I have actually been asked by quite a few people how classes are going – crazy, I know. I had heard from previous students that their courses abroad were so wonderfully easy – and I was ready for my own stress-free/care-free semester in Austria.
…I’m not sure how Johannes Kepler Universität Linz missed the memo, but my classes are no joke.
New Perspective, Who This?
My courses take a lot more effort than I originally planned, but I am actually very happy to be challenged by my professors and gain new knowledge and perspective about international business and economics. JKU is a theory-based institution and that is very evident. It is fascinating to develop a better understanding about economic theory that was often developed by Europeans doing research around the area I am currently in. These principles have usually been challenged and put to the test by many other economists - in recent times by many brilliant people who go to the United States to conduct further studies. Getting the European theoretical view on the application that takes place in my home country is so intriguing.
Austrian vs. American Universities
I have noticed some notable differences between the Austrian and American university systems. The logistics of when classes are held are completely different. A class meets weekly or biweekly. The actual contact hours are similar, but it is not split up. This means class periods range from 1.5 to 9 hours. My concentration is tested and my need for caffeine is amplified. However, this enforces and allows more time to review material on our own. I have time to read my textbooks and review previous lectures before a class period and I can review what we just learned after class. It is now crucial to be prepared for class since we do not meet often. This schedule also allows for more days without class – which is of course nice when being on an exchange/study abroad semester.
Busy work is not a thing. Teachers expect students to keep up on their own and do not give weekly assignments or projects. There is usually just a final exam or sometimes also a midterm exam. This means the final grade is based off one or two tests – something I am not used to.
Something I am very impressed with here is the textbook system. Teachers assign a few books they will be teaching from and expect students to read on their own time. At first, I just thought about how expensive that was going to be since I am used to spending about US$100 for each book claimed to be mandatory. But I was shocked and stoked to learn that you simply go to the library and check them out! I had never even thought about it, but I now realize it is the most logical thing to be offered by a university library.
Being introduced to new learning styles and techniques allows for a more open mind on how education can work. I have enjoyed experiencing this firsthand and look forward to the rest of the semester.
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