Learning Curve

Despite all the traveling I’ve been able to do, I swear that I’m still a good student who goes to class (most of the time). But in the past two weeks, I’ve gone to every single one of my classes! (A pattern soon to be broken.) In honor of the last month of my classes here and my recent avid attendance, here’s a post dedicated to the actual “study” part of “study abroad.”

Coming from a small liberal arts school in Oregon, I’m finding a plethora of differences between there and this large Swiss university. For example, the construction of classes. I’m used to: (4 classes x 3 hours each) = 12 hours total. Here I have all French classes that are: (4 classes x 2 hours each) + (1 class x 4 hours) = 12 hours. My classes are only on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday which is ideal for traveling and for the weekly Wednesday pub nights. Let me elaborate on the definition of “two hours.” There were would be uprisings we were actually were in class for two straight hours. All classes start a quarter past the hour even if the schedule explicitly says the class starts promptly at 10:00. The class schedule also says that classes end after two hours. But only once have I had a professor hold us the full time. We’re always outta there at a quarter til. All in all, (1) it’s hard to keep track of all these classes sometimes, (2) it’s really easy to forget what happens from one class to the next, and (3)  it’s going to quite a surprise when Willamette tells me the credit equivalent of these classes.

Here are some other small things I have noticed:

  • All the classrooms have chalkboards instead of whiteboards and one of my teachers uses an overhead…what grade is this again?
  • Teachers rarely turn the lights on. Sometimes the natural light is enough but sometimes it’s not.
  • The teachers don’t have private offices; instead they share one with several teachers.
  • The teachers don’t care about phones. (At Willamette, I feel like the professors send you death glares if your phone goes off.)
  • My classes have so many people that the professors don’t know (or don’t bother to learn) any names.
  • I have all of my classes in a 5 story building with staircases that remind me of those of Hogwarts aka confusing.
  • You can buy beer at wine at the cafés and eateries on campus.

Yet as these things are becoming more familiar, it will soon be coming to an abrupt halt. Here’s what’s remaining in my scholarly european exchange: ten days of classes, three small assignments, three exams.


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