Actually Learning on the Go: Some (Academic-Specific) Tips From Australia

The academic situation in Australia (at least at the University of Melbourne) was bizarre for me because it was so laid back. Coming from Georgetown, and especially as an upperclassman, I was accustomed to smaller classes, where professors actually notice if you don’t turn up to class. The Australian system is basically entirely like freshman classes—huge lectures with slowly-dwindling attendance rates as the semester progresses, paired with smaller discussion courses taught by TAs (who are called tutors in Australia).


The grades in Australia were both more and less stressful than my Georgetown grades: less, because there were way fewer assignments in each class (each course that I took had only about two or three essays/presentations that were actually graded); more, because each assignment was worth a massive amount of my final grade. This led to an unfortunate incident where I was trying to finish an essay worth 40 percent of my grade in fewer than three hours from an airplane en route to Tasmania. But I got it in and got a decent grade on it, so that story is funny and instructive, rather than sad.


I took some interesting classes in Australia, particularly the ones that were specific to Australian culture. Australian Politics and Australian Literature taught me a lot that I could think about while exploring history museums or debating American v. Australian politics with my new Australian friends. Plus, learning about Australians from Australians gives a certain insight into the culture that I am surrounded by, that I never would have known I was missing out on.

^This is what I was doing in Tasmania rather than working on my essay.  In fairness, can you blame me?

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