The past two months spent at Otago has been simply incredible. Other than going on adventures every weekend, I have also been thoroughly enjoying my papers (papers are what they call courses here). My courses include Māori society, Pacific Societies, Plants: How They Shape the World, and Understanding Environmental Issues.
My favorite paper so far has been Pacific Societies. The class focuses on how different societies in the Pacific Ocean arrived at each island, why they decided to migrate, and overall the history and culture of specific countries. Most papers have a lecture and a tutorial or lab you also have to attend. One of my favorite things about the classes here is that most of the lectures are recorded and posted on blackboard. In this way, if you miss a class or are gone for a trip, you are still able to watch the lecture. This has become especially useful for my science course since many of the lecturers go through the slides faster than I can take notes. The other interesting thing about papers here is that all of them have more than one lecturer. Lecturers will usually only teach one or two topics and then switch to another professor when the topic changes.
About two weeks before our mid-semester break, we had midterms. Overall, I had three tests and one essay to write. All of the information about your test and essay is included in the course outline you receive on the first day. Tutorials, which are usually required, go over everything that will be on the test. Even some of the practice questions that we answered in tutorials were on the tests. Most exams here are taken outside of class time and are organized by last name or tutorial time. Unlike Linfield, scantrons and all test material are provided by the class. The other interesting thing about school here is that there are minimal assignments throughout the school year. Other than my science course that has a lab due each week, the remaining classes only grade by participation in tutorials, and the required essays, and exams. Though the workload is a lot less substantial, it causes the big assignments to be worth more. Depending on how well you are at writing essays or taking tests, this factor could either work for or against you.
The huge class size here at Otago has made me appreciate the small classes at Linfield. So far, I have not even spoken to any of my professors since TA’s are the instructors for tutorials and labs. Even with this, I still feel that I am learning just as much as I would at Linfield.
Overall, it has been easy getting used to classes here at Otago and I’m thankful that I get to experience a different university. I’ve really enjoyed taking more cultural classes here and I’m looking forward to learning more in the last few months.