Last week's activities did not prepare me for the onslaught of academic work this week. We had our first set of classes yesterday. The morning class (from 9.00 am to 11.30 am) in Environmental Science of Natural Environments and the next (from 1.00 pm to 3.30 pm) in Environmental Law and Policy. Both courses required that we do substantial amounts of readings prior to the classes. This is just a small preview of what we should expect from this programme. Luckily today it was just one class in the morning on Natural Resource Economics.
Having said that, it is important to point out the merits of reading widely (which is what is encouraged academically in the States). It gives you a much broader perspective on any given issue and encourages critical thinking whilst generating healthy debates. It has been mentally exhausting at this beginning stage (and I find that the other international students feel the same way), and presents many challenges in terms of assimilating new terminology and learning new ways of thinking.
The challenges however, make it even more interesting for me, inspite of my present difficulty in calculating chemical equations and in econometrics. The wonderful thing about the system in US universities is that they make things easy for students. There are always newer and better ways to make the academic experience enjoyable (student-friendly really) and easier. I expect that at the end of nine months, I would have recorded considerable growth and added to the knowledge and experience I acquired in my two years at Wits university in Johannesburg.