8 THINGS YOU ONLY LEARN FROM STUDYING IN THE US

American flag flying in the wind

By Erdoo Yongo (North Carolina State University, USA)

1. You always seem to have some kind of test – whether it is a midterm or pop-up quiz, these are so frequent that after the first few tests you stop being surprised when your professor issues you with a test.

2. You have to submit papers via hard copy – for those of us who are used to staying up all night before an essay is due and submitting it online with only minutes to spare, this is quite a hassle.

3. Attendance contributes to your final grade – most professors take attendance every class to monitor students attendance and usually if students miss more than a certain number of classes, it is deducted off your attendance mark… How fun…

4. Students don’t have seminars – so this means that you will usually have a day (or if you are lucky enough a few days) off each week to sleep all day. But even though seminars don’t exist, professors ensure students don’t fall asleep in their classes by making sure participation in classes contribute to your final grade… Awesome!

5. Students get unimaginable amounts of free things – those of you who thought freshers’ week was the biggest freebie event, you were wrong! American ‘colleges’ give out tonnes of free goodies – pizza, cakes, water bottles, t-shirts – on a (nearly) weekly basis… #Winning

6. Sports is a huge thing – everyone in some way can relate to sports, whether it is watching it, such as football (not what real football is, but a sport similar to rugby), or going to the gym. The gym is amazing, with a swimming pool, basketball courts and places where you can rent out equipment… for free! I never thought I would hear myself say it but, I LOVE THE GYM!

7. Students don’t interact in classes – this is pretty odd because for most of us it is a usual thing to talk to people in lectures.

8. People tend to recognise your accent – this is especially true if you have a British accent. When you speak in class some students look at you as if you grew another head. People notice the accent so much that it becomes strange if someone doesn’t notice your accent.

UBC school life

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.

Why studying in the USA is FABULOUS

By Helen Sheldon (Stony Brook University, New York, USA).

Now my final exams are over, it is time to summarise my academic experience here in NY. This post won’t be full of fancy travelling pictures but if you are considering studying in the USA, this is an important read. It will surely persuade you that studying in the USA is a very, very good choice to make…

Exams finish in December – and this means no revision for January exams over the Christmas holidays!! There may seem a lot of exams in the USA throughout the semester – mid term and final exams seem to span the whole time – however I am now able to fly home and have a Christmas where I can truly relax without the thought of exams in the back of my head! This is a true luxury! It also means I have revision-free time at home to get a big head start on my dissertation that most people complete after January exams throughout the next semester.

Exams are frequent throughout the semester in the USA, but the majority of them aren’t cumulative! This means that there may be two midterm exams for each subject throughout the semester and one final exam for each, but most of these exams may only cover around 9 lectures each, even the final exam! In the UK our exams are at the end of the semester, cover ALL the lecture series, and count for around 90% of our whole unit grade. In the US each exam may count 25-30% and covers only a few lectures. This is another luxury of the US education system that I will miss! The final exams were a breeze in comparison to end of semester exams in the UK!

Extra credit everywhere!! I originally found this hard to believe, but in one of my subjects there was opportunity to gain 10 extra credits for the class. This is 10 extra marks you simply add on to your end total mark. For extra credit the Professor may set quizzes etc, and if you take the small amount of time out of your week each week to do these, the results are worth it! For example I did all the extra credit assignments in one of my classes, and this means I now have over 100% in the course.. Hard to believe when we work our socks off for over 70% in a class in the UK!

If you’re there over the summer period- you walk to lectures in the sun, and leave the lecture in the sun! If there is one thing to bring up the mood as you’re walking to your lectures, being able to wear summer clothes and walk in the heat is one of them! You may think that the sun would put you off doing work as you don’t want to be sat inside missing the heat, however it made me work faster and more efficiently so that I could go out and enjoy the sun! I am not looking forward to the gloomy rain of Manchester that awaits me back home, where I will replace my summer clothes with a rain coat and wellies..

If you study a science, the regulations on laboratory work are very different to in the UK.. Without delving too far into details, the USA are more relaxed on their animal testing regulations in University. This definitely provided me an insight to this field of work that I wouldn’t necessarily have gained staying studying in the UK.

Next to no classes run on a Friday!! I had a three day weekend all semester, and this is a common theme throughout Universities in the USA. I was able to travel much further afield and visit more places on the weekends thanks to my dreamy timetable that gave me Fridays and all of Monday morning and afternoon off!!

If these points alone aren’t enough to persuade you to want to study abroad in the USA, then I don’t know what will!

Academic Experiences in Melbourne

By Dinah Whitear (University of Melbourne, Australia).

So I’m about half way through my semester here at Melbourne University and I’d say it’s about time to talk about the academic side to my exchange here…

Tomorrow will mark the start of my 9th week here at Melbourne Uni, and with only about 3-4 weeks of teaching period left, I’d say this semester has flown by! It actually scared me when someone said to me the other day ‘so you’re almost done here then’, when I said I was only here for a semester, and I guess it’s true! Well, almost done my actual study period – I’ve made sure I’ve left myself a good month and a bit of travelling time here in Australia afterwards so I won’t be jetting back home anytime soon that’s for sure! So for those of you looking to study at Melbourne Uni, you may be interested to know what it’s like and how the academic aspect differs with Manchester. Well, obviously I can only speak for my subject – I study neuroscience back home at Manchester but am part of the ‘bachelor of science’ degree here at Melbourne (I will explain why later) – but there may be some general aspects that apply to your degree too.

So firstly, as I’ve already mentioned, I’m part of the ‘bachelor of science’ degree here at Melbourne. This is an important point to consider because Melbourne uni, like most other Australian and American unis I think, structure their degrees rather differently – instead of having to choose such a specialised degree from the start of your course, you usually only have to apply for a broad degree like ‘science’ and then you will only have to specialise at the later stage of your degree. So, if I were you I’d get in touch with Melbourne to find out what area exactly you should be looking to apply for because otherwise it can get rather confusing!

Another thing I’ve had to get my head around is the fact that their degrees are four years here, and that’s not including an honours. That means their first year here is much like our last year at college before we go to university, their second year much like our first year at university, and so on. This may mean you may find some overlap in the subject matter in the courses you study here in comparison to Manchester but, as I said, this may only apply to my course and I’m not sure what it would be like in other ones. For this reason, I chose to mix and match the level of my course – I’m a second year student and decided to do three second-year level courses here and then one third-year level course. I have so far found this quite challenging, but in a good way. I do feel that when I go back to Manchester I will be better prepared for the demand of work since the third-year courses here are assessed in a similar way to the third-year courses back home; as a science student I am not used to doing many essays, but my third-year course is in fact 80% essay-based. I guess I do feel pretty intimidated by this but am hoping it’ll all be okay with some hard work!

I have found the lectures here a little different to those at Manchester – I think the class size is slightly smaller, but the main difference being the intimacy of the lectures. I was used to having lecturers standing further away in our lecture halls at Manchester (in my classes anyway) – here, however, I find that they are practically on the first row! As a consequence of this closeness, I have to admit that I have found napping in lectures a lot harder! I don’t think I’ve seen a single person fall asleep here at Melbourne! I guess it’s a good thing and has taught me to switch on that’s for sure!

I’d say the assessment, and therefore the workload, is quite different here for my course as well- for starters, I’ve had mid-semester tests, and quite a lot of them to say the least! This has meant that I’ve had to work a bit more consistently throughout the semester, something I have to admit I wasn’t at first used to. I think it works out quite well though as it means there is less cramming at the end of the semester and means you’re probably better prepared. I’ve had a lot of weekly online tests too -something I am used to back in Manchester – but the style of some has taken some adapting to! Here they do things called ‘blogs’, where it’s almost an online forum with several other classmates where you are assessed for your discussion over a certain topic.

Something I have found dramatically different here, though, is practicals. In Manchester, the life sciences subjects are very lab-based. Here, I’ve had a total of 6 practicals in the whole semester, and that really is nothing in comparison to back home! They don’t seem to have a compulsory practical element like Manchester do, unless you specifically choose a practical-based module. It depends what you’re looking for, but for me, I’ve quite enjoyed the fact that I don’t have to do labs so frequently and the ones that I do do are pretty cool! I’m doing an anatomy module and so we’ve been designated four time slots throughout the semester where we spend some time in a dissection room – for me this was a real draw to Melbourne as I wouldn’t have had the chance to do this back in Manchester. I have found it really interesting and am so glad I’ve had the opportunity to do something I wouldn’t have done otherwise.

So yeah, overall, I would say there are some differences, but in general I wouldn’t say it’s too much of a shock in comparison to the academic lifestyle we’re used to back in Manchester – apparently it’s a lot harder for the American students to get used to because they’re used to a different way of learning. The campus here is great though, such a nice environment to be in – more of a campus feel than a city, little bit more green and so much going on all the time! Although the libraries don’t have as accessible opening hours as those back in Manchester, you learn to work around it and the facilities really are good – I’ve had to get used to working with macs, as that’s pretty much all they use here!!

As a last tip, I’d say make sure you have a good look into all the different course options on offer to you – it is pretty important to make sure you find something you think you will really enjoy! Good luck!