Time is flying. Between this time last week and today, I submitted one more final paper and finished an exam. Currently all that’s left between me and hopping on a flight out of this town to start my Christmas break is one more final. Just one more final. A few more days of studying at school and 4 hours stuck in a room letting all the info I learned in those final days show on paper.
It has definitely been an interesting experience. This time of the semester that is. Like some of you know, I finished my Bachelor degree in 2010, and aside from the GMAT in the summer of 2010 and the American Citizenship test consisting of three questions later that year, I haven’t been under the pressure of a test since graduation. And it’s funny how it all comes back to you: thinking that some kind of “future” depends on a stupid grade, which It doesn’t really, but right there and then, it sure seems that way.
Overall though, I feel like things in Norway are done quite differently than in the US. Some for the better, some for the worse. Below some of my thoughts:
1) Finals week is not really one week:
It’s more like one month. Yup. For example this semester classes were done end of October/ first week in November, and while some exams started in mid November, most exams are still in progress and will continue until the week before Christmas. And that’s one of the biggest differences I’ve noticed. You start the stress period thinking it’ll all be over soon, but my stress period (while not continuous) has been going on for the past four weeks, and I’ve got the chocolate wrappers and the pimples to prove it. The only positive is that you usually have some time between your exams or due dates.
I admit it. I’m one of the weird ones. Except for one time in my life I don’t ever remember sitting up past 10pm to study, and most nights I was honestly done by 8pm. My mind just doesn’t function after a certain hour. And I know most people are different. In the US people were at the library for forever, but if you think some students in the US are crazy, you haven’t met those in Norway. During the examination period the library offers extended open hours, but honestly those don’t compare to the regular opening hours in the States. BUT what the school here offers are study halls that are open 24-7, and those, man, those are crowded at every hour of the day. People literally camp there with their little jam jars and toast bags and coffee cups and make their mini sandwiches while working on the next economic model. Most of the students even take their shoes off to make themselves feel more comfortable and wonder around school in their socks. Gotta love the casual life.
3) Grade divisions:
In the US, your course grade is usually divided between at least one midterm and a final and possibly even a group project and a paper. You rarely see an exam being weighed more than 50% of the grade, which I honestly appreciate. Here, things are done differently. Most of the courses I encountered have one exam that weighs 100% of the grade. And in order to be able to take that exam, there are 1-3 assignments that are pass/fail, which means you put in the work but don’t get the benefits out of it. OR wait, the benefit, is being able to sit in the final. FUN! Some other courses have a 30% term paper/ presentation of some sort and a 70% final, which I like a litte better, but even then, those two show up as separate grades on your transcript, so they’re technically treated as two courses that are weighed differently.
4) Grading system:
You know the good ol’ days when if you didn’t get an A, you hoped for an A- or a B+ etc. etc. Well buddy, you’re outta luck in Norway. It goes from A, B, C, D, E to F which is Fail.
And while they lie and tell you that A=Excellent, B=Very Good, C=Good, D=Satisfactory and E=Sufficient, you shouldn’t really believe them because at the end of the day I think this is a more truthful representation of the grading scale:
E= It’s basically a fail.
F=Why are you even here, buddy?
Next time: The experience of taking a final exam in Norway.