Culture Shock: Classroom Edition

England

Culture Shock: Classroom Edition

January 25, 2017
by Michelle McGhan
 Walking in the sunset at the Marylebone campus!

Culture shock. This is the first place I experienced it. Ruthless students and different grading systems; the classroom is where students from around the world will experience it the most. When I first arrived at the University of Westminster, I heard from almost everyone, "the academics in London are extremely hard." "Punctuality is quite important. Being on time is being ten to fifteen min early." Although this is true for the British academic system, that doesn't necessarily mean they apply to all classes, professors, and students. 
 Regent Street, Westminster

Basic Academics 

The grading system is on a seventy-scale, meaning that a forty is passing. Not only is that very different from our standard system in the United States, the way that you do homework and assignments are entirely up to you. In one of my classes I have both seminar and lecture readings, but the other doesn't have any reading. It really depends on the class and the lecturer. They also won't hold your hand like they do in the US. When you get assigned reading, they expect you to have it read along with critical thinking and being ready for discussion. 

Although punctuality is important, most students come in right at the dot. Not to say you shouldn’t be early but one time I was five minuets early and the teacher wasn’t even in the room.

 The cinema attached to University of
Westminster's campus!

Language & Speaking

London is filled with a variety of ethnic groups and races meaning that your professors may not be from Britain. They could be from Belgium, Turkey, or India. 

The way that they speak, in general, is quite difficult to understand. Although speaking the same language, they don't necessarily speak the way that people from the United States do. Their vocabulary is extensive; the words that you look up in the thesaurus for your essays will be used to disseminate the information. 

The Students

University of Westminster offers you to take 1-2 modules that are for study abroad students only which is quite nice. So far, my two classes have offered me great friends and definitely new experiences in London, but the modules where you may be the only American can be quite intimidating. 

In one of my courses, I am one of four international students. The students are a little standoffish but that's also because in this specific module, the students have all been together since year one. Every class they do for their program is together which makes it hard to infiltrate and be friends with the students.

The students are also quite ruthless. They don't really raise their hands and they banter and bicker with the professors (or with each other). For those who aren't used to it, it's scary. Other students may yell, curse, shout, argue with those around them or to the professor. That's the way that they just are as although it's scary, nerve wracking (because if I did that at my school, I would be kicked out of the course), it's definitely a delightful dose of culture shock! 

 Regent Street Campus. Outside

Michelle M. is a Fall 2016 CEA MOJO in London, England. She is currently a junior studying cinema art & science, concentrating in directing and post-production and minoring in photography at Columbia College Chicago.
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