I’ve come to discover that the education systems in the States and the United Kingdom are quite different. Students across Europe begin dropping subjects and specializing as early as fifteen years old. In the States, we usually have until sophomore year of college (twenty years old) to declare a major, that doesn’t necessarily dictate which career field we will be entering. As an individual who isn’t certain about what I want to do for the rest of my life, I am grateful that I have been exposed to all areas of study. I love the liberal arts curriculum at Colgate and it has challenged me to view the world through different lenses. People are often confused when I say that I am studying Psychology at home and Politics and Social Policy in Edinburgh. It has been great being able to use my semester abroad to dabble in other subjects that I am interested in.
In the UK, courses are structured to foster independent learning more so than in the States. In each of my three courses, I am evaluated with a midterm paper worth 40% of my grade and a final exam worth 60%. There is a required reading list and a recommended reading list through which each student is urged to read what he or she finds interesting. At Colgate, the small classes enable each professor to assess each student’s progress more closely through several assignments, participation, and exams. Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages but it has beneficial for me to experience both systems.
Additionally, I LOVE all of the cafes around me to do school work in. I am a regular at the “Aroma Coffee Bar” around the corner from my flat. I even receive a discount for loyal customers. The employees here are too kind and I even just received a mocha “on the house” while writing this blog post. They even add special messages to my drinks like “Smile” or “Enjoy.” It is small acts of kindness like this that make my day.
Stay tuned for my next post about my weekend trip through the highlands and my homestay!