Immersing yourself in a foreign education system comes with some lessons of its own.
With the third week of classes just beginning, I am still learning the ins and outs of university life in Auckland. As I hone my routine and scope out the best study spots around campus, I am beginning to better understand how different higher education is in New Zealand from the United States.
Coming from a small university, it is different to be sitting in a class with 200 other students I may never talk to throughout the semester. In Washington my professors typically takes attendance and comes to know each student’s name throughout the semester. With larger classes the need to participate, form groups, and do presentations is alleviated. Though I am thankful I will not have to stand in front of 200 of my peers, I do realise the value in focusing on public speaking and working closely with peers for real world experience. My home university puts a large emphasis on practicing soft skills that can only be learned through practice, something much harder to do in a large university.
As for teaching style, I find the instructors to be much more informal. Most refer to themselves by first name, wear jeans and casual clothing, and even have used profane language during lectures. Unlike the United States, there is less of a divide put between the students and the professors. Whereas none of this is to discredit the instructors, I am surprised by the nature of how the student teacher relationship works.
In New Zealand, business students begin their first year with courses most American students do not take until their second or third years of university.
In terms of degree requirements, students in New Zealand are enrolled for three years versus four in the US. In New Zealand, business students begin their first year with courses most American students do not take until their second or third years of university. One year definitely saves time, money, and creates a very young workforce in New Zealand.
Overall, I am still adjusting to the style of coursework, big lectures, and tutorial classes. Even with the main differences between the two countries, it is important to remember each university has their own styles of teaching and grading. With the semester off to a good start, I am excited to delve into my courses and see what lies ahead for my time abroad!