Jessica Tierney is a student at the University of California, Riverside and an ISA Featured Blogger. Jessica is currently studying abroad with ISA in Reading, England.
I think the biggest issue I’ve faced when coming abroad is the way the academics in England differ from back in America. It has been quite interesting to learn how British students study, but to say it was a change of pace would be an understatement.
When studying in England you are mostly doing it independently. Professors trust you an awful lot here to get your reading down and show up to class. Being in Year Three here, I only go to each class once a week. Back in the states I’m going to class at least twice a week for about a little over an hour. In the states we also write so many more essays, take more quizzes, and get points for attending class. The only thing you get graded on here is whatever work is assessed.
Even as I type this it hasn’t been so much of a challenge to adjust to this independent lifestyle, it’s been just that, an adjustment. Anything that isn’t familiar is going to feel foreign, but as I am in a foreign country I would expect to, at first, feel a bit out of place. I think I’ve grown a lot through experiencing the difference in teaching style, mainly because I want to be a positive representative of America, so I make sure to do the reading and show up to class with an idea of what was read.
I only have a week left as I’m writing this and I have two papers due on Friday. After that, I’ll get on a plane to go back to the states and start again at my home university. I don’t think I’ll have a problem going back to the type of teaching that is done at UC Riverside, mainly because I’ve grown so accustomed to the way things are done here and I really think it’ll only help me in the long run.
As someone who recently studied abroad in the UK, I actually really appreciated having fewer contact hours! 2 day school weeks meant I could maximize my weekends to explore more of Europe!
I also really liked the flexibility of working with deliverables (i.e. graded assignments) as opposed to continual assessments. It allowed me to squeeze in alot more travel time and plan my schedule around those few deliverables – instead of being tied down all semester!
But I can see how it could be difficult to adapt to a different school system! Especially since there’s no real compulsion to do your readings and keep up-to-date with tutorials!! (totally guilty of this!)
Thanks for sharing & hope you enjoy what’s left of your study abroad!