The Beast from the East

Hi everyone,

Due to a couple of stressful weeks of classes, I haven’t gotten to posting in a while, so I have some catching up to do. Over the past few weeks, Scotland has been hit by a couple of snow storms. Although there was never more than 2 or 3 inches of snow on the ground, most of Aberdeen seemed to have shut down.

“The Beast from the East” is what the larger storm was called. It lasted about 3 days, and campus-wide emails were sent out warning students of the adverse weather. My personal favorite email included a diagram advising students of the safest way to walk in icy conditions: like a penguin. Transportation in and around the city was also affected, “stranding” one of my flatmates in Berlin and one of my friends in Madrid.

Limited by the buses not running on some days and others by my own reluctance to face the cold, I was kept inside to study and work on schoolwork almost all of that week (which was probably for the best).

Then, right when the sun had returned and the snow left behind by the Beast from the East had melted, “The Pest from the West” arrived. Similar to the Beast from the East, the snow on the ground never accumulated to anything greater than 2 or 3 inches. Still, cautionary emails were sent out and transportation shut down. (I think it is safe to say that Aberdeen may not be as accustomed to winter weather as West Michigan.)

Though I may have complained about the storms here and there, all in all, neither were too much of an imposition. In fact, being locked inside to study reminded me of an important aspect of studying abroad that is sometimes overlooked in conversations with students that have gone abroad: the studying. Though I am having tons of new experiences and seeing many new places, I am also having to stay on top of schoolwork.

While my course load is not too different than it would be were I a typical second semester Junior back home, the courses here are structured and assessed much differently than those I have taken at Hope.

I have enjoyed the courses I have taken at Hope, but I am also grateful for the opportunity to experience classes that are formatted differently. Though this most likely does not hold true at every foreign university, I find that at Aberdeen there are a lot less (but larger) assignments than there are at Hope. There are pros and cons to that, because less assignments means every grade has a significant impact on your overall course grade. I am also finding that the majority of my courses are not taught by only one professor. Most of my courses have three or four professors alternating who gives a lecture. There are also pros and cons to this.

There are a number of other differences that I am adjusting to, but the point is that there are pros and cons to every style of teaching. I am, however, thankful for the chance to see these new styles of teaching. I believe that being exposed to different ways of teaching is helping me figure out how I learn best, and I think that I will return a better student than I left as a result.


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