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Observations on attending a British University - HowTo.co.uk

(EMAILWIRE.COM, April 08, 2009 ) Attending British Universities has never been as popular as it is now. They are cheaper than most American Universities of the same ranking, so even US citizens are coming to the UK. However, the UK and it’s university system can be confusing, complex and more than a little frustrating.

If you choose to study in the UK, most universities will begin your induction with some type of orientation activities. However, don’t be surprised if they have none at all. There isn’t a standardized practice for how to treat International Students so don’t expect all colleges to treat you in the same way. It’s best to place your expectations to one side and enjoy the difference between your expectations and what you experience. This open mind will allow you to enjoy things much more fully. It’s hard to enjoy something when you have expectations that do not match your actual experiences.

One Subject One Student

Generally students in the UK follow a single subject pathway called a Single Honours Degree. If they wish to study more subjects, these are called Combined Honours Degrees. So a student studying Single Mathematics will generally only study Math-related subjects. This is very different from the US equivalent where students will major in one subject but also study many other varied subjects at the same time. The British system feels it allows for specification, the US system provides diversification.

The Empty Timetable

One of the first things that you will notice with regards to your studies is that your timetable will look very empty. Many students see this as a sign for total party mode to commence. However, British University education is not cheap and you could easily squander your tuition fees and stipend on beer and take away food.

The timetable may only include three lectures and a couple of seminars but that’s the style of education that you have chosen. The remainder of the time is meant to be your opportunity to read around the subject, prepare your coursework and engage in the full university life. This freedom is a great strength of university life in Britain. You can use this to explore areas of interest that occur to you during your studies.

Drinking Culture

You are going to notice something scary. Drinking is a way of student life on a level that you would not experience in other cultures. If you are from the USA or a Muslim country, this will be quite a shock. Student life somewhat revolves around drinking. Activity groups such as sporting groups and all other types of student interest groups usually have a Social Drinking Session or Pub Crawl at the beginning of the year and a Ball or party at the end. Cheap drink flows. If this is new to you, stay safe and go easy until you get acclimatized.

Degree Standard

A British degree still holds gravitas with employers around the world. No matter the course, it is impressive on your resume to have studied at a British educational institution. It shows that you are unafraid of challenges and that you were independent enough to live abroad during your studies.

An Open Mind

Attending a foreign university is a brave and bold move. Exploring a new culture and learning in a new environment or a new language is personally challenging. Try to keep an open mind to all new aspects of British university culture. If you feel homesick, there are bound to be people from your own country to speak with. Otherwise, aim to meet and make friendships with a good range of British people. These new friends will act as your support network if things become difficult and act as guides to this fascinating culture.

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