PRESTON: Studying while abroad


As an English Lit major, I’ve had to spend many days in our local bookstore.

Given that it’s called “study abroad” I figured that perhaps I’d discuss the study aspect of my time abroad. Surprisingly, it’s been one of the hardest adjustments to make.

First of all, there’s the difference between the American and English university systems. In America, we typically spend four years at university before graduating. On the other hand, most English university programs are designed for students to only take three years before graduating. There are no requirements for general education courses either. You pick your major and you only take classes pertinent to it. 

There’s a different structure to the actual classes themselves as well. As opposed to our structure back home of having shorter classes that meet multiple times a week, my classes here last for three hours at a time but only meet once a week. It tends to be comprised of an hour long lecture followed by two hours of seminar. Class sizes are much larger, but because university students only attend classes within their major, the professors do tend to still have personal relationships with their students.

The actual workload is much more focused on independent study rather than in class work or regular homework.  Instead of having daily assignments, the professors just have larger deadlines and expect you to keep up with the material as the course moves along. In each of my classes, I only have three assessments that make up my entire grade. Since I am in upper level classes over here, most students are focusing on their dissertations. The professors recognize this so this method actually benefits the final year students by eliminating busy work. Initially, I was quite excited that there would be no tests or smaller assignments to turn in, but in practice, it’s really intimidating that one paper can be worth 70% of my grade. Luckily, the grading scale is a little different over here, providing students with some additional breathing room.

Over here at the University of Central Lancashire, I am studying English Literature, which is a bit different than my English Writing and Rhetoric major back home. However, since I am in England, it’s been the perfect place to read and study English novels. Many of the classics are set in London or Edinburgh, and after being able to visit both of those cities, I feel like I’m able to appreciate the stories more. 

My classes over here, though different, have been a lot of fun. Yet I think that in addition to studying various academic subjects, some of the main things you learn during your time abroad are life lessons that you stumble across outside of the classroom. Meeting new people, experiencing new cultures, and seeing new sights can easily teach you just as much as any textbook can. 

That being said, I should really start writing the paper that is 70% of my final grade. As my parents love to remind me, study abroad is about a lot of things, but a key part of it is studying. Stay in school, kids.