School and the Stomach Flu:Week 5
It’s been five weeks in Australia and I am just starting classes. So far they’re how you would expect them to be. Lectures, homework, the impending doom that is mid-semester tests. The usual. Well, mostly.
However, the class structure I will say is different enough to cause major confusion. Back home, we have lectures and labs (in the science classes). Here there are four types of meeting times. Lectures, which are the traditional professor talks, you write sort of deal. Tutorials which break down the extremely large lecture classes into smaller groups. Here they talk mostly about assignments and take you through worksheets or examples that illustrate what is going on in class. Best part about lectures and tutorials: they’re recorded. And “while the recordings are no substitute for actual attendance,” the recordings are perfect in case you miss a class for illness, or if it’s at nine a.m. Next are the workshops. These are even smaller groups which are more discussion based and student driven. Finally, there are practicals which are mostly like labs in American universities. You go in, complete an assignment that is supposed to teach you a real world or at least semi-practical application of lecture material. The workshops and practicals are not recorded… unfortunately. Now, most classes will have two, maybe three of the types of meetings. Lucky me has one class with all four.
I am also doing research while I’m here. Honestly I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned that yet. But I am. For you science-y people like moi, I am looking at the neural crest cell development in mouse embryo hindguts and the chemical signals that alter or modulate their modalities. For all you non science-y people, it means long hours behind a microscope and a computer. It also means hours of modules for my lab induction. Fun, fun…
In addition to my first week of class and my introduction to my lab, I have also had my first bout of illness in a foreign country. Turns out, there are 24 hour stomach bugs in the southern hemisphere too. But I didn’t die mom, so don’t worry. Who would have guessed that in a country where the drinking age is 18 that a virus and not alcohol would make me get sick….
On a different note, there is a “rally” next week in the central business district of Melbourne supporting marriage equality. Personally, I want to go. My friends, no so much. It surprises me that on a university campus I can’t seem to find someone willing to go with me. For my fellow Americans and other exchange students, I can understand the lack of interest. While they’re here they want to relax and not take things so seriously. But for the Australians I’ve met… I guess I just expected more of an interest. At least in the States college campuses usually have a much more liberal population. Maybe it’s first week jitters. Or maybe, like in the States, people see marriage equality as something that is inevitable. Or even still, I’m living with a lot of first years and perhaps they just aren’t that interested.
Either way, I will find someone if I have to drag them with me.