By Sophie Black (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada).
So If I am honest, the four days I have had back at UBC following Christmas at home have been dominated by one emotion: stress! The modules I was originally registered on turned out to not be my kind of thing, so the task of trolling through pages of courses to try and find ones that fit into my timetable and aren’t already full is quite a challenge. It would be easier if there wasn’t so much choice! The ability many of us exchangers have in choosing modules from pretty much any subject is a fantastic opportunity to delve into new topics, yet at the same time can be a little overwhelming. I would definitely recommend signing up for five courses, trying them all out and then dropping the one you enjoyed the least.
Initially, UBC seemed very similar to Manchester – yet as the weeks go by it is clear they are both very different academically. Today was the first day I had a lecture in a proper lecture theatre – last semester, all of my modules were taught on classroom levels. This means interaction with lecturers and (in most cases) pretty quick feedback times when you hand in essays and exams. I’ve had no modules with a tutorial or seminar included, which means a more chatty, relaxed and friendly atmosphere with the lecturer is somewhat hard to come by. Teaching styles have varied a lot – one lecturer last semester used an old-fashioned school projector and didn’t put anything online… Yet compare this to another module whereby I took part in online discussions with students at the University of Singapore and the University of Western Australia!
Agreeing with Sarah’s post, there is definitely much more work to do here at UBC. Consistent readings, midterms, essays and final exams means there is no break – especially in the first semester where there is nothing like reading week. Be prepared for this jump! Nevertheless, the work does seem easier, plus coming to UBC with a seemingly higher standard of essay writing skills than equivalent UBC students means essays and exams are marked highly.
As a final point – the highlight of my academic time here at UBC is the campus. It is absolutely beautiful, with fantastic views of the mountains, lots of green space and wonderful gardens. The leafy green walk along the pedestrianised ‘main mall’ to lectures is going to be missed when I go back to the long old curry mile!