Studying on Exchange – Yes it does happen

By Lisa Scott.

Having successfully completed by first semester at Queen’s University, Kingston I feel now is a perfect time to write about my academic experience and how I have adapted to the changes between my home and exchange universities. Firstly I would like to mention that I am studying Chemistry and I am in my third year so some of the things I write about will be course specific but others will just be general things about studying at Queen’s University.

Time table: I have roughly 20 hours at both Universities, however lectures here start at 8:30am which is just a little harder to make after a night out than 9:00am.

Lectures: At home lectures aren’t a vital part of my academic experience and all the material covered is uploaded to blackboard. In comparison here at Queen’s I have found I need to attend all my lectures, as sometimes notes aren’t uploaded to blackboard. However full attendance at lectures pays off as the professors will drop hints about what questions will feature on the exams.

Assessment: At home most of my courses are assessed by an exam at the end of the semester worth 100%. At Queen’s each course will be assessed using a variety of different methods, for example I had all of the following assessment methods; Presentations, assignments, Lab reports, Examinations, weekly tutorial quizzes, class participation and practical work. This for me was the biggest change and took a lot of getting used to. However one big advantage of this method is that the final exam will be worth 60% at the most.

Exams: Not only do you have to do final exams but most courses will have midterm exams as well. Also just as a heads up, don’t be surprised if you have an exam scheduled on a Saturday night 7-10pm!

Class size: I have found the class sizes are a lot smaller here, and it is often common for the professor to know the names of all the students. This means you have to be on the ball in case you are randomly asked a question. However it is better to answer than hide in the corner because many classes give marks based on your class participation.

Course selection: Another big difference here is you have to select your own courses and ensure your timetable has no clashes. This was new to me as usually I just get handed a timetable as all my courses are mandatory. There are plenty of people to help you with this process so it doesn’t have to be a scary experience.

All in all I think the moral of studying abroad is WORK HARD PLAY HARD, and make the most of every moment despite those regular deadlines.

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