Don't get me wrong, I am not talking about the academic level of studies here... I don't like to make generalizations, I can only talk about my experience... I go to the best school in the country, studying Applied Mathematics and Physics. It's a polytechnic school, so it is a 5-year degree. (undregraduate studies are 4-year long in Greece) In this five years you have to take and pass 63 classes! 12 math classes, 4 physics, 3 labs, 6 programming classes, 4 mechanics(I am not sure if that is the right word...) and 6 humanities classes are obligatory for all in the first two years! Then you choose a direction: Applied Math or Applied Physics. I chose the second and I had to take another 30 or so physics classes! I think that's a lot more than what a physics undergraduate has to take in the US, so I assume the level of undergaduate studies in Greece is high! Also, I know that the content of most of my physics classes is the same or more advanced than yours...(Many professors who studied in the US have told us this...)
With this description, you would think that Greece has an amazing education system! Well, it doesn't! There are many reasons for this, I can only name a few. First of all, class attendance is not obligatory, except for lab classes! This may sound strange to you, but the majority of my classmates never come to the university during the semester! They only show up on exams! They have the books and they find out what the professors taught by the few students who actually go to class, and they just study before an exam! Since we don't have mid terms, tests, term papers or any kind of test, the majority of Greek students only study every six months! Of course, you cannot pass a class like that, that's why there are what we call 'The eternal students', students who take years and years to take their degree! The ones who manage to graduate have a lot of 5s on the trancript cause cramming and cheating on an exam can only take you so far!
Then there is the complete disorganzation of the system... Class dates, exam dates etc are never anounced more than two wekks before the actual event! You don't know when classes start, when you are supposed to be having an exam or being in a lab class! I don't know if it is because we are Meditteranean and all, but this is too much! Why is it so hard to plan and organize the semester in Greece, when it is done in all other countries? I still don't know what is the reason of this!
On top of everything, the facilities suck! The university building are old, in bad shape, dirty and destroyed! This is really sad, but true... There is just this culture among the students ( or lack of culture!) The smoke in class, drop the ashes on the desks and then throw their cigarettes on the floor! They drink coffee in class and they don't bother if they spill it... Seriously, I have had to change seats many times, because there was a sticky coffee stain on the desk! Any of you had similar experiences?
I know this may come of worse than it actually is, but I am a little upset since I haven't had classes for the last 2 months! I am a senior and I want to graduate on time, but I probably won't... The students have taken over the buildings of over 300 university schools in a way to show their dissagreement with some changes the goverment wants to make in the education system! Not all of the changes are good, but many are needed, in my opinion...
Anyway, this is the end of this rant!