Monday, 14 September 2015

Initial Comparisons [PART 1]

It's Monday afternoon of my 3rd week here at Northern Arizona University (NAU) and for those of you from England - Fresher's Flu has arrived! (not that they know what that is here). So... Fresher's Flu in England, Freshman 15 in America - what else is different? What's weird and what's wonderful? Well, here are my initial observations:

PHO 100: Assignment 1. Photograph 10 words. Word 1: Sickness

1. Classes, Professors and Homework

Yep, so here your 'Lecturer' is your 'Professor', your 'Lecture or Seminar' is your 'Class' and unlike in England where there are 3-5 'Assignments' per 'Module' (per year), here you get 'Homework' every week. While I have not found this homework to be difficult as such, it is extremely time consuming. For example, right now, I am sat in my apartment with my 2 roommates and every surface visible is ... well not visible.. its covered in homework! And yes, we have already been sat here, like this for about 2 hours. And yes, we are likely to be sat here for the next 2 hours also!

My room hasn't looked this empty since the 24th August!

I obviously can only write from my own personal experience but in Chester, a module will last for one academic year. You probably didn't get to chose it, or if you did, it was from a choice of 3 or 4 similar topics. The module itself will probably be taught over 2 hours a week. One hour will be spent listening to your Lecturer explain the new topic via a PowerPoint. The second, more-often-than-not separate hour, will be spent in a seminar discussing the theory you learned in the previous lecture.

Here at NAU, classes typically last for one semester (of which there are 2: August to December or January to May) and you can choose from 100's of different ones. Now obviously, if you want to major/minor in something specific then you have to choose more precisely which classes you want to take. However, on top of those in which you are major or minoring in, you have to take several "cultural" classes in order to complete your degree. As of yet, I am unsure as to what these consist of, but I do know that my class GER 350W: Sustainable Environments in Germany (taught in German) would count as one of these, so that might give you a general idea of the kind of random stuff you'd have to study here! (For some people, that might actually be a down fall, but for me, this is amazing! I miss having the range of classes like we used to have in Secondary/High School all the time - why can't I learn about business techniques one day, and make a cupboard the next?)

Catering Course anyone?

On that note, the teaching style here is also very different. It is much more like a classroom back at school, here than it is in England. There are activity sheets, there are questions, there are pop quizzes etc. etc. etc. basically I find that the classes are far more engaging.

About as engaging as all-emoji conversations ;)

So in Chester, England, you are expected to learn a lot in your own time, in your own way, make your own notes on each topic and compile all of this information into 2-4 assignments over the whole year (plus an exam in January and/or at the end depending on your module choice). Thus often resulting in students doing absolutely nothing until about 2-3 weeks before the assignments/exams are due! While at NAU, USA, you are expected to spend several hours a week (if not a day) doing your homework. Obviously, each bit of your homework therefore counts for very little, but be warned as it adds up over the semester!

Get it done on time to enjoy days like this!

So I guess the biggest thing I've learned so far is how to time manage properly. Not on a monthly schedule like I have to in England but on a weekly one, if not daily!

While some of what I have just said may make Chester's education system seem negative, I do think that this way of teaching does result in more "mature" students. We have to think a little more for ourselves.. Am I going to bother reading that book now? Am I going to leave it all to the last minute? Am I going to be good with my work and do a little every week? Oh whoops it's due next week and I haven't even started!

On the other hand, the system here for me at least feels a little more realistic as far as work load and work life goes. When we all finish our degrees and we all get "proper" jobs (whatever that means) - I'm pretty sure most of us will have daily/weekly schedules of things to do, rather than monthly ones..

Yep, the local bus drives down Route 66 everyday!

Anyway, in an attempt not to make my blog posts too long, (and so that I can get back to my homework) I'll write about the other comparisons some other time,

Lots of love,

Lucy xxo

Just incase you were worried that I haven't made any friends yet...

P.s. my keyboardismessing up and wwriting llike tthis and not letting me put sspaces every so often and ssometimes it won't let mme use the , and other times it wwrites all of mmy words with double bbeginning letters???? - anyone good with computers and want to come help me? haha

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