Australian V. American Schooling

Through The Eyes of A Former Study Abroad Student

Vanessa Arieno

Studying abroad for five months will leave you with more knowledge than you ever could have imagined knowing of the world, the beauty of living and traveling independently and of course most importantly…coming home broke. It is an amazing experience traveling the world without a doubt. Meeting and living with people from all over the world learning how they live where they come from and understanding their culture is something you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

Speaking from experience being broke is probably the only con when coming home after five months abroad but the knowledge you gain in a whole new country is incredible. One of the coolest things you’ll find is the difference in the education systems from your home country to the country you studied in. Learning the difference in the grading systems, how tests work, what professors are called, how often each class is held throughout the week… the list goes on.

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In Australia, for each class you are enrolled in you take a lecture along with a separate workshop/tutorial. The lecture consists of roughly an hour’s time of obviously only the professor lecturing that subject. The workshop/tutorial is where the interaction between the tutor and students happens. From personal experience this is where the fun takes place. Workshops/tutorials are where you work on group or individual projects. The professors in the tutorials are called tutors, which was a term I failed to actually use studying in Australia.

Being used to using the term ‘professor’ my entire life, I thought breaking the lingo was difficult. It was cool having separate classes strictly for lecturing and strictly for hands on material with the tutor. Now, the tutor is a different professor from the lecturer, which also make it more interesting so you are actually learning material from different minds. This makes concepts easier to understand because you have the opportunity to learn from two exceptional individuals of whatever subjects your class is about. In certain situations depending on the length of the class it may hold the lecture and workshop in the same time frame so this would then be a three hour class.

The grading system is very different in Australia. Grades range from High Distinctions (HD) to Distinction (D) to Credit (C) to Pass (P) to a Fail (F). A high distinction is very difficult to get but ranges between an 85-100%. A Distinction ranges from a 75-84%. A Credit ranges from a 65-74%. A Pass ranges from a 50-64%. A Fail is anything under 50%. While everyone wants to shoot for an HD the grading is harsh, but if you achieve an HD you will be very proud of yourself.

School in Australia was definitely an adventure of a lifetime and I am beyond blessed I was able to experience school abroad. The knowledge I have today from spending time in a new country and going to school with students from all over the world while learning from brilliant Australian professors was incredible.

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