So after two unforgettable weeks of crazy adventures, the first day of classes rolled around. And of course, I got lost.
The campus is broken up into a grid system of letters and numbers, so finding buildings is fairly easy to do. The problem was that the number/letter combination on my schedule was for the room within the building I needed to get to. So there I am running around the law building and following this room number into a private study room in the library. Clearly something was not right. So what do I do? Oh you know, just wander up to the Christian Club table that is eagerly giving out pamphlets and ask where I am and where I need to go. Luckily they were as friendly as ever and the building I needed was just across the way. I had three minutes to go and I booked it out of there!
Soon enough I was seated in my lecture which was a discussion sized room – making my late arrival all that more intimidating. People did show up around 30 minutes late though, so that was somewhat of a relief. I had no idea what I was in for when I sat down though. A 3 hour lecture should not even be legal. In Australia you only have class once a week and then maybe you have a discussion or lab attached with it, but not usually. Here I was, stuck in a tiny room (28 Aussies & 2 Americans) with broken air conditioning and no water bottle. It felt like it was 90 degrees and I thought I was going to pass out. The only thing that kept me going was how hilarious the professor was. Every time someone spoke he would poke fun at what they said. He called the computer science majors out as being extremely nerdy and weird. He was really blunt about everything and he, as most other professors do, asked to be called by his first name so the student/teacher relationship was less formal. As soon as the three hours were up though, I ran out of that room so fast and never looked back. Three hour lectures were not going to be a part of my semester, I could learn Cyberspace Law another year…
I am currently taking Marketing and Distribution Law, Publics and Publishing, and Working with Time Space and Experience, as well as having an internship for credit. I know my way around campus pretty well now. People even come up to me asking for directions (one of the students told me I could pass as an Aussie – too bad the Taxi drivers don’t agree!)
University of New South Wales is similar in size to the University of Wisconsin – Madison. I would say the campus isn’t as spread out but the number of students is close to the same, maybe even more. Surprisingly, it also seems like 70% of campus seems to be Asian students. Not something I was expecting, but it makes sense that Australia is an easy place to send kids for uni life (what they refer to as university and college here).
It is surprising how carefree the students on campus are. They just leave bags with all of their stuff outside of the bookstore without any fear of someone taking their laptop or assignments. Also little kids ride the public bus by themselves to school. That is something you would never see happen in the states. It’s nuts, but really impressive for the trust that parents have with their kids. That is a great way to learn independence at such a young age. It also makes you realize how safe it is here.