I have blogged quite a bit about traveling/exploring/having-fun-in-general in New Zealand. It should be noted that I have actually been studying and taking classes the whole time, though you wouldn’t know it from what I post.
I have really loved taking classes here, primarily because of the independence you are given as a student – back home internal assessments (assignments, essays, projects) make up the majority of your grade, with maybe 20% of your grade riding on your final exam. It’s totally different in New Zealand, as there are far fewer assignments, and your exam becomes paramount for your grade. The lowest percentage an exam was worth for any of my class was 40%, the highest 60%. It’s fairly common for Law students to have their grade for the class 100% based off of their exam performance. Is this approach stressful as exam weeks come up? Sure it is! But if you attend lectures and tutorials, read everything you were supposed to, and genuinely work hard, it will all be easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy!
Of course, all good things must come to an end, and exams are well underway. An interesting difference between how exams run in the states and how they operate here – back home, you typically take your exams in the same room your class was in, with your teacher present and monitoring the room. No big deal.
Here, things are on lockdown. First off, your exams will likely be in a building you have never even heard of. The school is aware of this, and has made a map to help guide your lost soul to the correct interrogation room. Once you finally find the right building and room, you present photo ID to the centurions- I meant, proctors – are given a specific seat number for a specific row in the room, fill out a form in duplicate saying that you won’t cheat, disclose information from the actual test, rip tags off of mattresses, etc., and verify that you are indeed who you claim to be by listing (several times) all first name aliases you have used while studying with the university (seriously). No one is allowed to exit the room within the first hour or the last 15 minutes of an exam, because they are afraid that people could congregate, and disclose answers and other information if there were a big rush to the door, which is understandable for multiple-choice tests, but a little frustrating for history exams (which are my only exams), because even if you were able to talk to someone on the way to the door, you would never have enough time to revise the essay which you must write in pen. If someone ever successfully cheated on an exam at the University of Otago, they deserve a medal and are probably named James Bond.
Dramatization of real life intimidation.
Fortunately, the exams are spaced out over several weeks. Unfortunately, all of mine are clumped together at the end. This was a wonderful thing at first because it gave me a chance to travel a bit more, relax, study, and relax more for two weeks. However, now that they are all here, I am plagued by studying as well as the stress/sadness of packing, and saying goodbye to everyone. Wish me luck!