Coming to New Zealand, I had no idea if and how studying here would be any different to studying in Germany. I’ve since discovered a number of differences, so here are my top 3:
1. Assignments vs Semester Tests
The first thing that caught me off guard in the first two weeks, was the sheer number of assignments we had to write (or in my case: had to code).
In the papers for my Engineering degree in Germany, we only had to write lab reports and assignments that counted towards our grade very occasionally, never on such a frequent basis and in every single paper.
In total, my assignments over the last semester consisted of:
- 7 coding exercises in Data Structures & Algorithms
- 5 in Object-Oriented Programming
- 4 presentations in Product Development
- 1 essay in Contemporary Economic Issues
Additionally, I had a mid-term test in every course as well.
Compared to Germany, where we only have one big test at the end of the semester, this is a lot of work coming. However, on the plus side, it took a large amount of pressure off going into my final exams, since they only make up 60% of the total grade. Furthermore, as you work on all the assignments throughout the semester, you are studying way more than you would without them.
All in all, I feel like the sweet spot when comparing countries is somewhere in the middle. I like having a little bit more free time between the lectures. However, it does make a lot more sense to spread the workload when compared to Germany.
2. Length of the Lectures
At my university in Germany, it is common practice to have lectures of one and half hours as the standard length with a 15 minute break between each lecture and 30 minutes for lunch. In New Zealand every lecture starts at the beginning of the hour and is 50 minutes long, so you have 10 minutes after each lecture to get around. Due to the shorter duration, it is easier to stay focussed for the whole hour, but then there is of less time to get each topic done.
Summed up, the weekly hours in both countries are comparable. Personally, I don’t mind either system, as long as the lecture doesn’t start at 8 AM ;) .
3. Speaking English
Yep, that’s right. The most obvious difference between studying in Germany and New Zealand is, of course, speaking English in class. At first, I was a little bit worried about whether I would understand everything properly. However, after I had my first lectures I noticed that three out of four of my lecturers aren’t native English speakers either. As a result, their English is a little bit simpler as well and needless to say plus everyone can always ask questions if they don’t catch something.