Now that the semester is nearly over, I’ll share what my experience has been like in the class room. I have two courses, Scandinavian Politics and Norwegian. Let me say, it is a much different experience than what I have experienced at Berkeley in terms of teaching and exam style.
Students take 30 ECTS worth of classes and that’s the equivalent of Berkeley’s full course load. That breaks down into two or three classes depending on how many hours that course is worth. With that said, a person could take one class if it’s worth 30 ECTS. My classes are worth 45 ECTS since the the Norwegian course is such an intensive course. The amount of work associated with each class doesn’t feel as hectic as Berkeley classes but I think that has a lot to do witht the ideology rooted in the education here.
Norway and other Scandic countries are known for creating an education system that fosters personal responsibility. They’re serious. That means although a student may not have many, or any, homework assignments or midterms, they are still expected to keep up with the readings. The expectation that you keep up with your reading is common at Berkeley too, but there are check points to ensure you are completing your work. At Berkeley, the structure of the classes and how the teaching style provide us an opportunity to engage the material. We learn to critically think and question the topics.
Education is like rock climbing a massive cliff. The American system uses carabiners attached to hooks in the mountain, while the Norwegian education system is like free climbing.The end of the climb is equivalent to taking that final exam. When you climb up a mountain, sometimes a climber will attach carabiners to fixed bolts in the wall. The idea is that if the climber falls while ascending the wall, these attached carabiners will catch him and prevent him from falling to his death. In this analogy, carabiners are eqivalent to the homework, quizzes, and midterms. The classes I take at UIB don’t have these carabiners, or safety nets. As I continue to climb this perverbial wall, I’m hoping the final exam doesn’t leave me free falling to the ground.
It can be a challenging experience transitioning from a system that constantly confirms you’re keeping up and understanding the material, to a system where it is your responsibility to learn the material by reading and completing the readings on time. While I feel like I’m easily scaling Mount Everest without the assigned tasks, I hope I don’t slip and fall when I reach the top. I have some daily habits I use to ensure I don’t fall off the side of the mountain, but that’s a post for another day!