College in America Vs University in England (Seven differences)

I study Chemical Engineering, and I am only taking Chemical Engineering modules at UMD. So the differences listed below are based on what I have experienced. (It may be different for other courses at UMD).

1.Everyone writes in pencil here! Over the past few weeks, I have realised how much I cross out with pen and waste so much paper.

Let me tell you a funny story. In one of my classes, I decided to take notes on paper using a pencil instead of pen. I had to erase something, but I did not have a rubber in my pencil case. So, I turned to the person next to me and asked quietly if I can borrow her rubber. She stared at me weirdly, and obviously I was confused. What did I do wrong? Oh, maybe she didn’t hear me I thought. Hence, I repeated myself “can I borrow your rubber?” and pointed at the end of her pencil. She gave it to me like she didn’t want to give it to me. For the rest of lesson, I was just baffled. My next class was in the same room; I sat next to my friend and I told her about the awkward situation. She burst out laughing! I was even more confused. She immediately went on her phone and showed me a page on urban dictionary: “ Rubber: (American English) a condom, (British English) an eraser”.

Now it all made sense! From then on, I am very careful on what words I use, yet I am still curious if there are other words like this!

2. As a chemical engineering student, you are expected to be good at unit conversions.   As a US chemical engineering student, you are expected to be good at unit conversions both in imperial and metric system. The conversions that my Year 7 teacher told me to memorise have finally become useful.

3. I feel like I am back at school! We get homework every week, and they get graded and count towards your final grade! (There is no such thing as catching up/cramming for exams during the holidays here :’) ). Also, during the semester, we have mid-terms and presentations to do… so you really have to be on top of your work. One of my friends said that a lecturer said, I quote: “if you’re not ahead you’re behind”.

4. In most UK Universities to achieve a 1st class you need to obtain an overall grade of more than or equal to 70%. Whereas to get a grade equivalent to a 1st in the USA, so an A+, you need to obtain an overall grade of 94%. I have realised when I was studying at The University of Manchester, I was not aiming for perfection, I just wanted to get a good understanding of the topic and be able to answer questions. But here, I am driven to be a perfectionist. My work ethic has changed because of the different criteria.

5. You are allowed to bring your dog to class here! (If the lecturer and all the students in the class are okay with it). In my Protein Engineering class, most of the students are dog lovers, so we’ve had at least someone bring their dog to class a few times so far this semester!

6. I assume that Universities all over the world take cheating in exams or homework very seriously. In my opinion, I feel like UMD are a little over the top with “academic dishonesty”. For every mid-term exam or quiz I have sat, as well as writing my name and module on front of the paper, I have had to write “I pledge on my honour that I have not given or received any unauthorised assistance on this examination/assignment”.

7. Being a chatterbox is fine in the US! You get credit for it. It counts towards your final grade. At the University of Manchester I am used to having 80% of my final grade being based on my exam and 20% based on my coursework. Whereas at UMD, (it varies from class to class) the grades get weighted as: 30% final exam, 20% homework, 20% midterm, 20% presentations and 10% participation.

People have asked me which education system I prefer….  during the start of the semester I said I liked the UK system as I am used to it. However, now that I am half way in, I am starting to like this system; I have immensely improved my work ethic and time management because of the consistent stress throughout the semester. Moreover, it has made me into a perfectionist which in my opinion is a benefit in the workplace (let’s get them bonuses!). Best of all, I do not need to spend this year’s Christmas break revising aka cramming for January exams (except for one distance learning module). #onemonthoffreedom

My 3 Greatest Lesson(s) from Studying Abroad (Final Reflection)

Finally, my last day in Maryland has passed. It was pretty sad to see Maryland and not knowing when will be the next time I’m going to see it again – McKeldin library where I spent days revising for exam and doing my assignments, the stadium where we cheered for Maryland and getting super excited when we smashed Purdue on a football game, seeing Stamp building for the last time where so many memories were made…. Time flies too fast.

It wasn’t an easy semester at all. There were so many times I wished I didn’t even bother to go study abroad, but now I’m happy I persevered through (that’s for another blog post that’s coming soon!). And for sure, there were so many lessons that I learned through studying abroad. Here I’ll talk about my 3 greatest lessons that I learned in Maryland.

Continue reading “My 3 Greatest Lesson(s) from Studying Abroad (Final Reflection)”

Final Reflections

By Grace Clarke (Psychology, University of Maryland, United States)

As I come to the end of my time in Maryland, I can safely say that I can look back on my year with such fond memories and with a huge smile. Despite the natural ups and downs of the year, I am extremely sad to be saying goodbye to my friends and the place that I have been fortunate enough to call home for the past 9 months. Continue reading “Final Reflections”

The Difference Between Semesters

By Grace Clarke (Psychology, University of Maryland, United States)

After travelling the States for a month over winter break, and saying goodbye to a good portion of my friendship group (who were only here a semester), I have to say I was slightly apprehensive about my second semester at Maryland. Continue reading “The Difference Between Semesters”

Wrapping Up the First Semester: My Highlights

By Grace Clarke, Psychology, University of Maryland, United States

I want to start by saying that this semester has been a blast! I have met some amazing, crazy and inspiring people, many of whom I know I will be friends with for a very long time to come. Continue reading “Wrapping Up the First Semester: My Highlights”

Five Pieces of Advice for Future Students

By Grace Clarke, Psychology, University of Maryland, United States

I am going to keep my next couple of blogs fairly short, and as useful as I can to those of you who are thinking about applying to study abroad, or to those who have already applied and are waiting to hear about whether they are going (good luck!!). Continue reading “Five Pieces of Advice for Future Students”

My First Few Weeks in Maryland

Grace Clarke (University of Maryland – College Park, U.S.A)

My first night spent in the US was pretty luxurious. I had a hotel room to myself, ordered room service, and slept in a king sized bed. Then after arriving on campus, having to drag my overweight suitcases to my hall and up the stairs to my dorm, I was swiftly brought back down to reality. To add to this, the temperature was uncomfortably in the thirties, and the humidity was unbearable. Continue reading “My First Few Weeks in Maryland”

Pre-Departure – Looking Back

Grace Clarke (University of Maryland – College Park, U.S.A)

So after months of preparation and piles of paperwork, the countdown to leaving quickly went from weeks to days, and before I knew it, I was leaving my house for Manchester airport. Continue reading “Pre-Departure – Looking Back”

My Experience Studying Abroad – A Year On

By Madeleine Taylor (University of Maryland, College Park, USA)

I honestly cannot believe that it has been almost a year since I left Maryland and College Park. My time studying abroad sometimes feels like it was all a dream, and when it doesn’t it certainly feels a lot more fleeting than it actually was. When I think about it in relation to my whole three years at Manchester, the six months I spent abroad seem like a minuscule slice of time. But somehow those six months have managed to represent some of the most prominent and enjoyable of my time at university.

At first settling back into Manchester was a little difficult, not only in terms of academics, but also in terms of simple things like remembering the bus numbers I could use (which was especially challenging as a new route had been added to the Magic Buses, which I soon found out the hard way). But after a few weeks everything returned to normal, which kind of scared me. With each passing day my experience abroad and the things it has impressed upon me seemed to be fading as Manchester became normal and familiar again. But of course nothing had faded, it had just fallen into the background as I returned to a previous norm. I find myself impacted by my experiences abroad almost every day whether that is chatting with my long-distance friends or having a different perspective on US news. I wouldn’t go quite so far as to play into the cliché of ‘it has fundamentally altered my world and changed me as a person’, but my time abroad has definitely had a positive impact on my everyday life and aspects of myself. For example, before I went abroad I was quite shy and not very confident within myself. While these two traits didn’t disappear completely, whilst abroad I definitely learnt to overcome some of the barriers of my shyness and am a much better person for it.

And now here I am, mere weeks away from graduating for good (gulp) and I couldn’t be more delighted about the choice I made to study abroad. I’ll be seeing my old roommate this summer (I am so excited), and two of my classmates are coming to visit so that I can return the favour and take them on a European adventure.

All the best to anyone embarking on study abroad in the future,


Pre departure thoughts for UMD

By Gavin Dunn (University of Maryland, College Park, USA)

Well, it’s a few days before I start my trip to the University of Maryland, College Park, and to be honest, it hasn’t hit me yet. I’m definitely nervous, but being back in Manchester to finish work has really got me thinking I’m going to be starting my second semester here. Generally, most of my ‘to-dos’ on my to-do list have been crossed off, but I still feel so under prepared. With alternative assessments taking up the majority of my time over Christmas, there hasn’t been much time for anything else!

Overall, this exchange has been around a year of organising. Applying to the International Programmes Office in Manchester, being accepted. Applying to the University of Maryland, being accepted. Applying for an American visa, being accepted. A lot of paperwork, a lot of time, but finally I am now preparing to go. My thoughts are now on how I’m going to cope with America East Coast winters. With temperatures going into the minuses I think I’m going to need some boots, a big jacket and obviously the trusty Manchester University bobble hat we’ve been given.

I guess I’m nervous about a few things. Being away from my friends and family for the longest time in my life. Moving to a country that I’ve only visited once before. Sharing a room with someone I haven’t met. However, this is an opportunity that I won’t ever get again. I am excited to actually visit the country I am doing my degree on, but I think there will be a culture shock. I’m definitely going to have to get used to their slang like pants being trousers, biscuits being something completely different, even the spelling. But these things will come in time, I’m just going to have to go out there and do it!

The next time you hear from me I’ll be in the big U.S of A!