I’m now approaching the middle of my second week of courses. I’ve now had at least one lecture in the three courses I will be doing during the first half of this semester: Optimisation (I refuse to spell it with a ‘z’), Aircraft and Vehicle Design and Swedish Course Level II for Exchange Students.
So far, the content seems relatively straight-forward, though I have a feeling that this will surely change soon!
I’ve been finding the Swedish approach to University a little different than that of the UK. From what I understand, I think this is more closely related to the American system in that there is scope for attendance in whichever courses you feel would suit you. On my course at home, there is a very rigid structure to the syllabus, which has its merits, but I find it quite liberating to start a course in Swedish just because I’m interested in the subject.
Indeed, my attendance on the Swedish course is mainly to give me a tool that I may actually use! I don’t think I can recall attending an academic course simply because I like it; I certainly don’t need the extra credits I will be awarded. The fact that the focus, for me, is not on the grade I achieve but on the education I receive gives me a great feeling of freedom within the classroom.
Some other things are quite different, namely:
Length of the Working Day
Yesterday (Monday 9th) I finished lessons at 2000. This was due to my Swedish course taking place as an evening class. I was prepared for this, and the idea of an evening class didn’t bother me… However today (Tuesday 10th) I shall finish at 1900. My lab session in Aircraft and Vehicle design apparently takes two hours. It seems rather odd that the academic day ends so late, since in England, my day (at the latest) would finish at 1800.
The start of the day isn’t forgiving either! Lectures can start at 0815. Which I’m not sure I am ever going to get over! It doesn’t seem so bad at the moment, but as the days get shorter, the idea of leaving my halls in pitch black and then returning in the dead of night does not appeal to me!
Another odd Swedish university tradition: the Academic Quarter. If a lecture time is posted as 0900, it means that the lecture will begin at a quarter past the hour.
This tradition began in Uppsala (I think), where the first university in Sweden was founded. In those days, wrist watches had not yet been invented, so the only way students could tell the time was by the church bell. Thus, when the bell rang for the hour, they knew they had 15 minutes to get to class.
Unlike the marching, I like this tradition. It seems to me that it was a neat and elegant solution to the problem of getting students to arrive on time!