparison with my workplace, this place is a lot friendlier.'
Journalism students believe all European students should be given the chance to re-decorate their department. 'This would be the beginning of a more democratic education system,' says Alexandra D. 'It is not clear whether a more 'youth-friendly' learning environment would really make us get better grades, but it would certainly make us feel more confident and optimistic.' There is no future where is there is no desire to innovate!' concludes Alexandra