Thursday, August 17, 2006

Homework? I have to do homework?

The semester is getting into full swing, so I'm starting to get fairly busy with schoolwork. Here almost your entire grade in most classes is based on a few large assessments, like one major paper and one major test per semester. Everything in between is left up to the student. It's certainly a bit of a change from the American system, which leans more towards too much control.

A couple Americans here had friends come and visit them, so we took the new people out to yet another wildlife refuge. This one was a bit more structured, but also a bit more complete. We go to see some new animals, most notably wombats, dingoes, and an echidna (the other strangely evolved creature in the same family tree as a platypus). Pictures here. Look for the pictures of baby dingoes. They are possibly the cutest things I have ever seen.

Also, some cool frisbee news: I played in another hat tournament last weekend, and not only did my team win the championship (out of six teams), but I got voted MVP of the tournament! Needless to say, I was pretty flattered.

Edit: I fixed the commenting so you don't have to be a registered member to comment any more.

Monday, August 07, 2006

A few more photos and a tangent

There's a few more photos up, mostly ones that I stole from other people. You can find them here.

I mentioned before that Adelaide is a very clean city, but I didn't really elaborate. It is incredibly clean. There just isn't any litter. None. I don't think anyone here litters at all. Australians seem to be very environmentally aware in general as well. Maybe the destruction of so much of their environment at the hands of invasive species has made them more aware of what they have left. Maybe they're just a little more in touch with nature than we are. I'm not sure. I talked to an environmental activist passing out leaflets on campus the other day, who was telling me about how new the idea of lobbying and lobbyists is to Australian politics. At one point she said something along the lines of "We're doing pretty badly with the environment right now." I was amazed. I'm not denying that Australia has some very serious ongoing environmental issues. But there's parks all over the city, huge tracts of land are reserved as wilderness areas, and most of all, John Q. Public is actually worried about what impact he is having on things, and that's doing badly?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A little background...

...for those of you who aren't actually sure where I am. I'm in the city of Adelaide, where I'm attending the University of Adelaide.

See that, down in the southeast corner, near Melbourne? That's Adelaide. It's a pretty big city, but a very nice one. There seem to be parks everywhere you turn, there's a lot of very nice architecture, and it is the cleanest city I have ever seen. There's no litter anywhere, everything is in good repair, there's lots of pedestrian areas... it's incredible. The weather here has been quite lovely. It ranges from the low 50s to the 70s most days. It's been much cooler than I had planned for, so I didn't really bring enough warm clothes. It is the middle of winter here, so I probably should have figured this out sooner. Still, I certainly can't complain, especially after hearing from those of you in the Midwest.

The university is much bigger than what I'm used to, obviously. We have lecture sessions with hundreds of people per class. Most classes also provide a 'tutorial' component, which is a smaller breakout group of less than 20 people. These provide more of the discussion parts and personal interaction with the professors and other students. There's usually one hour of tutorial and two hours of lecture each week.

I'm staying with a residential 'college', which is a sort of dorm setup. Since most Australian students continue to live with their parents while they attend uni, the unis don't provide dorms. So students from rural Australia or other countries either rent an apartment or stay in one of the colleges. Lincoln College, where I'm staying, has about 300 or so students. There are three main dorm buildings, a dining hall, a modest library and gym, and buildings for various other administrative stuff. The food is lousy, but the people here are quite nice. There's a lot of college activities, like a weekly pub night (the drinking age here is 18), sports competitions against other colleges, debates between dorms, and occasional large events (fancy dinners, 'balls,' and so on).

Ok, that's it for now.