As much as we all don’t want to admit it, a big part of the whole studying abroad experience actually involves going to class.
While this shouldn’t be a big obstacle to overcome for most international students, the process of selecting your courses in this sort of program is a whole other story.
First of all, when you pick what class you want you’re going in blind, with no idea when it’s offered. Some of the class choices you made back home might have been approved no problem, but you still need to go and get a faculty representative here to sign off on them.
Plus, many courses are only offered for a full-year term, which is obviously a problem if you’re only abroad for a semester.
But that’s okay, it just means that you’re only going to receive half of the credits.
For example, a full 15 credits at the University of Ottawa equals to 30 credits as per the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System. To make that number happen you’ll probably end up taking a mixture of single semester courses which offer 10 credits, and half of full year courses which will only get you five.
Now that you’ve navigated the class selection process and a whole new credit system, it’s time to fine tune your schedule.
For the most part, shuffling around your schedule in the U.K. school system is pretty similar to what you have to deal with in Ottawa. The only problem is that you don’t know when a class is held when you initially pick it, a process that is further complicated by the by the presence of seminars and discussion groups in the curriculum.
But in general, classes here tend to be much smaller than at the U of O—my largest course so far only has 28 students.
As an international student, one of the benefits is that you will most likely get out of writing some of your final exams. Many of the finals for both one term and full-year courses are held during the summer. This means that instead of doing an exam you may be asked to write an essay instead, or at least some other assignment to make up for it.
Classes really aren’t that fun compared to the rest of the things you could be doing with your semester abroad, but they are a necessary evil, like going to the dentist.
Just get them out of your system and you’ll be free to enjoy the real highlights of studying abroad, like bar hopping and sightseeing in a completely foreign environment.