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University Papers

This week has been pretty slow for adventures but I am now almost 2 weeks into classes here at Uni.  Courses here (or papers as the kiwis say) are much different than back in the States.  Firstly, most classes have multiple lecturers:  every time a new topic is introduced in a class, the lecturer changes.  So far I am still on the first topic in each course but it will be interesting when we move on to new material and a new professor.  Since I am an engineering student, my class sizes don’t differ much from back home with only about 30-40 students in each class.  Another big difference is the class schedules.  Back home my classes followed a schedule that occurred at the same time every day:  Monday-Wednesday-Friday at 10 for example.  However here the classes switch times and locations each time:  once course I have meets Mondays at 10, Tuesdays at 1, and Thursdays at 11 each in a different place.  It’s a lot more difficult here to memorize where and when I should be in class!  I also have 2 classes on Wednesdays that meet at the same time.  This is a little annoying as I am forced to miss one of the lectures but all the notes are online along with the occasional audio file from the lecture.

The biggest difference by far though is the workload for courses.  There is no homework here, only the occasional assignment (I’ve had 1 assignment so far).  Almost the entire grade for a course is based on a small handful of exams, usually about 2.  This is really hard to get used to as I usually have hours of homework each night back in the States.  This also has left me wondering how to prepare for exams, as I use homework in the States to make sure I understand the material.  Here a lot more responsibility is placed on the student to make sure they review lecture notes and understand the material.  They also have tutorials to work through some example problems with students.

Overall it’s a really cool experience to see how different courses are in a new country and I think before long it will all seem normal.  I’ve also found myself itching to get through the week and finish classes so I can head out to the mountains with some friends and get some tramping in!  It’s really great how easy it is to reach the outdoors even while living in a city.  But for now I guess I’ll have to stick out the last 2 days of class here and make sure I’m caught up on lectures for the week!

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2 Responses to “University Papers”

  1. Kim Says:

    Hey! My name is Kim and I’ll be a senior at Bucknell in the Fall, and I just got home from a semester in Dunedin through Butler! I came across this entry on facebook and I know I felt the same way with classes and the difference in assignment load. At Otago, the library webpage posts blank versions of previous final exams for all papers, which helped me a lot because they tend to use the same format and even the same topics/questions. Maybe they do this at Canterbury as well? Obviously you just started the semester, but finals are worth so much it’s worth knowing at least!

  2. Keith Keith Says:

    Hey Kim, thanks for the comment and the advice! I will definitely be checking out the library here to see if they do have copies of old exams, they really would be useful this semester. I can see how that could relieve a little bit of the stress that comes with a final worth over half the grade in a course. Thanks again!

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