Home > Blogs > Robert Study Abroad, Spring 2007 > 11 February 2007 - Now the work starts

11 February 2007 - Now the work starts

Posted by admin on February 11, 2007

Classes started almost a week ago. The class schedule is so different here. Class periods are 1h 45min long. Thankfully, they are actually split into two 45 minute sections with a 15 minute break between the two. So in effect, each class here is like having the same class for back-to-back hours at ISU. As a result, we cover a lot more material in a given day than at ISU. I'm on-campus at the Aerospace Faculty anywhere from 9 hours (on Monday's) to 4 hours (Thursday/Friday). This past Monday was pretty long, and it felt great to be back at the apartment that evening. It reminded me of working this summer. The days when I'm not on campus as long can still feel pretty intense. At a minimum, I have the equivalent of four ISU classes each day. Luckily, all of the classes are in the same building and they are all grouped very close together. No more hiking across campus to Ross for history, only to return to Howe an hour later for an engineering class.

Nearly all of the instructors I have are amazing. The one exception is my Thermodynamics of Gas Turbines instructor. He's drier than toast and discusses a topic to death. On Thursday (the first day of that class) he spent an hour comparing the operation of a jet engine to that of a piston engine. And he didn't even have any unique insights or anything like that to offer. He just has a knack for over-explanation.

But every other instructor is great. I was worried about what their English-speaking ability would be like, but those worries haven't materialized. Although they all have accents, their English is excellent.

The instructors are also doing a great job of explaining the material. I'm taking about 16 ISU credits over here, and they are nearly all technical classes. To add to that, I'm attempting some of the third-year courses even though I haven't completed the prerequisites. Prerequisites aren't taken too seriously, though. The philosophy is that if I can take the class and pass the final, it doesn't matter what I have or have not previously taken. I think I have my work cut out for me, but I'm confident that I can pull this off.

Here's the list of what I'm taking this quarter (5 February - 23 March):

  • Flight Dynamics I
  • Dynamics & Stability 
  • Linear Algebra 
  • Vibrations of Aerospace Structures 
  • Thermodynamics & Compressible Aerodynamics 
  • Thermodynamics of Gas Turbines 
  • Sustainability for Aerospace Engineers 

The sustainability class appears to have a lot of potential. The course topics will be focusing on environmentally-friendly engineering, which should be pretty interesting. I'm still a little leery, though, as to how propaganda-ish this class will be. Our second lecture seemed to be an extended sales pitch, rather than something educational. I haven't given up hope yet, though. And regardless of what the class turns out to be, I think it will be an easy class. Easy credits are always a good thing...even if I have to sit through propaganda to get them.

Switching gears a little bit...

Six of the ISU students went to Den Haag (The Hague, in English) this past Friday afternoon. Just leaving the Delft train station was an adventure in itself. One of the ticket agents was in a very entertaining and talkative mood, so it took forever to get business accomplished with him. I have to admit, it was entertaining, though. Especially when he introduced us to the rail discount card. Nick decided to get one, and then spent the better part of 20 minutes trying to get the application taken care of. The worst part was getting the photos taken. Apparently there's a photo booth in the train station, but all the instructions are in Dutch. Nick's first attempt to get a picture gave him a massive Polaroid...and the application needed a passport-sized photo.

Eventually all six of us had our tickets and we got on the train to Den Haag. The ride was only about 15 minutes. Once we arrived, we started to wander around. As we were checking out a mall we came across a book store and spent a lot of time browsing around in there. They had a large selection of English books, something that isn't easy to find in Delft. I walked out of there with Next by Michael Crichton (which was excellent; I read it yesterday) and then explored the streets of Den Haag with Nick and Wade. The other three had coffee at the book store and then did some wandering on their own. Nick, Wade, and I found our way to a Pizza Hut, where we decided to have dinner. The pizza was pretty good, but eating it with a fork and knife (because that's how it's supposed to be done in Europe) felt ridiculous. We made it back to the train station for the last train back to Delft. This was only 7 pm, but our tickets were only good for day-trains.

Hopefully we'll get to spend a full day in Den Haag in the future. I've heard from other students that it's pretty cool to see the embassies and government offices. Plus, we have to go through Den Haag to get to the beach.

I've spent today getting stuff caught up around the apartment. I've gotten stuff cleaned up in my room just in time for another week of classes. I'm sure that my desk will be cluttered before next weekend.