After being back in class for a little over a month now, I’ve started to realize just how different it was studying abroad. Granted I wasn’t in a traditional university (our program was in partnership with Foundation for International Education), there are some things that I truly miss. Sure, many claim that studying abroad is easier, but in reality it’s a bit more difficult.
I remember when I was a senior in high school and a few teachers would tell us that once we got to college it would be two exams and a paper and that was your grade. Well maybe it’s just Drexel, but that statement was false. We still have reading quizzes, little assignments, a plethora of presentations, papers and exams depending on the course. Is it a bad thing? I don’t know. London however was exactly what I had been told the entire college experience would be. We had a few papers and maybe an exam and that was it. Sure, it sounds nice in theory, but it means each assignment has to be your best work.
I enjoyed that method and since being back, reading quizzes make me cringe (even though I actually do the reading) and having weekly graded homework feels weird. Again, it isn’t that I don’t want to do the work, it just feels weird to be doing something to prove that I spent time learning material that I need to know to succeed anyways.
I’m a firm believer in experiential learning and discussion. A HUGE part of our time in London was spent visiting various places, trying foods and learning about the culture and topics by actually experiencing them. Sure this doesn’t apply to every course out there, but for the courses I take most of the time it can work.
Again, this isn’t to say that one method is better than the other, it is simply to point out that different styles work. Unfortunately, weekly field trips to go visit stadiums, try foods, explore museums, etc can get expensive and so it’s something I just need to do on my own time. But having classes focused on insightful discussion isn’t a huge thing to ask for (ok maybe it requires people to actually participate).
Maybe I should just become a teacher so I can do things my way….. Or possibly not..