So it’s been a good three weeks since I’ve been living in London and I have so much to say about how different the American daily life is than the English daily life. I never realized how much different their terminology for certain words and phrases were. I knew things would be different, but I’ve compiled a list of things I’ve noticed and just general observations about life here in London. I have a lot to say about some things, so I’m just going to start off with the schooling differences in this post, and cover other areas another time!
The equivalent of America’s “college” here in the UK is called “Uni.” If someone refers to college here, they are actually talking about their high school(ish) experience called Sixth Form. The levels here are:
Nursery- like our pre-school
Primary school- like our elementary school, but ages 5-11 (so, up to our 6th grade)
Secondary school- a mix of our middle school/high school, roughly grades 7-10
Sixth Form- this is like high school, but only the equivalent of our grades 11 and 12. But the weird thing… they call this college! So confusing.
I also now know that “uni” only lasts three years here, and English schooling obviously never uses the terms freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior. Once in uni, they call first year students “freshers,” as I have mentioned before, or just “first years.” The next two levels are just called “second years” and then “third years”… the terminology is definitely not as fun as America’s. I think there’s more meaning and pride when you get to finally call yourself a “senior” rather than a “third year.” But that’s just me.
When it comes to classes here, the class size and lectures are actually very comparable to the ones I’ve experienced in the USA (some smaller, some larger lecture sized), with typically the same teaching methods by professors using PowerPoints, encouraging class discussions, leading a general lecture. However, there are a few big differences such as class length and assessments. Each of my classes only run once a week, but they last three or four hours each. Luckily, all my teachers are nice enough to let us have a 15-30 minute break in the middle, so I end up going back to my flat and getting a snack to last me through the rest. I’m really lucky because my classes are held in the two buildings literally RIGHT next to my flat building, so it’s only a 2-3 minute walk… score! As for grading, the teachers only have two or three assignments scheduled for the entire term. For example, my media class is only graded on an essay plan (1200 words, 30% of my grade), and the actual essay at the end of the term (2500 words, 70% of my grade)… and that’s it! Attendance doesn’t really factor into my grade (to the best of my knowledge) but all my teachers make us pass around a sign in sheet each class so maybe there is a penalty if you miss. However, it’s not really explained in the syllabus (or “module booklet” as they call it).
Also, when it comes to buying books, most classes use so much more online material for students to access and print if they want. Only some classes require one larger textbook to purchase so that’s good that I don’t really have to spend much money on books like we do in America!
Because class only meets once a week here (for the most part, there are some exceptions), it is expected of uni students to put in more individual study time outside of class to review and do the readings. I found that the homework assigned is definitely heavier than they assign at UNCW, but that’s also because we cover more in one class period because it’s longer. I haven’t decided yet if I like this English way of only having class once a week (with more homework), or if I prefer the typical American way of meeting twice or three times with shorter classes and less homework. I’ll figure that out pretty soon I guess. After all, it’s only the second full week of school!
A Little About Roehampton:
I haven’t really fully gone into detail about Roehampton yet, so I think it’s fitting to add a little information about it on this post. Roehampton University is London’s only campus university, and was also voted one of the most beautiful campuses in England, which is completely understandable when you come and actually see it! My pictures don’t do it justice, but there is a beautiful old building towards the middle of campus called Grove House, which dates back to 1792! It is used more as an administrative building now, but I walk by it all the time to get to the Student Union and also get a pretty view of it on the way to the gym. Campus also has a few really pretty ponds with ducks always hanging out there. Squirrels are EVERYWHERE and scare the crap out of me sometimes when they dart out across the walking pathways. Raleigh and I have also spotted a fox before! Needless to say, the campus doesn’t lack wildlife because the wooded areas and other vegetation host a lot of different animals.
Campus also has a decent amount of places to eat on campus, including Starbucks, Costa (another popular chain coffee shop), Trattoria (a pizzeria), Peri Peri (chicken place?) and a few other spots. Howveer, students here do not have meal plans so everything gets paid for out of pocket. I honestly have barely eaten at these places because I buy a lot of food from Asda and make easy meals in my apartment. It’s probably healthier that way… and cheaper too! (I really do miss my meal plan though… and all-you-can-eat dining halls!)
The Student Union is one of my favorite parts about this campus. It’s a gathering place for everyone during the day, and especially at night. There are couches, a pool table, TVs, and a mini stage for some live entertainment every once in a while. Most importantly, it’s where the bar is (haha)! I think I need to go there more often on nights I find myself sitting in my room with not much to do (kind of like this one acutally). We’ll see!
Other campus facts:
About 8,000 students go here, and the girl to guy ratio is something like 75% to 25% (not in my favor, unfortunately). Campus is 54 acres! It is divided into four “colleges” which are basically sections of campus. I live on the Digby Stuart college and we are the lions, sporting the colors blue and yellow. It’s funny to have intercampus rivalry instead of other rivals outside of this uni. However, two of my classes are on the Frobel college part of campus, which is literally right behind my building so I don’t really understand why they even divided it. The other two colleges are called Whitelands and Southlands. Everyone who lives on the Digby Stuart part of campus likes to occasionally sing a little fight song which basically repeats “I’m Digby til I die!” The beginning of Freshers week had a lot of that singing spirit. Roehampton is really well known for its education and dance programs too.
Here’s a great link to some awesome images of campus, if you’re interested and want to see a little more:
So that’s a little bit about how school is different here. More posts to come about other daily observations!