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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I Put the "Stud" in Study Abroad

Now that I am in week 3 of classes, I am ready to post my first blog discussing my classes, schedule, and immediate differences between school in the U.S. and Australia.

The main thing that I notice while in class down here is the sense of "The Relaxed Australian", and trust me, that is not a good thing. My engineering class is mainly Australian and Asian students and I have noticed a few "habits". First off, tardiness is ridiculous down here. About half of the class is present to start the lecture and then the second half trickles in throughout the next 10-15 minutes. At least at DU, I have never encountered this before. In one of my 50-minute lectures, someone was even dumb enough to come into class at the 40-minute mark. Why even come to class? Also somewhat annoying in my engineering class is the amount of talking that is being done while the professor is lecturing. Really not surprising but the bulk of this chit-chatting is being done by Asian students. Also, in tutorials (where we are to review practice problems that we were supposed to do over the last week), only a few students and myself have even attempted the problems. I've put about 45 minutes worth of effort, not much by engineering standards, into these problems and it makes me look like a genius to the tutor simply because I have at least tried.  Lastly, there is a collection of students who believe it appropriate to yawn loudly during the lecture while the professor is talking. Needless to say it really ticks the professor off.

In addition to the...hmm what should we call it? Rudeness? In addition to the rudeness, the only main difference so far in my engineering class is the priorities. For example, at DU, we are expected to know why things work the way they do and how to solve problems, and we are provided with equation sheets for the exams. Here, apparently memorizing equations is worth my time because there are no equation sheets provided for the final. In total, I will probably have to memorize something like 40 equations. Also, there is a lot less work week to week here. I only have one problem a week that I have to turn in, but that is because so much emphasis is placed on the final which is worth 60%. Yes. You read that correct. 60% of my grade is based on the final. If you wanted to take the words out of my mouth, you would be currently saying, "I miss DU engineering." not because it is easier, its definitely a lot more work, but its easier to get a desirable grade.

Now that I have released my deep-buried, Negative Nancy tirade, I can get on to describing my schedule and classes/professors. Here is my day to day schedule which, compared to my typical DU schedule, is fairly easy.

3pm-5pm -- Advanced Thermodynamics Lecture
5pm-6pm -- Advanced Thermodynamics Tutorial

11am-12pm -- Heat Transfer Lecture
12pm-1pm -- Heat Transfer Tutorial
3pm-6pm -- Business, Ethics, and the Law Lecture

12pm-2pm -- Australian Legends Lecture

12pm-1pm -- Heat Transfer Lecture
2pm-4pm -- Marine Environment Lecture
4pm-5pm -- Australian Legends Tutorial

NO CLASS!!! YAY!! I have always wanted to say that...

Now an overview of my classes and professors:

- Advanced Thermodynamics: other than the chatty-Kathys, a pretty standard engineering class. Has to do with mainly heat, work, and energy/exergy of systems like steam turbines, pumps, etc. I have already seen most of the material before so the lectures can get pretty dull. The professor is somewhat grumpy, and apparently paranoid but not really any different than DU professors. During the last class period, one Asian student was taking pictures of the lecture slides and the professor requested that he stop doing that because his lectures are "basically copyrighted" and that "there are people here, at this University, who would steal this lecture". It was all I could do to not burst out laughing after he said this. 9 times out of 10, professors download the PowerPoint presentations provided with the textbooks, and I am pretty sure this professor has done just that.

-Heat Transfer: another engineering class which I have already seen much of the material, this one is kept more interesting by the professor. A good-natured guy who genuinely likes teaching, he effectively gets his point across with less derivations of equations and more examples and explanations of how and why things are the way they are. Still a ton of chatty-Kathys though...

-Business, Ethics, and the Law: probably my favorite class and professor at UNSW so far. The topics are essentially what the title of the class dictates, but the class is made extremely entertaining by the professor, Frank Zumbo. The first day of class, and I quote him, he told us to, "Take out your computers right now and add me on Facebook. I am trying to get to the 1000 friend mark and I promise I wont creep on your profile, except for your pictures." Now, that sounds creepy, but he is just one of the guys that you can tell really easily when he is joking and when he is serious. My group has a presentation next week in which we are doing a gameshow that discusses the pros and cons of Australian businesses doing business with unethical international corporations. To give you an idea of the nature of the course, in our gameshow, the first person to squirt Zumbo in the face with a watergun gets to answer the question. So much fun.

-Australian Legends: an interesting class that discusses the history of Australia and how their national identity is viewed around the world, and how it is constantly contested and changing. The professor for this class is a nice lady who is definitely a expert on the material, but her presentations can be a little dry. Probably the most interesting part about this class is the opportunity to compare aspects of the U.S. with Australia.

-Marine Environment: honestly, this class reminds me of a high school class. It seems pretty easy, with short assignments, and picture-filled lectures. But you know what? My brain still hurts from engineering last year (mainly Integration I and II) so I welcome the pictures of sea-critters. We have three field trips throughout the quarter, and it should be a good time.

Well, hope you enjoyed that synopsis of the Study portion of Study Abroad!

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