The difference between Slovenian and Canadian universities.

Yesterday I had a one-on-one consultation with the professor for my Information Culture and Subcultures class. The course focuses on how subcultures use technology for aesthetic or political purposes. Unfortunately, this class conflicts with another class, Sociology of the Arts, which I'm obligated to take, since it's kind of my "speciality" and I traveled 9,000 kilometers just so I can register for it.

In Canada, students only visit their professors' office if they have a question or a grading problem. If students cannot take a class because of a scheduling conflict, well, then that's too bad: you just don't register for that class. However, my faculty (and presumably the other faculties) in Ljubljana allows students to meet with the professor if just such an occasion arises.

So what does this all entail? I arranged a time and date with the prof, and then I met him in his office. We basically sat and talked about photography, lomography, Barthes, Benjamin, various subcultures (skinheads, post-Glasnost Russian art, Japanese sex clubs), the distributive power of the Internet and the low-tech movement.

This was such a unique opportunity, I have to say. Or write, in this case. I was treated like an equal rather than a subordinate. The prof assumed I had something interesting to say and I actually possessed knowledge in my subject. We discussed my final paper and some possible topics for it. In conclusion, this is what graduate students in Canada experience, not undergraduates. Now why do you think that is?


pengovsky said...

Dunno about Canada - or other Slovene faculties, for that matter - but my experience at FDV was that you are on your own to find a subject that interests you. If you dediced to go that extra mile, the prof was there to guide you through it. But noone tells you that when you start. You just have to figure it out. Most people at FDV don't, since they're there only pass exams.

But if you really want to research a subject, most profs are more than happy to devote some extra time. And at some point they say something like "I wish there were more students like you on this faculty".

When I was preparing my final thesis, my prof Tone Kramberger was more than happy to meet me (usually during consultation hours, but also via mail), and when we met face-to-face we talked about everything, usually devoting a mere 15 minutes to my thesis :)

Jay said...

I got that impression, too. There are no set guidelines for students, and the profs I had generally just shrugged their shoulders when I asked about topics. Which is cool.

In Canada, especially in the first two years as an undergrad, students are given a list of topics to choose from rather than having students come up with one. Some profs do have the come-up-with-your-own-thesis option, but it's usually at the bottom of the list. ;)

Yeah, we spent a great deal of time talking about Canada and Slovenia. I was worried we wouldn't get to my paper!