By: Paul Milross
So, I have now experienced life in a Canadian classroom and it is somewhat very different from that in the UK.
At the moment Canada is trying to heal the past with its indigenous peoples so at the start of each module reference is made to the fact that the university is built on land belonging to the first nations' people. The lecturer says the following:
Located on the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc territory within the unceded traditional lands of Secwepmecul'ecw (Secwepemc Nation)
During the induction meetings gifts of tobacco or sage were given to the indigenous people as a sign of respect.
Classes are much stricter than those in the UK. Punctuality is very important to Canadians and it is considered very rude to be late so classes start promptly! If you miss one class, it is accepted however if you miss two you need a medical certificate and any more than that means you are removed from the course. Reading for class too is considered very important and it is not looked upon lightly if you have not completed the preparation beforehand.
The marking system too is very different. Marks are given for your attendance as well as your contribution during class discussions which doesn't happen in England. You are also given extra marks if you work is handed in on time. Penalties of 2% per day are handed down if your essay is late and after a week it is not accepted at all.
I find that Canadian students are much less inhibited during class discussions too. Debates are lively and very interesting whereas at home it can sometimes be a bit difficult to get started due to our shyness.
Whilst Canada is an English speaking country, there are still many differences. In one class on multiculturalism we were asked what the word 'snake' means in our own cultures. Answers ranged from beauty to evil and in one case 'lunch!'
The pace of study in Canada is much quicker and more intense than at home and is one of the reasons why I would thoroughly recommend studying abroad if you get the opportunity.
In the words of the Secwepemc people Weyt - k, le7 re7 sttskits'c - Hello, it is good you came. I am truly glad that I came to Canada.
The weather is turning now as days are struggling to get up above freezing so snow is very imminent. I will be sure to tell you about it when it comes.