March 8, 2015

Uni Update

Kia ora! 

My first week of Uni is done! This week went by so fast, but strangely I feel like I didn't accomplish anything. Granted it was only week one, syllabus week, but I also think I wasn't expecting so little structure from the kiwi way of Uni. I knew coming in that assignments would be more spaced out and that I'd be expected to, more or less, guide my own learning (with complementing lectures) in order to complete those assignments...but I wasn't expecting absolutely NO homework. Classes (kiwis call them “papers”) are much more laid back here that at Franklin & Marshall College where I go in the US. At F&M not only do we get future assignments on the first day of class, but we also get homework/readings each class for the subsequent class. Textbooks are never optional, or "recommended", as they are HAVE to have them. There is also a ton more class time, in general, at F&M than at Uni. Overall, I’ve sensed a more sponge-like “we’re here to learn and happy to do our best” vibe from other students, rather than the “I have to accomplish as much as possible to get a good job and be the best at life” vibe which I usually get at F&M. That could also be due to the cultural difference, as I've sense that kiwis are generally more laid back than people from the US. 

At F&M, classes meet either for 50 minutes 3x a week or for 90 minutes 2x a week (plus, for me, 4+ hours in lab and music rehearsal time). Here I'm not taking any labs and I have no music rehearsals to attend. To give you an idea of how much free time I have compared to what I’m used to, my weekly course load here is ~9.5 hours of lecture, no rehearsal, and lets say an average of 8 hours of studying weekly (2 hours/class)…so 15.5 hours of "school". At F&M last semester I was taking 4 classes (~9 hours class time, ~8 hours studying weekly), 1 lab (4 hours/week), had a job as a teacher’s assistant (4 hours/week), had 3-6 hours of rehearsal per week, and spent at least an hour a day practicing on my own (7 hours)…I was spending almost 40 hours a week in "school". College was basically a full time job. It's so, so weird to have so much extra time.

 Having that much free time last week actually made me anxious; all week I felt like I should be doing homework or readings or SOMETHING. Since I don’t have access to a piano and I didn’t bring an oboe with me, I decided to buy myself a portable instrument (so I can bring it home on the plane) that is fit for a student budget…a baritone ukulele! Hurray!! It was too weird not having an instrument to practice everyday for the first time since probably middle school, so clearly I had to solve that problem. I actually spent all day shopping around at music stores and, like a nerd, mooched off the display pianos in all the stores to play some tunes since I knew I couldn’t back at Uni.

Something I found surprising, too, was that students can actually enrol in classes that have a time clash. It is up to the student to makeup any missed work, swap weeks (go to one class one week, skip that one the next week, etc…), and do what they need to in order to keep up. I’m not sure how students function like this, especially if the class you have to miss to attend another class only meets once a week, but if you can do it and get away with it well hey, good on ya'. 

All in all though it was a good first week. I promise next update will be more fun and have cool pictures and stuff, but I wasn't sure how to work that into this here's a NZ themed cartoon! Enjoy, and (to some viewers) pardon the language. 

                                   "Beached as"
(via youtube)

Explanation: "Sweet as" is a phrase in NZ English sort of similar to the US version, meaning "awesome" or "that's great", but where we say "oh that's sweet as ____" like, sweet as pie, kiwis don't fill in the end of the phrase. The saying is just simply, "sweet as". You can also say other things "as", for a random example, "I'm tired as" if you're really tired, or "beached as" if you're, well, really beached.  

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