Broaden Horizons by Studying Abroad

By Samantha Corr

It’s been almost a year since I studied abroad at The University of Glasgow. I figured I could illustrate what it is like taking classes and studying in a foreign country. Who knows, someday St. Joe’s dorms could give the school a chance to provide these same experiences to people overseas.

Experiencing diverse college environments is important, especially for students at St. Joe’s, because you really do learn differently in various environments.

At SJC we have very small classes where the professors all know who you are and, at least in my experience, have less lectures and more class discussions.

Larger universities function very differently. At the University of Glasgow, we attended classes in lecture halls that could fit about 500 students. Once a week, we would have smaller seminars with maybe eight of us, where we could discuss the readings and lectures.

We would meet for our classes three to four times a week for an hour each meeting, which seems similar to our class schedules here. However, classes at the University of Glasgow run for an entire year. Meaning you would take part one in the fall term and then part two in the spring, so instead of having a final, it is essentially a midterm before Christmas break. The most interesting distinction is that a full-time course load is only three classes a semester in the UK, as compared to our course load of four to six classes.

I really felt like students who study in Europe have a much better quality of life, because they have more time and energy to focus on their studies. We live the American lifestyle of working hard and always remaining busy, and this carries over into our education as well.

Especially now, just before finals week, I am noticing how much work each of my classes requires. I have term papers for each of my four classes and my senior thesis, so I am struggling bouncing back and forth between them — a sentence here, a paragraph there. I don’t know where to focus or how to focus anymore. And now I am thinking that just maybe these European schools are onto something…

Another major difference is the diversity. At the University of Glasgow, an international university, there were people from all over the world. I lived in an international dorm, which was such an amazing experience. Most of my flatmates were from China and there were a few Americans too. We all had fun teaching each other about our cultures.

I also met people from all over Europe some  became my best friends who I hope I will get the chance to visit later this year. Even getting to meet many of the other Americans was fun, because people came from all across the country. My other best friend was from Tennessee. We also made friends with people from Colorado, California, Florida and North Carolina, and some from as far as Australia and New Zealand.

No matter where we came from, we had so much in common: wanting to explore the world, learn new cultures, try new foods, learn each other’s languages, visit each other’s countries. My flatmates, friends and I loved teaching each other to cook our favorite meals. Though most of the time they ended up being the teachers because I am a terrible chef and could only share my pasta recipe.

I hope that more people will get to experience the same cultural diversity that I did because it was really a wonderfully enlightening experience.


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