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Journals from Bø, Norway

2011-05-31 Finals

Final exams… whew! What a different experience finals have been here in Norway. Unlike Linfield, final exams are scheduled throughout the entire month of May to give students enough time to study. This meant that I had a LOT of down time between finals as I only had one actual sit-down exam. (The others were final papers.) The education system here is very different from in the US. I think that if students are of the right mindset it can be very effective, but for some students it just means that they can still get a bachelor’s degree without putting much effort into it. One of the biggest shocks that my fellow international students and I had was the fact that most classes don’t assign regular homework, and if they do it doesn’t count for credit (but you still have to do it or you’re not eligible to take the final exam). We assumed that this meant the professors were going to be easier graders since they hadn’t been forcing us to maintain a solid workload. That assumption was way off base. While the professors don’t expect students to complete regular written assignments, they do expect that students are studying on their own time (no surprise there) and that students are actively looking for ways to apply the lessons that they are learning. But while the grading system is fairly similar (the only exception being an “E” added to the mix) the mindset that goes along with the grades is very different. In the US, a “C” is considered to be average. A lot of students would be very dissatisfied with a “C”, though, even though it is considered the most earned grade according to a bell curve distribution. In Norway, though, students who get C’s are perfectly happy with their grades because it means that they did well enough and can continue on towards getting their degree. I think that part of this mentality stems from the fact that education is free in Norway and so students take it for granted a little more. Plus the fact that even jobs that would be considered low-end, minimum wage jobs in the US pay Norwegians enough to live a decent life. So while some jobs pay better, it is still possible for Norwegians to obtain a well-enough paying job without ever having obtained a bachelor’s degree. It’s an interesting contrast to the US, and I don’t think that either system is necessarily better, they’re just different. Hadet bra! Sharon

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