A Bison Abroad | The ‘Study’ in Study Abroad

a bison abroad

As much as it pains me to say, studying abroad isn’t entirely travel, food and fun. There is actually a certain amount of studying that needs to be done. I know. It caught me by surprise, too.

I was expecting college (or “uni”) in the UK to be a little bit different from in the States, but the difference in styles is larger than I expected.

I can’t speak for all UK universities, but at the university I am attending, it is standard for students to take three courses (or modules) per semester, although some students take four. These modules consist of three to four hours of lectures and discussions per week, which translates to less hours spent in class, as compared to NDSU.

Sadly, many instructors still want you to do things in your “free” time. You just have to be a bit more independent in your work.

When I heard that I only needed a 40 percent to pass my classes, I almost checked out for the semester. Then I found out that the grading system here is a bit different than at home. A grade of 40-50 is considered below average, 50-60 is average, 60-70 is above average, and if you get anything above a 70 percent, pat yourself on the back: you’re a pro!

Also, there are no weekly homework assignments or quizzes to make sure you are keeping up on your reading (although you might not get much out of class if you don’t), or small periodic papers. Instead, students are expected to work independently, and coursework is condensed into a few larger assignments for each module. There are only three assignments for each of the modules that I am taking.

This results in phases of thinking that I have tons of free time, interspersed with phases of deep regret when deadlines for essays are looming (“Why didn’t I start this earlier?” has become an all-too-frequent question).

University here isn’t necessarily better or worse, it just happens to be different. I’m enjoying the freedom that I have here, but it won’t be all that bad to come back to the slightly more structured system at home.

Rio Bergh is an NDSU student studying abroad in Europe. In his “A Bison Abroad” column, Rio gives his first-hand account of what it is like living in Europe as a student from Fargo. His column is published every Thursday.

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