Monday, February 8, 2016

Classes and New Perspectives

Allison Luppe
Plymouth, UK 

British Christians are incredibly nice and not very in-your-face about it. I like that.

It's now week three here in the UK and I am finding that I am not accustomed to wind that can knock you off your feet if you weigh less than one hundred and forty pounds (That's how much I weigh at the time of this posting.) Today was very windy as I went out to get some basic things and pick up a package or two and it seemed like I was the only one who was really struggling against the wind whenever it decided to pick up. I didn't stay out long as a result of this, but it wasn't exactly fun.

Classes started this past week and I finally have my schedule (or timetable as it were) in order. I get Mondays off, which can only mean good things in terms of travel ideas and the like. The way that they do classes over here is very interesting and I'm slowly getting the hang of it, more or less.

Rather than meet for lectures two to three times a week depending on the class itself, you only meet once a week for a lecture and then you meet for a seminar in another part of the week. The lecture is your typical lecture style, the teacher talks, the students take notes, etc. The seminar, it seems, is more for students to really interact with the text and give their perspectives on it. Since last week was mostly a syllabus week (though they keep most of their syllabuses... syllabi? online so they didn't actually pass out physical copies of them), I didn't have any seminars and it was mostly lectures that gave the basic overview of how the class would be run and most of them already starting to delve into the material of the class itself. That was a little jarring, but I had already started reading some of the material that we were going to be going over in class so I wasn't too far behind and I had some idea of what I thought of the characters and settings of the stories that we were going over. I was also really glad that I had the university's app since I could look up my timetable really quickly. Maryville, get on that. I'm kidding (kind of).

They also use a program over here called Modle, and I did spell that correctly. Mostly, it gives you a dashboard of all of the things that you might need to know about the class and provides a kind of schedule for when certain assignments will be due and lectures will be taught. It reminds me a bit of Blackboard, especially since the teachers over here are still learning this system too.

One other thing that happened this week was the Christian Union held their "Satisfied?" series and I was able to go to their lunches and lectures so that I could get a new perspective on the feelings surrounding Christianity. Some of the talks had more debate than others, but overall it was an interesting experience and I got to meet some new people. One of the events that they had was what they called a "Pudding Party" which over here means desserts. It was a nice event and I got to talk to one of the politics students about her thoughts on the current US political system. Somehow the gun culture that is so prevalent in the US came up and she seemed slightly horrified at the idea that I had a hobby of shooting them.

It was an interesting point-of-view, since in the UK guns are rarely ever seen if you aren't using them for a sports event. While that isn't to say that violence has been completely abolished, it was a different perspective on how people in the UK view them. I explained to her that I was well aware of the fact that a gun is a weapon and the multiple steps that I would need to take once I turned 21 in order to receive my hand-carry permit. I relented on the fact that the process that I would be doing was not universal in the US and we shifted away from that topic.

I don't want this blog to become a political one since obviously this is a study-abroad blog and not a politics one, but this was an interesting debate and it was part of my experience thus far. I'm personally for the idea that while guns don't need to be bought up and melted down for steel and spare metal, there needs to be a bit more regulation across the board on how guns are distributed. I like the system that is in place in Tennessee for a couple of reasons since in its basic form it is:

  1. You have to be 21
  2. You have to take and pass a gun safety course by a licensed professional before you are allowed to receive your permit
  3. You have to keep your permit on you at all times and your gun safely put away in a holster
  4. The maximum amount of time that it can go (unless you're willing to pay $500 for a lifetime permit) is 7 years before it has to be renewed and you can't get one of those when you're 21, the earliest is 23 
  5. You'll have to get a background check
Is it a perfect system? Depends on your definition. Do I think it would be nice if it was used nationwide? Absolutely.

I didn't mean to go on a tangent there, but you get my point. This week has been about new perspectives and how things are done in one country does not mean that is worldwide.

These have been my adventures this week