Journals from New Zealand (University of Waikato)
2010-08-10 A Different School Experience
Weve been in school for about a month now, and so I finally got to see what its like taking tests and turning in assignments here at the uni. Its A LOT different than Linfield. First of all, Waikato University is a much bigger school than Linfield. There are 16,000 students and each class averages about 70-400 students, depending on the course. The professors dont have time to get to know all their students nor do they have time to grade a ton of assignments, so the overall grade depends on a couple essay assignments, one mid-semester exam, and the final exam. All the classes are run in the form of lectures mostly with the assistance of a powerpoint.
Luckily, each class is accompanied by a tutorial. Were required to enroll in a tutorial for each class we take. There is a maximum of 25 students in each tutorial and during this time, a grad. student leads a discussion on the past weeks lectures and answers any questions we may have. Its really helpful having these, and it also allows us to build a personal connection with someone who is very knowledgeable regarding the information were learning.
I just had my first test in my Anthropology course. I would imagine that the experience I had would be similar to one that I would have had in a large university back home in the states, but I had never taken a test like this at Linfield. We all entered the classroom and had to put our backpacks/bags in the front of the classroom and were only allowed a pencil at our seats. We couldnt be sitting right next to anyone. The professor handed out our tests facing upside down, and when he started the timer, we turned our exam over and began. When the time was up, we all stopped writing and handed in our test. It was very structured and made me a bit nervous! There was always someone walking around making sure we werent cheating or anything. I felt pretty uncomfortable, but I guess new experiences always make you feel uncomfortable to a certain extent.
The grading scale here in New Zealand is a lot different than in the States. An A is normally anything above 85%. Sometimes, its even lower than that. Im not too sure why that is, but I did notice that the emphasis on education is not as intense. A lot of my kiwi friends skip classes quite often and procrastinate quite a bit on homework assignments, but thats just how this culture is. Theyre all very passionate about what they want to pursue in life. All the people Ive talked to know exactly what they want to do and why they want to do it. So many people back in the States dont even know what they want to do with their life; theyre just going to school until they figure it out. Its the opposite here- people come to uni with the intention of pursuing a certain degree. People of all ages attend the uni. In my classes, its very common to find at least 15 or 20 people above the age of 40. They finally know what they want to do and no one judges them because its completely normal!