Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

STUDY Abroad

I know it’s been awhile since my last post! Unfortunately, I was bogged down by my first real week of work. That’s not to say that my course schedule isn’t hard, but classes are done somewhat differently, here.

First off, classes are called “papers.” Let’s use that word in a sentence: “I’m taking four papers during my semester at Otago: ‘Gender and the Media,’ ‘Crime, Deviance, and Social Transformation,’ ‘Musical Theater Voice,’ and ‘Sensation and Perception.’” I’m lucky because I get to take papers in a multitude of areas. That’s another thing—unlike at my school in the US, students here choose a major (or more than one), and mainly take classes in those areas. For instance, one of my Kiwi Hosts is a neuroscience major and she is taking all science-heavy papers.

Another major difference is the number of assessments. Back at Wesleyan (my home school), I have homework due every week in my science classes. The homework assignments may be problem sets or moodle posts online but there is always something. There are also more tests, meaning grades are split up among more pieces of work (which makes it easier to get a decent grade if you don’t do well on one of them). At Otago, I have no problem sets, no online posts to make, and only three or so assignments per class. Because of this, I must work harder to do well on all of my assignments.

The last major difference works in my favor: the grading scale is skewed. At Wesleyan, a 90 is a B+, an 80 is a C+, and anything below a 61.7 is failing. At Otago, a 90 is an A, an 80 is a B, and anything 50 or above is passing. While this difference makes assessments somewhat less daunting, it’s not quite as simple as “school is easier here.” The grading scale makes it easier for a good student to get a better grade, but it’s also harder to score the top marks that we Americans may be used to getting. I studied much harder for my 300-level (highest level undergrad) Psych course for my major than I normally do in order to feel prepared for my exam. Luckily, I feel like I did decently well on the exam, and now I can relax for a couple months until the next one!!

Wish me (and the rest of the student body) luck on the rest of midterms!!



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