Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Classes in Mexico

Academic Differences

At a university in Puebla, Mexico, I can expect:
  • A course load made up of smaller assignments that vary in weight depending on professor 
  • A final assignment or project towards the end of the semester 
  • 75% Attendance policy
  • Faculty should be fairly responsive to meeting with individuals one-on-one
  • 4 partial exams 
Credits in Mexico:
  • Are worth double the amount of US credits
  • 3 US credits = 6 Mexican credits
  • My course load at UPAEP is 36, which equals 18 credits at MC
  • Average course load is 4-5 classes (24-30 Mexican credits)
Grades are based on a ten-point or hundred-point system.
  • 7-10 (70-100) is passing 
  • 6 or 60 is failing
Full Time Status:
  • Maryville college: 12
  • UPAEP: the average is 12-15 US credits at UPAEP, so as long as I'm above 12 US credits I should be in the clear

An American Abroad

Segi-sensei was the first one to introduce me to the idea of a "high-context" vs "low context" language. She explained how Japanese was a language that formed hierarchies of speech based on relationships between speakers. In other words, you have to be aware of your age, status, role, and familiarity with your listener before a single word comes out of your mouth.

Now that I have a better understanding of what high context and low context means, it's no surprise that I found Japanese formalities and speech patterns intimidating, if not uncomfortable. American English is one of the most low context languages on the planet. And low context as a concept even extends beyond language to include aspects of American culture such as individualism, punctuality, and self-reliance.

My mission for the fall semester is to prepare myself for the high context language and culture of Mexico, while acknowledging that I can also share my American perspective now that I've been able to recognize inherent values I hadn't noticed before. For instance, I value punctuality and thriftiness with money. Punctuality will be valuable for getting to class on time and meeting deadlines, but if Mexican culture is more laid back about keeping up with time restraints then I'll have to adapt to that.

I can also tend to be a chronic introvert. I'll have to challenge myself to avoid spending too much time alone so I don't miss out on opportunities to make lifelong friends.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

being a bigger university UPR will have vastly different classroom experience. Classroom attendance is recommended but not required. the class size will also being completely different, and friendships will be harder to make, but that will only strengthen my people skills as well as language skills. although i am studying abroad i still am technically in a part of the US so the credits are the same as MC. The same is true for grading since it is considered an american school the grading is the same.

Academic Differences

In the Netherlands, like in many European countries, class schedules, structures, and credits are vastly different than in the United States. In the Netherlands, course credits are labeled European Credits or ECs, and the ratio of ECs to United States credit hours is about 2:1. It seems that a full-time student is expected to take either 30 or 40 ECs minimum each semester (as compared to our 12 credit hour minimum), and most classes are either 5 or 10 EC classes. At my particular school, the year is divided up into two semesters, Fall (September-February) and Spring (February-June), and each semester is divided into two blocks. In the Fall, block one classes may cut off around the end of October when block two classes begin, and block two class run until the beginning of February. (Or so it would seem, although I can't find an academic calendar that confirms this.)

Courses can have vastly differing schedules, but many seem to meet only once or twice per week. Most of the courses seem to have similar requirements to some of my social science courses here at MC, with exams and papers constituting the majority of graded work, and normally there seems to be only one exam per class, two at the most. The learning expectations and prerequisites seem to be very similar as well, and classes that covered the same topic as MC courses tended to be fairly easy to exchange, according to my adviser and division chair. Grading is drastically different, however, as the grading scale in the Netherlands ranges from a 1 (very poor) to a 10 (outstanding and unlikely to achieve). Usually an 8 or above will translate to an A in the U.S.

While no specific resources are listed for exchange students outside of the usual language programs (for non-English speakers), Leiden does have a program called the "Leiden Study System" wherein students and faculty work together to create a comprehensive study plan for students, with regular academic feedback from advisers. This leads me to believe that there would be other resources available to me should I need academic support during my time abroad. However, the Dutch method of education entrusts students with a high-level of personal responsibility and independence during the course of their studies, so I'm not sure Leiden will have its own Noah Bowman.

Academic Differences

The academic differences present when going abroad is not always the first thing people think about, but it is quite important. Understanding these differences before departure can help ease the transition. At Nord University, the academic workload is much less than what we experience in the US. Most classes are graded solely on a student’s performance on a final exam or paper with a few grades regarding participation throughout the semester. This can be a little nerve wrecking because it seems like so much of your overall performance is graded on one assignment.
The classroom expectations also differ from here at MC. At Nord University, you are expected to show up to any lab classes but otherwise, lecture periods are often recommended but not required. The few classes that lectures are required, students must attend 80% of the classes, whereas in MC it is closer to 95% before absences will affect your grade. The classroom culture will also differ. Although the classes that I plan to take will be an exception, most classes will have a large amount of students in a class, but here at MC I have had classes with only 10 people. Due to the small class sizes it is not uncommon for students and professors to be acquaintances and sometimes even friends.
Nord University runs on the ECTS credit system which differs form the “hours” system followed in the US. This means that every 2.5 ECTS credit counts as 1 “hour” in the US. If it is a 10 ECTS class, this means it is a 5 “hour” class here. I plan to take a semester package while at Nord University called Adventure Knowledge which will have three modules: Experience of Nature, Experience Pedagogy, and Experience of Art, Architecture and Cultural Heritage. Each module is worth 10 ECTS adding to a total of 30 ECTS for the semester. Due to the cohesive nature of the courses, each will meet at differing times depending on the type of activities that will be completed during that week.
Grading in Norway is quite similar to the scale in the US. Although Norway seems to not have variation in an A, as in A+, A, and A-, an A in Norway is an A in the US.

 A semester load of 12 hours has to be completed to be considered a full-time student at MC. While at Nord University, I will need to take 30 ECTS, or 15 hours, to be considered a full-time student.

An American Studying Abroad

One of the more attractive qualities of my internship abroad is that I also get to take a course. The best part about being able to take my course is that I will still be under a United States system. Anglo-American University is an American college in Prague. The difference between Maryville College and Anglo-American University is the number of people who are from different nationalities. The university uses the same credit system, the same grading system, and similar workloads.

I will be exposed to multiple cultures and approaches to scholarship. The faculty is composed of instructors from twenty different countries. It is possible that my professors will be from Czech Republic, Israel, or Austrailia. Their class sizes are capped at twenty-five, with some courses being capped at twenty or even fifteen.

The school is a much younger institution than Maryville College, so it does have fewer programs. The programs, however, are all geared toward students learning within an international community.
It is encouraged that students interact with students from countries other than one's own. There are over seventy countries represented in the student body. Interacting with those who are from a different culture seems as though it will be very easy at AAU.

Another difference between my home institution and my host institution is the operation of academic services. While tutoring is student-led at Maryville College, tutoring is done by professors. There is a set of lecturers who offer their time in their areas of specialization. They have a set schedule for them to be present and available for students. I look forward to taking advantage of this while completing my full-time Summer schedule of six credits.
The academic differences of Argentina in compared to  maryville will the less amount of work compared to the normal full time load during a normal semester.  During the summer, to be considered a full time student at Maryville a student has to take 6 credit hours while in Argentina it is only required 3 hours. the culture of the classroom will be the biggest difference overall but it will have the same objective as other classes. The testing schedule on the website shows we have a midterm and a final as our only exams. While the credit system is the same for both places the grading scale is 1-10 instead of letter grades. From what i researched on the area and country of Argentina the city and the people will be friendly and help with any confusion in the city. With my roommates also taking the program there will be at least two other people there to help with studies and adjusting to the class and culture.