I am sorry to say, but I cannot agree with the common opinion that all Erasmus students pass the exams, that teachers turn a blind eye on them, that they don’t have to study as hard as the host University’s students, etc, etc… At least not in Salamanca.
Evidence? Well, I have quite personal evidence, I mean I haven’t passed one of the exams, namely Complementos de Analisis Matematico that turned out to be completely different from what I had thought it was going to be. To make it worse, we had only the lectures and no tutorials; the teacher was of the old school and assumed that all of us were fascinated by topology, differential calculus and manifolds at least as much as him. Some course statistics:
- During the first week of classes, there were about 30 persons in a lecture theatre.
- Later, the number of students attending the lectures was steadily decreasing and eventually reached 8 units after a few weeks (and I was the only girl in the class!).
- Out of these thirty-something students matriculated for the subject, nine or ten attended the exam and only two have passed it.
My grade was 3 (the marking scale is from 1 to 10). To pass you need to get a 5. Well, I was close to it. The rest of my subjects went very well, with me getting 5, 9, 9 to my grades collection.
Now I would like to share my observations about the education system here in USAL, particularly about the exams procedures.
- Tutorials as such don’t exist. You simply attend the lectures and if you are lucky, some of the classes are divided into Teoría and Problemas.
- The older the teacher, the more probable it is that they will give you a hard time and expect you to know completely everything about the subject to pass your exam.
- Generally, female teachers explain things much better than the male ones and give you a more enjoyable time during the class.
- Hand-outs are either in Fotocopias (copy shop) or (seldom) online on Studium (WebCT’s equivalent) and you have to print it out yourself.
- 24-hour computer labs with printing facilities? Excuse me, what do you mean? Yes… Unfortunately, all you can expect is to be lucky enough to use Aula de Informáticas when there’s no class being given (few hours during a working day). To cheer you up, I’ll add that there’s Wi-Fi in the university area.
- Past papers are rarely given out to the students. In most cases, you get to know the exam’s structure just after you arrive at your exam.
- On your exams you’re given several blank sheets on which you write your answers. You should also put YOUR NAME and your ID/Passport number. Writing an exam anonymously? Forget about it.
- What I have learned is that you have to answer the question and beyond to get a full mark. I’ll give you an example. If your question is: “Cauchy-Riemann Equations”, you should answer by giving the equations’ definition, any theorem associated with them and a proof of the theorem. Other example: “Advantages and disadvantages of Systematic Sampling”. The correct answer is to list the pros and cons along with a mathematical proof to each of them (if applicable) and write examples illustrating them. In short, it’s your task to work out what your teacher had in mind.
- Exam duration. I am not sure, because I was always leaving within 2 hours after the exam had started. Usually, you are given at least 3 hours to write. Your lecturer is present at the exam and if you have any doubts, you can ask them without any problem.
As you can see, it’s quite different in here and all you need to do is simply get used to the rules.
Weather news. It was snowing yesterday and the temperature during the day is constantly below 0. Brr!, where is my scarf?