They’re more like guidelines anyways!
When I made the decision to go abroad to a school in the heart of the big city, I knew I would end up being busy. But I definitely underestimated just how hectic city life can be. I grew up in relatively close range to San Francisco, so I was somewhat familiar with city life. My distance from SF was a safe one, and it forced me to be selective about the times I spent there. But that all changed when I moved to Glasgow- where it’s easy to feel like you’re missing out on something due to the sheer amount of happenings and all the nightlife hype. And let me tell you- it’s not hard to get yourself right in the middle of it. Glasgow is often referred to as one of Europe’s main music capitals, and it’s so apparent with the amount of buskers (street performers), over 130 music events in the city per week, and just a culture hub for the arts.
I’m really excited to say that I’m officially writing for the Culture section of Glasgow University Magazine! Which is one of the reasons I’m able to get such an inside scoop on what’s going on around the music scene here and I can’t think of a more intimate way to get to know the city I’m spending such a short time in- a city I have only 8 weeks left in to explore.
So you can understand why my writing has been so sparse the past couple weeks! It’s the fourth week of classes, and things definitely picked up quick here with the amount of reading, seminar exercises, and weekend adventures. So I’ll take a little time to talk about the school time of things here at Glasgow Uni.
I’m getting a huge range of academic experiences here because I’m in four separate classes, each with completely different types of students. My English Literature class is 1A- meaning that everyone is a fresher and just beginning their university experience. 1A classes typically meet three to four times a week with an additional seminar to supplement the lectures. My Sociology class is level 4- meaning that I’m learning with third and fourth years. This class meets pretty much once a week for strict lectures and a ton of reading to supplement the bi weekly seminars. My Scottish Culture class is one that is specifically reserved for international students. It meets bi weekly and is full of non-Scottish students. My Creative Writing class is affiliated with the Centre for Open Studies at Glasgow University. Basically it means that the class is open to everyone in the community, regardless of whether or not you are a student at Uni. So I sit in class with many people who are three times my age or even younger than me but already a published author. It’s a really humbling experience because it gives me a different perspective on the educational system.
Now that that’s out of the way… I’m sorry- I kind of hoped you skimmed all that. But as far as differences go between the US and UK system (at least at GU), I’m realizing that there’s a lot more room here for the student. What does that mean? Well, if you read anything about going to the University of Glasgow, or ask anyone about the experience-they’ll tell you that it’s a whole lot more independent. Which is definitely true- but I feel like that explanation just touches the surface. Yes, there are lectures, yes, there’s assigned reading, and yes, you are held accountable for certain assignments- just like in the US. But the strictness about which readings you do, and the direction that the lectures take you in are up to interpretation. It’s up to the student to follow up on lectures, and take the initiative on what kind of research they want to do to fulfill the class requirements. My seminar teacher put it in really understandable terms: “The level of knowledge and analysis given in lecture is something that you should aspire to- not a level that you have to reach that night at home”. I found this really helpful when I went to make a study plan, and when I was taking notes in lecture. It let me figure out what I was interested in, and made me realize that I could make my own path when it came to studying. The lectures are meant to give you a baseline- and the assessments at the end of the term are more open and the student can demonstrate what they learned on their own- versus in the US where we’re given a template we have to fulfill and it’s much more cookie cutter. That being said, it’s way harder to just skate by here because in the end you have to have a well-rounded presentation of your knowledge instead of knowing exactly what you’re supposed to be learning for that multiple choice exam.
I hope this is all making sense! On a lighter note I was doing some research and found this lovely Buzzfeed article: 25 Reasons Glasgow is the Gayest City in the UK. I have to admit- it’s pretty true