Journals from Waikato-New Zealand Fall 09
2009-10-18 A Little Kiwi Experience
Sunday 26th July 2009
Kia ora e hoa! (Hello friends!) Another week has gone by, already. I cant even believe it. First off, I saw Harry Potter in New Zealand! It was so fun. We had to take a bus to the movie theatre. All the movie theatres here are in malls, at least the ones I have seen. They have their own floor of a section of the mall and you get in line to get food, and buy your tickets and then go upstairs to go into the particular theatre for your movie.
Classes in New Zealand arent all that different from those back in the States. The system is set up a little differently, though. First of all, we take papers, not classes, here, and each paper is worth a certain amount of points. Most are worth 15 points, and some are worth 5 or 10 points. Overall, most first-year and international students are allowed to take 60 points worth of papers and that can pretty much be divided up however you like as long as your classes dont conflict. When I first got to Waikato, they told us we had to get registered for our classes, which included working out our timetables (schedules), and make sure all our fees were paid for. We had to take the list of classes, which we had been approved for, to the office of the department, where the classes were housed. For me, I was approved for mostly Social Science classes, and had to go to the department and meet with the secretary there. She went through the computer and looked at my class options, showed me the timetable which would work, and then signed me up for classes. It was very different from our system online at home. Once my schedule was in place, I then had to go to another building to make sure my fees were paid and get my ID card. Then I was ready to go, and set to start classes the next Monday. It was a bit hectic, but it worked out just fine.
As far as difficulty goes, classes arent too bad. I am taking all 100-level classes, which is kind of cheating since I am technically a third-year student, or junior as we would say in the States, but it has made my experience in New Zealand that much better. For each lecture, we also have tutorials, or tuts as we call them. These are much smaller classes than the lecture and are either taught by the lecturer or by a grad student. For most of my lectures, there are over 100 students in the class, but my tuts are about 20 kids, or sometimes a little more. It helps a lot, because we go over things from the lecture and get our heads wrapped around the concepts. This is also a much more question-friendly environment for me because I like the smaller class size better, like at Linfield. For the most part, I have a mid-semester test, a couple of assignments and a final for all my classes. With each class it varies, though. Some classes dont have finals, just like at home, and some classes have way more projects than others. By the end of the semester, I will have taken four mid-semester tests, one for each class, written a paper for history, a paper for anthropology, done three projects for my Maori class, had an oral exam for my Maori class, and taken three finals. For a whole semester, that is not too bad. As far as exams go, I think they will be OK. Professors dont really give you study guides like we might get at home, but they make sure all the information is available to you to study.
We also took a trip to Auckland with the international programs office. And when I say we, I mean all the international kids. Auckland was absolutely beautiful. It reminded me a lot of Seattle. They have a tower called The Sky Tower, and it looks very similar to The Space Needle. Auckland is also right on the water, so there are piers and lots of ferries and such, just like in Seattle. We climbed up a hill called One Tree Hill. At the top there is some type of monument for some important someone, but no one ever really explained it to us. I was just excited because of the television show back in the States. We also got to walk around downtown for a little bit. I had the best Thai food ever! It was in a little restaurant that looked like a hole in the wall. It was tiny and almost run-down looking, but people were lined up to get the food. It wasnt dirty either, as we had originally thought. I was very impressed.
Speaking of food, the only food I have found that I miss here is Mexican food. It is the only thing you cant really get anything close to. I mean, they have nachos and burritos and such, but it is not the same. Corn dogs are awful here, too. It's like a pancake wrapped around a sausage; they dont have actual hot dogs here. Pizza is also a little different, but delicious. There is something like spaghetti noodles in the tomato sauce that goes on the pizza. Oh--and most of all, ketchup is non-existent. They have tomato sauce. It doesnt actually taste that different, but if you ask for ketchup, they wont have an answer for you. We also dont get very much milk in the cafeteria. It is partly because they export so much milk that the residents have to ration their milk (at least that is what they tell us), so we get it at breakfast and then whatever is left is usually served at dinner. But then again, our cafeteria only gets $10 NZD a day per student to feed us, which is like nothing! Lastly, Sprite is equal to lemonade. If you ask for lemonade you will get a Sprite. Lemonade doesnt exist either. I wasnt expecting so many differences in food, but none of differences are awful. I have really enjoyed trying all the different things. I tried a candy bar with Hokey Pokey in the middle. It was delicious. And there is really no way to explain Hokey Pokey other than its name. If I could I would try, but it just seems impossible.