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supermarkets and class schedules

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one of the first things that i learned when i got to auckland (the driver who picked me up from the airport told me this) is that a lot of german students come to study here. there is apparently some kind of exchange set up between u-of-a and germany where students from either country can attend university in the other country and pay the fees they'd pay at home. this is very attractive for german students, who tend to already have good english anyway. kiwis don't take advantage of it nearly as often because of the language barrier.

well, this bit of information was proved quite accurate when at the international student orientation, the orientation leaders were asking the audience "who here comes from (insert country here)?" american students were easily the largest group, but the number of german students was actually not too much less – especially considering how far behind all of the other groups were.

the upshot is that i have fallen in with a group of german postgrads (a dangerous crowd, i know, but i am trying not to let them have too bad of an influence on me), so the german experience lives on. i am also officially taking a first semester of german here, and now i have guinea pigs, oops, i mean friends, to practice on.

i always find it interesting how much you can tell about a place from its supermarkets. in germany, there tended to be a very small selection of pre-packaged, pre-sliced bread in grocery stores. this is because germans love their fresh bread (and rightly so, it's delicious there). there are bakeries everywhere and every day or two you go to a bakery in the morning to get a fresh loaf or rolls or pretzels. in new zealand, i haven't seen a real bakery yet. in the foodtown supermarket there is a long aisle of pre-packaged, pre-sliced bread...none of it any good, either. two of my german friends here, juli and thomas, were comparing the breads they had made their sandwiches with and were in general quite sad about the bread here.

however, what they do have at foodtown is the largest collection of yogurt that i have ever seen. in containers of all sizes, flavors of all kinds. my yogurt proclaims that "it's the acidophilus and bifidus that keeps your family healthy!" they even have an aisle full of dry yogurt cultures so that you can make yogurt on your own.

of course, there is also a lot of fish here. the other night we made sushi and it was delicious.

on a different subject entirely, we've all spent the last week wrangling our class schedules. most of the other ies students seem to be taking the "easier classes, more time to experience the country" route, and while i considered it for a while, being the school addict that i am i just can't bring myself to do it. i console myself with the notion that an important part of getting to know a country is getting to know its educational system, and one of the main reasons i came here was because i could directly enroll in the university and interact with actual students. plus, my classes are exciting: a class called "literature and science," which couldn't be more appropriate; a history of science class; an upper-level drama class that seems like it'll incorporate theory and performance; and the aforementioned german.

in the course of getting approval for these classes (classes come in 3 stages here, and anything above a stage 1, which all of mine are except for german, you have to get approved for if you're a study abroad student – most of them have prereqs), i've met and talked to a number of professors. they've all been super friendly and helpful. the response i usually get to "can i sign up for this upper level class?" is:

"well, let's see. what year are you?"

"um, this is my fifth year."

"five? is that normal?"

"yeah, no, four is normal, but i have three majors, so it's taking me a little bit longer to finish – "

"three majors? well, i'm pretty sure you'll be able to handle this course."

this is a little scary, because i feel like my prior education is being put to the test a bit here. hopefully it is up to the task. u-of-a is ranked in the top 50 schools internationally...

other fun things that happened in the course of talking to professors: i learned a bit of trivia from one of them, talking about the crazy different point systems that schools have (at pitt, 3 or 4 credits is a normal class; here, 15 points is a normal class, but about equivalent to 4 credits for us, so we take 4 classes here). he said that the reason they do 15 points is that normally, you would take 60 points per semester = 120 points per year = 360 points in 3 years, the normal time here to finish a "degree." it's kind of like a sick joke on the part of the educational head honchos: you need 360 points to finish a degree, like the degrees of a circle.

Posted by ctamler 15:45 Archived in New Zealand Tagged educational

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