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Q&A with London Program Director on Study Abroad in England

As some of you comb the Internet, digging for useful information to help you decide where to study abroad, we thought we'd ask our Study Abroad Program in London Director, Harriet Clement, to answer some questions.

  Do I have to speak proper English? (Really!)

Well, unless you are meeting the Queen you should get by OK! You may find that people are sometimes more formal in the UK, we like to say please and thank you and excuse me. London has such a vibrant mix of people from all over the world, I would say it is harder to find someone who does actually talk without using any slang or localisms. If you do happen to bump into Lizzy at Buck house, just bow/curtsey and keep quiet!

Will the courses be harder?
The UK academic university system may appear to be a breeze - no weekly essays, no in-class tests, no ‘pop quizzes’ and generally no midterm exams. Grades are given in percentages and teaching is delivered by lectures and seminars.

However, not going to one or two lectures usually can mean your work will suffer. One important aspect to remember is independent learning is a critical trait in the UK education system. Classroom contact hours are minimal, students are expected to use their free time to research their subject area and complete the required readings independently. Assessment for modules varies and in most cases, students will have to submit two assignments for each module towards the end of the course. The majority of English Universities do not use multiple-choice exams and critically questioning ideas are imperative in assessments and reports. Sometimes, one’s entire grade will depend on one or two written assignments.

With this said, as long as the student does not lack discipline, self-direction, and proper time-management skills, then courses in the UK shouldn't be so difficult to tackle. Just remember that it is an education system that encourages students to learn how to think and that University policies are strictly followed.

  Does it always rain in England?
Hmm, not as much as people think! The main problem is the grey drizzle that can be very miserable. In the winter it will rain a fair amount, but by the time spring comes we usually escape with just a quick shower. Of course, this is always on the day you just visited the hairdresser….my advice is to always carry an umbrella and a pashmina, that way you are always prepared for the changeable weather. And another thing, British people LOVE to talk about the weather, so if you are ever stuck for conversation it’s a good place to start.

What is blood pudding?
Better known as Black pudding, this is to some a delicacy. The pudding is in fact a sausage made up from congealed pigs blood, oatmeal, seasoning, fat and onions. YUMMY! Although I am not a fan, a lot of people really like it, I guess the only way to find out is to try it yourself.

Best part about living in London is ___!

This is a tough one as there are so many things that make living here fabulous. I would say the fact that London is made up of so many little villages, meaning you can be on a really congested shopping street one minute, then turn a corner and be in a park or down a secret alleyway. The city is full of surprises and even having been here most of my life it’s easy to find something new every day. The different types of people are really interesting; in one pub you can find businessmen, students, artists, and people speaking every kind of language and attempting to speak English. There is such an atmosphere and so many free things to do, most galleries and museums are free, but do donate a pound if you can to preserve this tradition. Oh, and CEA has a program here, that is one of my favorite things as well!

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