In the week that I have been here, I have learned so many things.
First of all: “Mizzou” is the University of Missouri’s nickname and is pronounced muh-ZOO. It is not sure who first used the word Mizzou, but it was used in the Missouri Alumni as early as December 1905. Mizzou has a diverse enrollment with 35,448 students from every county in Missouri, every state in the nation and 120 countries. So you will hear different kind of languages, accents and meet people from different cultures.
Don’t be afraid of asking for help. At my first day on campus I got lost, because the campus is huge and I only had a small printed map from google, which was not detailed enough. I asked a student for help and she brought me to the next guidepost, so that I could find the building of the International Center.
The first place you have to visit at Mizzou is the MU International Center. The staff helped me with my requested documents, visa form and insurance so that they could put my data into the system. After that you can apply for an email address and faculty ID. They also provide information about food stores near campus, housing, banking, transportation and day trips: things to do around Missouri.
After the official registration Prof. Dr. Johannes Strobel (our USA partner) introduced me to his colleagues from the College of Education – School of Information Science & Learning Technologies. They are working at Townsend Hall, a very old building next to Jesse Hall, the main administration building for the University of Missouri.
The original Academic Hall burned down, leaving only the famous six columns that now stand in the center of Francis Quadrangle. The “New Academic Hall” was completed in 1895 and in 1922, the hall was renamed in honor of retiring University president, Richard Henry Jesse. You can learn more about the university at one of the walking tours on campus.
I have a workplace at London Hall, close to Townsend and Jesse Hall.
In the next days I’ve got the opportunity to be part of a project-meeting sbout writing a research application for a STEM-Education project with a special focus on physical-education. I learned about how important it is to be specific about the concept and approach as well as to clarify achievable goals of your project.
Furthermore, my colleague Prof. Dr. Strobel and I developed a small study on teachers’ perceptions on engineering and teaching engineering. Participants for the study are American pre-service as well as in-service teachers. To create an online survey my colleague introduced me to the Qualtrics Survey Software. I also got in touch with the Qualtrics Mobile Survey Software. This Qualtrics Mobile Survey delivers the features and benefits of Qualtrics Research Suite to smartphones and could increase response rates. But before we could start our study we had to write a research application and wait for a positive response of the Mizzou Office of Research. Research compliance is a complex administrative area and includes research integrity, human subject’s protection (the Institutional Review Boards or “IRBs”), research animal care and welfare, Export Controls, Classified and Sensitive Research, Lobbying Activities, and Conflict of Interest.
In addition I took part at a skype-conference of professors from the School of Information Science & Learning Technologies. They discussed the design and the questions of an annual survey. The college wants to find out how satisfying current and alumni students are with the offered study-programme at the School of Information Science & Learning Technologies and what they could possibly change.
Last but not least: let’s talk about clichés. A few days ago there was a football game Missouri vs. Mississippi, unfortunately Missouri lost. At those days the university goes crazy and sports become more important than the rest. Everywhere at the campus you can see students, university staff and inhabitants of Columbia wearing the colours of Mizzou. And right in front of the football stadium there are many BBQ’s you can go to and talk about the game. It is fun and part of the university lifestyle.
If I had to sum up my experience at my first week, it would be this: don’t take it too seriously. Made mistakes. A lot of them. Every day. Learn from them. Enjoy the new experience. American are friendly and helpful so you will find a way to make it work.
I feel honored and lucky to have the opportunity to study at Mizzou. Stay tuned for many more updates and pictures.