By Giulietta Grassi (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)
So I have been in Vancouver for three months now, and I still can’t believe it! Three of the most amazing months of my life. It definitely has been an adjustment, living so far away from everyone you love, getting used to the time difference, and finding your way completely by yourself. However, the biggest thing I think I have had to adapt to is UBC’s academic and school structure.
The workload here is really different compared to Manchester. I always assumed there wouldn’t be much difference between Canada and England, but there really is. I, and many of my other international friends here, have found that UBC’s workload is much more than our home universities’. When talking to the others from Manchester, we all agree that the workload here is much bigger, but the work itself seems to be easier. I am still trying to decide which I prefer…
In Manchester, as an Anthropology student, I usually have some readings and a few small tasks a week, followed by a big essay or two every two weeks/once a month. Whereas at UBC I have big tasks usually every week and much more weekly work and readings as a whole. I have definitely found this challenging to adapt to, but I have loved having this challenging. Yes, it has been difficult to keep on top of, trying to travel and do as much as possible here, but as geeky as it sounds, I have liked challenging myself.
Another thing I’ve found is that participation in class makes up part of your grade here. At first I was so scared by this, but now I actually like it… I like being forced to have my say in class – it makes me really think about what the class is about, and the aspects I am interested in. I have definitely done a lot of mumbling, going red and being flustered by questions that I’m expected to answer, but afterwards I have loved the feeling of having my say and giving my opinion, no matter the reactions. I feel like this way of learning is really stimulating and has really made my class experiences much more enjoyable.
The academics here has definitely been the biggest change for me from Manchester. Keeping up with constant work, rather than just the usual big essays. Although I am still unsure as to which way of learning I prefer, either way I feel UBC’s way of learning has taught me alot. I know that I’ll be coming back to Manchester with much more confidence (I hope) and much more willing to put my hand up in lectures and have my say. It’s taught me to speak out.