Deciding on which school to study at during my study abroad was simple. I knew that the University of New South Wales (UNSW) was highly ranked in Australia, and its location would be close to the beach and my apartment. After attending the school for a couple of months now, I can easily say my decision was a great one.
I love the upbeat atmosphere that travels around campus. I also really enjoy all of my classes and professors. It has been a great opportunity being able to experience a different cultures education.
When I arrived in Australia I knew the education system was set up a little differently and got to personally experience it. At first it seemed like there was less work within each class. I discovered that the workload is really just distributed differently. I spend less time in class, but more time in the library. There are fewer assessments due throughout the semester, but each assignment is worth a larger percentage of your final grade.
One of the biggest differences is the grading system. Instead of starting from 100% and subtracting after each mistake, Australians Start at 0% and add with each correct point. This results in an overall lower grading system. A pass is 50-64%, a credit is 65-74%, a distinction is 75-84%, and a high distinction is 85-100%.
Putting in an efficient amount of effort and getting back a grade lower than what you typically would receive was a shock at first. I eventually got used to the fact the average grade was a bit lower.
Another difference comes into play with the overall personality of the school. In the states there is that stereotypical “college life” atmosphere in schools with sports, clubs, sororities, frats, partying, and school spirit. Although there are a few of those things at UNSW, the overall vibe is a little different. Most students commute and it seems as if they come to school each day just for class. I don’t prefer either type of atmosphere; I just think it’s neat that I get the opportunity to experience both.
Although there is plenty of differences from my school back home to UNSW, they have things in common too. Every teacher and staff I have encountered here has been beyond friendly and helpful. If I ever have any questions or need help with something no matter the significance, someone is always there for assistance.
Clubs and organizations are also a very present aspect here. There was an event at UNSW to sign up for clubs towards the beginning of the school year. Stand after stand offered endless varieties of clubs for students to join. As photography minor, my favorite club so far is Photo Club! The positive and friendly atmosphere here at UNSW is also a familiar characteristic. All differences and similarities aside, my time here so far has been very rewarding.
Many students in The Education Abroad Network program also attend UNSW. It’s nice to see familiar faces walking across campus or studying in the library. It seems as if every other TEAN student studying at UNSW loves it just as much as I do.
Nate Kotsones is a TEAN engineering student from Dexter, Michigan who attends Purdue University back home. I asked him about his favorite thing about UNSW’s campus and he responded, “The library! There are many areas that are all very different for whatever mood I’m in or for what kind of work I have to get done. The beanbag area is my favorite!”
I also caught fellow TEAN students, Dana Krawetz and Jamie Weil, in the library catching up on homework. Dana is from Dallas, Pennsylvania and attends the University of Maryland back home. Jamie is from Arlington Heights, Illinois and attends the University of Illinois. They both have had a great experience studying at UNSW, too.
Dana said, “All of my classes are very interactive. I really get to know the locals through class discussions and group projects. The connection between students and teachers is a lot different than what I am used to. It is a lot less formal and more of an open discussion.” Jamie added “ Yeah I definitely agree with that. I love the laidback and friendly atmosphere UNSW carries! My favorite thing about campus is being able to find areas all over to have lunch, study, or hang out with friends in between my classes.”
From, research, personal experience, and talking to international students I got to discover all of the great aspects UNSW has to offer. I really enjoy all of my classes and being able to see the ocean on my short walk home is a nice touch, too. UNSW has really helped with the transition of moving to a new country and I couldn’t be happier with my decision.