I came abroad to UNSW for their tailored term 2. As a result, I had an intensive course that only lasted 4 weeks and I chose to take Introduction to Sydney Environment.
Some main differences I have noticed in Australia is the grading system. The average grade is about a 65 with 50 being passing and anything above 80 is highly unlikely. As for the Australian teaching style, it is a lot less formal and more laid-back compared to teaching in America. For example, teachers prefer to be called by their first name and prefer a more conversational form of teaching rather than a lot of slides with words on it.
This course focused on the physical, biological, and social environment of Sydney. Prior to coming to Australia, I was constantly told about all the dangerous animals here. Within this course, I learned about all of them and to my surprise, rarely any deadly attacks occur. For example, there has not been a deadly spider attack since 1979.
Another important thing I learned about Australia is they have a lot of environmental issues. When I initially arrived here, I realized places are a lot more environmentally conscious. For instance, you will never receive a plastic cup, all restaurants serve small ceramic glasses. Also, everyone grocery shops with reusable bags, never any plastic. I had thought because of how aware industries are here, the country as a whole was environmentally friendly. However, I was taught differently. There is a lot of air pollution due to a lot of the bush fires and there is also a drought that impacts all the different landscapes.
This course included a field trip to La Perouse, a significant historical site on Botany Bay. Botany Bay is where the initial landing of Captain Cook occurred prior to the development of the penal colony. Indigenous Australians lived in La Perouse and Aboriginal cultures developed here. Aboriginal culture is considered the oldest surviving culture on earth. This was a unique experience for me to meet a member of the Guriwal people and learn about her culture. A lot of Aboriginal history has been erased and never really discussed within Australia, due to the fact that the history of Australia is told from the perspective of the British.
The tools and different methods used by Indigenous Australians continue to be used today. They properly used fire to make healthier plants grow. They also used a plant called “Finger Lime” to develop different jams for toast and desserts. Learning about their history has helped me understand how Australia started prior to colonization.