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Journals from University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

2014-03-21 The Studying Part of Being Abroad

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Sunset from floor 11 of the central library

Some people have been asking me about how my classes are going. To tell you the truth, I’m not doing a whole lot of studying during my “Study” abroad trip, at least not like I am used to. I have four 100 level classes (“papers” as the Kiwis call them), a sharp contrast from four 400-level science classes last semester. I am not taking a single science class, so I don’t have any labs. For each class there are two hours of lecture and one hour of tutorial, which is a discussion group. I have three hours of class on my longest day, and no classes on Wednesdays. The lectures all have somewhere around 150 people in them, and the discussion groups have about 25--still a large class by Linfield standards. It is weird not having my professors know who I am, or even know my name. Actually not all of my “professors” are actually professors. A teacher gets to be a “professor” when they have their PhD, and even then they are only Assistant Professors unless they are department heads. Everyone else is just considered to be a lecturer. Classes are less interactive than at Linfield. The lecturer rarely asks questions of the class, and if they do, no one ever answers.

My classes are all easy, but I have no prior knowledge of the subjects so they are interesting, for the most part. I’m taking History of New Zealand, to learn more about the country and to get another history class finished for my History minor, Philosophy of Science, which can be a bit dry, but I’m using it to get my UQ, Maori Health Care, and Christchurch 101, which is a service learning course centered on the rebuilding from the earthquakes a few years ago. Christchurch 101 is mostly international students, so mostly Americans. My other three classes might have three or four Americans in them. Occasionally the lecturers rattle on about something that is well known for the Kiwis, but we have to stop and ask for clarification because we have no idea what they are talking about.

It only took me a month of class to walk on the right side of sidewalks and hallways, the right side being the left. I have also figured out some shortcuts on campus. If you cut through the Geology building, you don’t have to walk around the 11-story library on your way from the Arts Lecture Theatres to the E block lecture theatres. Pretty much anything on campus is at least a 10-minute walk, to fit in the 10-minute spaces between back-to-back lectures.

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