Level 13 Academic Warrior

Lately, a large portion of my collected fan mail has been flooded with requests for me to describe how different schooling is in Melbourne in comparison to Richmond. So, I figured that now, during the exam period, is a perfect a time to fill you in.

First off, the University of Melbourne is held in pretty high regard. It’s prestigious in Australia, and I think about 40,000 students attend school here. That’s about ten times what I’m used to at the University of Richmond. Classes are divided into lectures, which equal one professor teaching an auditorium full of 200+ students — for a little more than an hour if you’re lucky, and for two hours if you’re not. Unlike Richmond, the lectures are so big there’s no way they can actually take attendance. That would probably take about the entire lecture to complete. So, of course, if a few students don’t show up, a lecturer won’t notice. On the other hand, like in my Human Rights in East Asia class, if only 24 students show up to a lecture of 100, the professor has a pretty good idea that some people aren’t showing up. Also, classes are called subjects here, and subjects are called courses (Note: be on the lookout for an upcoming Australian to American English lingo translation guide).

Anyway, university here taught me a few very important lessons.

Number one: there is no actual cap or regulation on the amount of red ink that can be used while grading a paper.

Number two: the grading system starts a lot lower here than it does back in America, so the category for failing is consequently a lot lower.

Number three: in a panic attack induced from receiving a very low grade, refer to number two.

Number four: even though classes here are pass or fail, grades still made a difference to me. I’m not sure if it’s some sort of self-instilled personal high standard, or simply a way of judging my own abilities, but I still wanted to do well. At the same time, it taught me to do something because I wanted to, not because I had to. After skipping a few lectures, I realized that I would only have one opportunity to see education from this non-American point of view. This would be my only chance to see, in a completely unbiased manner, how other countries see the United States. As soon as I started listening, I realized how incredible of an experience that was. There was now this new category of an “American perspective,” and it drove me to learn everything I could. It really is an experience I can’t quite put into words, but if I tried, I’d say it’s one that’s worth it.

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