After three months of no assigned reading, 10 page papers, or class lectures, on Monday March 1st I started school as a student of Victoria University of Wellington (Vic). The school has some 20,000 students, which is much larger than what I am accustomed to (AU is just around 6,000). I am taking three courses, two media classes and one political science course. The two media classes, which is really communications here at Vic, are really going to force me to learn more about pop culture and how kiwis really feel about their worldwide reputation. The first media class, popular media culture, is all about the media outlets here in New Zealand and the ways in which various ethnicities, genders, and cultural differences are portrayed. This class will also help me out with the other media class I am enrolled in, politics in the media in New Zealand. This class is about what the title implies. In the very first class, yesterday morning, the topic of American Politics came up and the way in which 24 hour television news sources, such as CNN and Fox skew the American public' view of the world. At least this is what one Kiwi student said and felt. Time will only tell whether the professor and students will use American political media to compare NZ political media.
Speaking of politics, it fascinates me how interested in our political system and figures Kiwi students are. I've seen multiple students wearing Obama shirts and several more with newspaper clippings post-election day of 2008. When discussing this with some of my Kiwi friends they were all very interested to hear I had been at the Inauguration. They all admire our political system, as they think it is much less catty and more serious then theirs. They believe their politicians make more negative personal comments to one another on the floor of Parliament, then actually accomplish policy-making. If only they really understood Congress or heard of Rep. Joe Wilson.
My third and final class is political philosophy of international relations. In the class we'll look at various philosophers from ancient Greece to Karl Marx in the 19th Century and how the philosopher's writings affected political action. Should also be a very interesting class (but tons of reading).
All the class sizes are gigantic here! The biggest class I ever had at AU was around 150 students and that was Freshman year macroeconomics, since then all of my classes have been between 25-45 students. The largest class I have here is 355 students and the smallest was around 60. Here at Vic, most classes also have an additional section called a tutorial. "Tutes" are pretty much like TA discussion sessions and only occur once a week for about an hour.
Luckily I don't have class on Friday, so I can continue to plan some weekend trips around New Zealand. I would like to get to Queenstown and Milford Sound before the weather starts to turn.