Intellectual life and learning environment at UBC

By Joe Gaskin (UBC, Canada)

Although it might not be the main reason why you’d choose to study abroad, the actual studying aspect is still very important. So, I thought I would write this entry just to explain what it’s like studying at a completely new university and to show that the ‘studying’ aspect of ‘study abroad’ isn’t all that bad!

To begin with, there were quite a few differences in academic life at UBC and in Manchester. Firstly, the whole setting of lectures was much different to what we’re used to at Manchester. The majority of my lectures were held in classrooms rather than lecture theatres. Of course this sometimes meant that there would be way too many people packed into a relatively small room so you’d always have to arrive to class early. What this also meant was that lectures were naturally more interactive with the lecturer and your class mates. Class discussions would be regularly had and we’d regularly be doing group tasks within a lecture. This differed from Manchester as usually a lecture would consist of the lecturer talking and the student just taking notes. This format meant that there wouldn’t be any seminars however, so a module would consist of 3 hours of lectures a week (usually split into 2 or 3 sessions). The classroom environment would also be very relaxed, exemplified by one of my lecturers bringing his dog to class every day and just letting it roam around.

Courses at UBC usually had added expenses. Most had compulsory textbooks that cost upwards of CA$50 but I found that they weren’t referred to enough during the courses to make them worth it. Also some courses required you to buy clickers to participate in class questions and these cost around CA$40. So it wasn’t always as simple as just turning up to class in the first week.

In terms of the learning environment at UBC it was very similar to Manchester. There was plenty of working spaces at various libraries and working commons as well as study spaces within the student accommodation. This was great as it created a good environment for everyone to go and do their work whilst also having a good social aspect as you were guaranteed to always see one of your friends studying there as well. The one difference was that UBC is a campus university and so everything you needed was within a short walking distance. Within five minutes of leaving your room you could be at your lecture (which led to me leaving many pieces of work to the very last minute).

Overall, I found studying at UBC much more relaxing and I think this might have made a bit more enjoyable and engaging. I certainly got less stressed over my studying, then again, stress didn’t seem very ‘Vancouver’ anyway.

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