Monday, May 09, 2011

Elizabeth....with a zed.

I met my new colleagues today and think this will be a great department to work in and learn from. One of the goals I have is to learn how another entire system 'does' higher education. What seems to work better? What do I like about the American system? My overview today shows me that I have much to learn! It is a bit daunting when you realize you can read an entire page of proper English, and have no idea what's been said. Same words, but arranged oddly, or with different meanings, so that while they have an air of familiarity, they don't convey the same ideas. Words such as faculty, modules, program(me)s, bursaries, invigilated are either new to me, or new in the way they are utilised (that's how they spell it here, too.) We cannot even agree on the names of the letters, for heaven's sake. I went to get my ID card, and was asked if I spelled Elizabeth "with an ess or a zed"? Um, I guess, given those options, with a zed.

So much of my day was spent learning how the organizational chart of the university here works. It's a changing thing right now, but at least I received the overview. I admired how the student affairs were left to .... the students. The Student Union is run by students, with student labor and management. It's like a labour union (note the extra u...I'm trying to improve my British spelling), but for students. (They build bars in their unions here...drinking age is 18, and there seems to be less ridiculously immature drinking behavior issues. Most of the disciplinary issues are those relating to academics, like cheating.) Most of the student services department deals more with issues surrounding academic support, whereas it is the Student Union that mans a "Student Advice" desk to address student advocacy.

I learned that the British system of examinations is much different as well. The professors submit their tests to the Examinations Team, who then schedule and oversee the administration of over 45,000 campus exams each year. These 3-week exam period are held at the end of each semester, and then "re-sits" for those who failed the first time around are scheduled for August. They also use their consulate to administrate exams overseas. Examinations are a big deal. I wonder if US faculty would like someone else to administer their exams for them?

Also see that faith development/spiritual life gets more than a cursory nod. More on that later.

I'll have to write more tomorrow since it's so late. Wanted to try to get first impressions down while they are fresh though. I should learn more tomorrow from my supervisor Ana about the project I'll be working on.

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