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Journals from James Cook University, Australia

2013-06-11 3/16 - Uni vs. College

March 16, 2013

Uni vs. College

So we just finished our third week of classes here at JCU Cairns. And let me tell you, the education system here is different than any other I’ve ever been a part of. It’s hard for me to believe I’m actually going to school here – that’s how different it is! First of all, what we call college, they refer to it as “uni” or “university”, and to them college is somewhere you are living while attending uni. So that was confusing for a while. Anyways, at Linfield, it’s normal for anyone taking a regular credit load to have class five days a week, from about 9-3, unless you are really good at scheduling classes! JCU sets up their lectures differently than any school I’ve heard about in the states. Rather than having 2-3 lectures a week every other day, they clump all of your lectures into a 2-3 hour block on one day of the week. And let me say, this time is just for lectures. Anything else that you might do, whether it is quizzes, handouts, small assignments, discussion, etc., are all done in the tutorial, another 1 hour session you attend once a week. On top of that, some classes have computer workshops, lectorials, field trips, etc. Trying to schedule all of these individual things was tough when it came to getting your timetable squared away (figuring out your timetable is like picking your classes, only 50x worse and 100x more stressful). Anyways – the normal/maximum credit load you can take here is 12 credits (4 classes). So with four classes, I ended up with a schedule in which I only have class two days a week, for about 4 hours each day! One of my classes is essentially online and only one of my classes has a true tutorial. I managed to get lucky with a schedule that allows me a lot of free time to continue exploring my surroundings and enjoy the lovely Northern Queensland beaches and rainforest!

The lecture set up isn’t the only difference in the education system here. It is very difficult to get in touch with your lecturers outside of your lecture if you need help. And the personal relationship you can develop with a professor at Linfield? That doesn’t happen here, at least not with the lecturers I have, even though this school only has approximately 3,000 students. Another difference is how laid back their education system is. At home, is seems as though going to uni and getting a higher education isn’t really an option anymore, but rather mandatory if you want a decent job. Here in Cairns, going to uni isn’t necessarily for everyone. Many people simply don’t get a higher education and many of the ones who do don’t start uni right after high school but rather in their 30’s or later.  

While it has been interesting going to school at a different university, and in a different country, this education system makes me appreciate my home institution so much more! I can’t wait to take classes back at good ole’ Linny and feel comfortable again!

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