Friday, 18 April 2014

Everything will be different.

And another week went by with me ignoring this blog.


I feel this quote is so appropriate- the reason I feel I can't blog is because it's so hard for me to keep track of what is happening. I think the first weeks back in Germany/Scotland will probably be really sad and annoying, trying to process what happened these last months.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Studying. UK vs US


Coming to the US to actually study here at a University was one of my dreams- I never thought I would actually do it but here I am. There are so so many differences between the University systems and between the two schools I have been to- some are hard to adjust to, some are not really noticable.
Something I want to say before you read this comparison: Both of the schools are pretty small with the student body being around 6000 students. QMU in Scotland is probably very different to the University of Edinburgh, that has around 25000 students. It is not really representative for Scottish Universities and neither is St. Edward's like any other American college. They are both pretty special schools and I love them both very much. They were the right choice for me, even though I never thought that small and personal classes would be the right fit for me. I find it actually nice that the teachers know my name and where I'm from. Another thing is that my course (film and media, or communication here in the US) are pretty modern and fun classes and not as serious or stressful like law or science for example. So keep this in mind when reading this!


Scotland (UK)

USA


Assignments

We have around two/three essays per module per semester and then maybe an exam at the end. We have to keep up with reading during the semester. My uni relies very much on independent studying, doing your work in your own time and being responsible for what you do.


Loads and loads of stuff. Homework for almost every class, reading, presentations with every project, field trips, exams, ... it never ends! It feels like high school, there is attendance taken in almost every class, they micro manage you a lot. I have the pleasure of taking quite interesting classes, but generally the system requires you to take a bit of everything until declaring your major. Thank god I don't have to do that!


Daily life

I live in the beautiful city cente of Edinburgh and the campus is around 40 bus minutes away. I have classes maybe around 8-10 hours a week but attentance is not really taken, so it could be much less. Therefore, I have time to find a job, chill, meet friends, do other stuff. It feels much more relaxed and independent. It gives you time to "have a life" that does not just revolve around uni.


It feels like school is my main priority here. It probably should be like that anyways, but let's be honest. Student life should also be fun. Living on campus and having so much work, I always (try to) finish my uni work and then do other stuff. What makes life hard as an exchange student in the US is not having a car. You are pretty mich stuck on campus. The bus system in Austin is fairly okay but does not help when you want go somewhere off the route. I have accepted this and built my life around my friends here, doing stuff with them and then going out on the weekends with them. Doing stuff on my own is not part of my life here, which is very strange in a way.


Exams

I hate exams and I find them really hard. Studying for it is not so much about learning dates and facts but about understanding the relevant issues and developing a critical standpoint.

Here, most exams are multiple choice. So you don't really need to understand anything but just study until you know everything from the top of hour head. SO so different from home and not really my preference either.


Atmosphere & Community

QMU has it quite hard. The newly built campus is outside of Edinburgh and even though we have a Student Union with a bar and events and so on, very few of the students are actually taking part. Living on campus is mostly for freshers so they are almost the only ones on campus when classes are finished for the day. You wouldn't just meet up on campus if you live in town, which makes it really hard for any sense of community to develop.

This point is very dependent on the different schools, but community is a big thing here. The US is full of campus Universities, with no big city around. Everything revolves around campus life, the bigger schools have their own police, shops and so on. Creating a community is one of the main priorities here, with campus events, school mascots and obviously sport teams, school pride, getting T-shirts for every event... typical American. I love it, it makes it so much easier to meet people and be part of something.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

What I am missing here.



I am really looking forward to Einburgh and living there again this summer, but most of all I mis this:

1. A proper cup of tea.
2. The freedom to take busses everywhere.
3. My own kitchen, my own fridge. COOKING!
4. Going grocery shopping.
5. Opening a window (we can't open the window in our room. don't ask)


At the same time, I am terrified for this semester to end. A month is left, then school is over. I will never be here again with the same people, living just down the hall from everyone, going out to 6th Street like it's nobody's business, always craving Tex Mex and Margaritas.
Makes me so so sad to think about this.


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Texas Hill Country Roadtrip

Texas Hill Country Roadtrip | My new trip on Roadtrippers.com!



This was our route for our road trip through the Hill Country. It was beautiful and especially during Spring all the flowers are starting to blossom all over the area.  
For the first time ever I properly used the Lonely Planet guide for Texas (this one, the new one just came out this January)- we even used all their restaurant recommendations, which is something I never do. I always want to find my own places and don't rely on the 'hype' of the travel guides. Anyway, it was just easy to figure out dinner plans and it worked out really nicely- all the restaurants were pretty good and met our expectations.
My favorite little towns were Boerne and Gruene.
I don't have pictures of it because we bought a little waterproof throw away camera and I haven't developed them yet , but we went river rafting/tubing on the Guadelupe River in Gruene/New Braunfels and it was a.m.a.z.i.n.g.
It was super hot, a little bit windy and the river was beautiful. We rented equipment from Rockin R and it was just the perfect day for it. We took beers and snacks, tanned, watched those ugly turtles on the river, got stuck on rocks and swam. It was like a dream, let me tell ya.

It was a perfect weekend getaway and I'm still dreaming about it.


Monday, 7 April 2014

road trip #3 Bandera

Bandera is the so called "Cowboy Capital" of the World and because some of our friends already went I kind of knew what to expect. We just spend the afternoon there, browsing the shops and having a beer in the bar with the red door, the Silver Dollar Saloon.
We all danced two step with a Cowboy and then left for Boerne, the town where we stayed over.