Ok, let me run through a list of things (Sweden vs. Canada) that struck my mind:
Please note, although this list is comparing two specific engineering programs, the motivation is to capture the general trends.
- School terms are really short
- Sweden: each year is divided into two semesters, and each semester has two quarters (ie. Four quarters in a year).
- Canada: each year is divided into three terms, each term is about 4 month long.
- Course structure is different
- Swedish students take two courses each quarter and four per semester. This leads to ten hours of “Internal Combustion Engine” and ten hours of “Automotive Engineering Systems” per week. I sure love engines, but ten hours thermodynamics can be a bit exhausting at times. Note that tutorials are included in the ten hours of each subject.
- Waterloo Engineering students generally have five to six courses per semester. We had about 34 hours of class per week during our freshman year. The class hours dropped to 14 in senior year, and instead, we had many more project-based courses.
- Exams come and go all the time!
- Rapid absorption of knowledge: Q3 started 1 September and we are already having final exams by the end of October. It is therefore important to stay on top of your subjects.
- Usually in US/Canada, eight weeks into the term is when we have our midterm exams, or perhaps it’s our wake-up call.
- Back in Canada, we had about 3 hours of lectures and 1 hours of tutorial per week. During tutorials, a PhD or master’s student would do a few questions on the blackboard. We copy it down on our notebooks and feel good about ourselves.
- Here in Sweden, we have tutorials in computer labs. The Teaching Assistant would walk around helping us solve assignment problems.
- Man! The professors here are very friendly. Sven Andersson, my Internal Combustion Engine professor, likes to be addressed as Sven, and he just waved at me through the window.
This is what my class schedule typically looks like (see, lots of Fika opportunities):
However, be careful with what you wish for. It is very easy to turn your calendar into this… (I will explain next time)