Thursday, September 29, 2011

Question 3: How is the education system you are experiencing different from what you are accustomed to in the U.S.? From your perspective as a student in the U.S. how is it beneficial and disadvantageous? Consider the perspective of your host-country’s students, how is it beneficial to them? Is it unfavorable to them in any way? Talk about your perceptions of the education system and how your perceptions might be different if you came from a different background.

The French education system is worlds away from what I've experienced in the U.S. Here the student has a set curriculum in each area of study (though sometimes there are two or three options to choose between), classes are much lengthier and usually involve lots of lectures (I have one three and a half hour lecture course once a week), and the bachelors equivalent system in French universities lasts only a year. Moreover, since this university gives students a French degree it attracts many students from the surrounding islands, such as Maritius, Mayotte, Madagascar, and Rodrigues. One of my translation teachers informed my class that another big difference between Université de la Réunion and other European universities is that this university is quite poor. She said that on average a student pays 60€ a year for tuition. This makes the Université more of a public school that any higher institution I have ever heard of in the U.S. This is a dramatic contrast to the commercialization of education in the U.S. and it opens the gates of higher education to many more people. Despite these positives, this also means it suffers from some of the negatives of most public institutions. The maintenance of the buildings is terrible, some of the teachers are horrendous, and one (possibly the most) incredibly over-looked aspect is the maturity of the students. I have been to classes from all three years of the bachelor in lettres (the equivalent of English language and literature for the French) here and have seen (as well as heard from others) a remarkable difference in the maturity of the students. My third year class could be a lecture class in any university in the U.S., however the first year class I went to was more like that of a high school than anything I've experienced in college. Almost all of the students were talking and whispering when the Professor was speaking. He had to periodically stop talking and make an effort to quiet them down and at one point he said “If you don't want to be here put your head down on the desk and go to sleep, just don't talk.” While I will admit that it was one of the most boring classes I have ever gone to I was nevertheless surprised at the behavior of the students. Most people I know only think of the ridiculousness of the prices of universities in the U.S., but they forget to think about what would happen if universities were cheap enough that anyone could go. While some people do possess the money to go to college, I feel that the vast majority of students spend a lot of time, money, and effort just to get into college. After experiencing this class I find myself thankful for the college selection process and the fact that despite the flaws in our higher education system, college is seen as a goal to be attained, not just another option for when high school ends.

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