The semester is finally drawing to a close, and I don’t know what’s worse: having to leave Scotland or having to take exams.
The truth is, my exam week isn’t necessarily harder than my finals week at Hope. It’s just different. First off, Aberdeen’s exam schedule starts with a review week. During this week, students attend “review lectures” where their professors go over material for exams. There aren’t nearly as many classes during this week, so we’re able to get a head start on studying and writing. Then, finals last for two weeks instead of one. Luckily, I’ll have everything completed in just the first week, so I don’t have to stick around for the second. However, the thought of studying, writing, and packing during this week is beginning to stress me out.
I was excited to find out early on in the semester that I’d have two papers and one exam. As an English major, I’d much rather write an essay than study for a test, so I was able to crank out my two papers pretty quickly. Also, I received an A4 (which is basically an A on the American grading scale) on my first essay for my Shakespeare class. Therefore, I wasn’t worried writing my final papers for Shakespeare and Linguistics.
All that’s left, then, is my Religion exam. I’m a tad nervous, but the professor has given us a lot of preparation, including terms to describe and essays to prepare. Also, the exam is going to be online, so I can literally take it in bed. Not a bad finals week if you ask me.
So that’s it! That’s the end of my academic career abroad. I’ve finally adapted to the British education system, so I don’t know how I’m going to feel once I get back to Hope. The biggest difference I’ve seen between Aberdeen and Hope isn’t necessarily the amount of work due but the schedule of work due. For example, a class at Aberdeen evaluates students with maybe two papers and a final exam. Lectures are also recorded and put online, so students aren’t required to come to class either (Don’t fall into this trap!). Hope, on the other hand, has quizzes, reflection papers, and projects due almost every single time you go to a class. I think this set-up keeps you more accountable and responsible; therefore, I think I’d probably say I like the American academic system better.
However, I’ve learned a lot about myself through taking classes abroad. Receiving a high grade on my Shakepeare paper just solidified my belief that I’m in the right major. My prof even said it was one of the best papers in the class, and to hear that when studying in a new environment and using a totally new writing format means a lot. I think the independence given to students in the British academic system also taught me how to be more responsible. Believe me, there were times when I skipped classes just because I could. However, I quickly learned that doing this wouldn’t benefit me in any way. I had to make myself attend lectures because I only get to study abroad once, right?
Please tell me I’m not right.
But honestly, I do think most of the things I learned this semester come from outside a lecture hall. Sure, I absolutely fell in love with Shakespeare because of my English class, but nothing compares to learning from hailing my first cab in London’s theatre district, climbing cliffs in Cruden Bay, and exploring the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.
If only I were being tested on that stuff on my final exam. I’d totally nail it.