Are you even going to school when you study abroad?

Jane Swingle
January 21, 2016

Studying abroad has two components, doesn’t it? Study abroad. I think it’s pretty clear that I’m taking advantage of being abroad, but perhaps you question my current degree of academic commitment. Possibly to your surprise, I am actually going to school here. Though my last post makes it seem as though I am frolicking around as a tourist all day every day, I have successfully completed my second week of classes in London. I am enrolled in four IES Abroad classes, which are taught by various local professors at the IES Abroad Center for IES Abroad students only; this process is quite similar to my experience at the IES Abroad Nantes center in France last year, though this time it’s waaaaay easier to understand what those professors are saying! Those classes are Mondays and Tuesdays for me, which makes for a rather short school week. No complaints here! However, next week I’ll begin my Thursday class at City University, where I’ll have the opportunity to be plopped into a “real” British university classroom and experience British academic culture. While I’m a bit nervous about being an outsider with different background experience than my fellow students, I’m mostly eager to start my City class. My course is a communications-sociology hybrid that studies contemporary challenges in new media, which could prove to be wildly intriguing…at least that’s what I hope for. 

As I expected based on my past experience studying in Europe, the overall structure of my classes follows a less strict pattern than that of American university classes. First, the professors expect less of students on a week-to-week basis, meaning there is little “homework” to turn in regularly. On the flip side, though, the professors do assume a substantial deal of independent study on the part of students, including reading, note-taking, and preparing for mid-term and final essays. Most final course grades are derived from very few (usually two or, if I’m lucky, three or four) components of the course. A lot of pressure on a lil bit o’ stuff? Yep. Yikes. Luckily, London is full to the brim with cozy cafes, coffee shops, and book stores with aesthetic appeal that’s sure to help me focus while studying…right? Discovering new study spots are one of my favorite ways to simultaneously be productive and explore the city, all while enjoying good food and drink. Wondering about how the notoriously dull British food is treating me? More on that to come in my next post…  Cheers!

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Jane Swingle

<p>I am Jane from Janesville, Wisconsin. &nbsp;I study communications and French at the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota, but I like to spend as much time as possible studying abroad. &nbsp;One day, you&#39;ll probably find me living in Paris. &nbsp;If you can&#39;t find me there, you must not have searched all the boulangeries.</p>

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