Today marks the end of my second week of new classes for the Spring semester. With these new classes I am reminded of how different schooling is here than Temple. As I discussed in a previous blog post (https://templeuabroad.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/english-academia-the-opposite-of-it/), two of the biggest differences are the inclusion of “formative” assignments and the much larger amount of reading to do each week. In addition to these two disparities there are two more which have surprised me.
Courses, not majors
Firstly, people here do not have “majors” instead they have a “course.” At Temple, a major signifies that you will be taking a lot of classes within that discipline, but various other electives and general education classes provide students with a well-rounded degree. Students of the University of East Anglia mostly follow a strict outline of courses that are focused on their area of study. For example, a person getting their engineering degree from UEA will only take engineering-based classes and take the exact same classes as all other engineering students. No general education requirements, no history, no electives, no mosaics!
Due to the fact that I am not taking a set “course” here and have three very different classes… I have run into some small issues. Most people in my classes already know each other, because they are in the same “course.” At Temple, there is always a good chance that you will not know a single person in a new class, but that usually leads to making new friends since everyone is in the same boat. It is slightly intimidating the first few days of classes to see so many of my new classmates already sitting, chatting, and laughing together. Although it is worrying, class discussion and group work slowly helped me break into the already formed social groups!
University, not college
Secondly, a big difference about education here is that what I am currently attending is not “college.” All of the UK students have already completed something called “college” before coming to UEA or would have prior to going to any university. After completing high school, which ends around age 16, students have the choice of being finished with schooling or going onto college. For those two years of college students tackle various coursework and exams that lead to “A-level” qualifications. After the completion of the qualifications, such as “A-levels,” students move onto universities. The whole system is much more complicated than my explanation, and there are many elements that I still do not fully understand; however, I have certainly learned that it is incredibly different from the educational system of the United States. Hopefully throughout the remainder of my stay, I’ll understand this system even more.
As always I am picking up on new words:
Cuppa: Cup of tea of course! Even though it’s a combination of the words cup and of this term is specifically about the tea. No one would ask if you would like a cuppa and be referring to a coffee.
Lorry: a big carrier truck, like an 18-wheeler.
Cozzy: short for swimming costume, or as most Americans would know it as…a swimming suit.
Zed: pronunciation of the letter ‘zee’.
Ta: shorted version of thank you.
Here are some more scenes from the university which has been my home for the past 4 and a half months: