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)



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.


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.

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