One thing people do not realize when it comes to doing a semester overseas, is the significance the classroom experience can create. This has surprisingly made a positive impact on my semester so far. Walking through campus, studying at the library, and being surrounded by Kiwi’s in my classes has really made me feel like I am a student at the University of Otago.
I am currently enrolled in four classes (or papers as they call it in New Zealand). I am taking Introduction to Communication Studies, Effective Communication, Introduction to Hospitality, and Sociology of New Zealand society.
Prior to my arrival, I didn’t have any huge expectations of what being a student would be like in New Zealand. As I started to learn more about the University, I knew that I would have an easier transition than others, since the campus size is smaller than Indiana University. As I am two months into the semester, I have had an interesting experience observing and learning how the New Zealand culture educates its students.
To start, I was unaware of how much influence the United States had on other countries. In all four of my classes, the United States is brought up constantly for a variety reasons. It has been eye-opening to witness my country being described as powerful and influential.
Another main difference I have noticed is the workload in many of my courses is more manageable. I believe this goes along with a common theme I have noticed about the United States: American students are put under an unnecessary amount of pressure.
In general, the education and schooling in New Zealand is more relaxed; however, it seems to be working. The material I am learning is still taught in a professional manner yet the stress level amongst students is lowered. There are fewer assignments in my classes, giving students more time to give their best effort. I also have had teachers cancel classes to give us a break for the week.
I am not learning any less information here as I am at home, with this relaxed system. I have come to learn that in the United States the schooling is simply too intense. The pressure to find a job, be professional, and have a plan immediately after graduation is so deeply imprinted into minds, that our schooling is more intense than others.
I would normally conclude this blog with something hopeful about trying to bring this system to the United States, but I realize it is impossible. The culture in America is the way it is. It is not necessarily a bad thing to raise students this way and have them ready for the real world early. I do believe the education system in the United States is too intense, but I am starting to realize many things in America are this way.
Comparing and contrasting my two countries have helped me become more aware of traditions and routines in the United States, that I had not noticed before.