Thursday, August 30, 2007

Learning in a Foreign Land

I have now finished the first week of classes here at Harlaxton (only four days per week!), and I feel like I can make some observations.

First, my course load. I am taking the required six-credit British Studies course, which involves a considerable amount of reading (as in, I read every free moment I have, and I'm still behind) and a paper. I am one of only a handful of students here brave enough to take it as a 300- instead of 200-level course. What's the difference? We have to read an additional 800 page "Biography of London" by mid-October and produce an extra 3,000 word paper. On top of that I'm taking "Intro to Marketing" and "Intro to Environmental Studies," both with professors from the University of Evansville.

First - I have to say that there is a noticeable different between most of the students here (just became sophomores) and the three of us that are a bit older. I am the third-oldest student here, with the vast majority being two years younger than me. I guess it just makes me aware of how much you learn on your way to senior year...

Second - I am very grateful for the professors, classes, and lessons I've received at Eau Claire. With so many different learning institutions represented here, it's only natural to compare the preparedness of different groups of students, and ask questions about different teaching/learning styles and mentalities. All in all, I just have to say that I think Eau Claire has prepared me well - I know how to learn on my own, I can adapt to different lecture styles, I'm not afraid of a little reading or a little work, and I most definitely know how to think (as opposed to just memorizing and then spewing things back out). I won't comment on other Universities... I'll just say that this is what I think of Eau Claire :)

Third - British schooling is a bit different from what I'm used to. We all have a group lecture - all 180 students fill a long, narrow hall and listen to an hour-long lecture - and then another hour-long "seminar" section, where we break up into small groups for discussion and further instruction. That seminar session is more like what I'm used to - the Professor talking about the material, asking us questions, interacting with the class, etc. But the lecture is a bit different - I think what happened was the entire British Studies staff here (three or four British professors) worked to create a book, broken up into hour-long chapters, that they take turns reading verbatim for lecture. There's nothing wrong with it - in fact, I love it! It sounds like a position paper, or presentation of some sort - there are paragraphs that build on each other, and arguments, and advanced logic - it sounds so smart and academic, it's crazy! It literally sounds like an author presenting his/her latest work! It's not better or worse than anything else I've experienced, just different. It leads well into my "Academic Sabbatical" rant, which I will probably touch on in an upcoming post.

And fourth (sorry speech people... four points): they use different sized paper. A4. It's only actually about a half-inch longer than the paper we use, but it's a noticeable difference! Oh those crazy Brits...

I think that is how I will end every post from now on, if I can...

Oh those crazy Brits...

(P.S. My first trip begins tomorrow - London for the weekend! Won't bring my laptop - which will be hard for me - so I'll have more info on Monday!)

2 comments:

TK said...

I don't think its just those crazy Brits who use A4 (and for that matter, A3, A2 or even A1 or A5) - it must be the crazy Euro Union.

Christine Zani said...

Details Details! :-p Leave it to you to point that little slip out!