The first week of classes this semester at Aberystwyth are officially completed. So, for those who are more curious about the “study” part here than the “abroad” part of my semester, here is a brief view of what classroom life is like in Wales.
To start, I’ll just quickly explain the difference between credits and schedules here versus back at Purdue. At Purdue, credit hours work typically in variables somewhere between 1 and 5 credits per class. Here at Aber, a class (known as a module here) will either be a 10 or 20 credit course. What we were told was that a 10 credit here is roughly 3 credits back at home and a 20 here is roughly 5. Students at Aber must take a minimum of 60 credits per semester, much like we must take a minimum of 12 at Purdue. Luckily for me, Purdue credits apply to me here so I am currently signed up for 40 credit hours although I might add 10 more soon.
The schedules here are not set as a constant for each week either. At Purdue, I could print off my schedule the very first week of classes, and it would be the same thing every week until the semester ends. Here, I have to check my “time table” every week because sometimes classes are cancelled or there will be labs added to certain weeks. The other slightly confusing thing about the schedules is that they don’t put the module name on the time table, only the number. So basically, this whole week I showed up to classes labeled things like BR30310 and had no idea what I was about to be learning until the professor started talking. Every time I went to class this week was a surprise. The last huge difference between Purdue and Aber with schedules is the time and room consistency. As most know, at Purdue you could have a class MWF or TR or another set variation and it would be at the same time each of those days and typically in the same room every time. Here at Aber, I could have a course on Monday at 9 in one building, then have the same course again on Wednesday at 1pm in a totally different building. This again added to the element of surprise all week as I walked into every class.
The modules I am taking this semester are Animal Reproductive Physiology, Animal Breeding, Advanced Equine Nutrition, and Zoo Sciences (For those who don’t know, I am an Animal Science major).
All my courses seem really interesting based off my first week. My professors all have nice english accents and all seem passionate about their subjects. Almost all of my classes are less than about 50 kids. This is nice because I feel really comfortable if I need to approach my professors, but it is also intimidating because now I stand out as the confused exchange student.
While the first week of classes has gone smoothly, I would say that I do have some concerns. From talking to people from Wales who have gone abroad to America, they consider us to be “spoon fed” at our universities. By this they mean that we get a lot of busy work to boost our grades and we get a lot of reminders to do what needs done. Here, there is a huge independent aspect to the learning. Professors give you the names of books and articles at the library and they expect you to go read it and learn it on your own. The classroom is more for discussion and what the book doesn’t teach you. The other thing that is a lot different is that here, a class grade is typically composed of 2 papers and thats it. From talking to students here, they grade papers pretty tough and it is typical to average around a 50% on an essay which here is about a B/C range. As you can tell, I am not much of a writer, especially not in a brand new essay format so… wish me luck with that!
Other random cool things about my classes are that I get to go on a field trip to the zoo for my Zoo Science class which should be fun. I also have lab next Friday where I get the reproductive tract of either a mare, ewe, cow, or sow and basically get to dissect it however I want (then write a 2500 word paper worth 50% of my grade on it!!!).
That’s about all I can think of so far with only a week of classes behind me. Hopefully as it goes on I learn to adjust to the classroom/teaching style a bit more and also find the motivation needed to do all the hours required outside of the class!
This is probably going to be my only blog dedicated solely to my classes here, so if you have any burning questions about my studies feel free to ask (this goes to you parents and adults)!!