I was extremely nervous before my first class of graduate school. Not only was it graduate school, but it was graduate school in a foreign country. For all I knew, in England they expected their students to walk around reciting Shakespearean sonnets or give impromptu speeches in the courtyard about the parallels of Ulysses and The Odyssey. (I also assumed they would have an area on campus called the “courtyard.” I think I drew this conclusion from a scene in a Harry Potter movie.)
To my relief, class at Oxford-Brookes University where I did my master’s was strikingly similar to class at Abilene Christian University, where I did my bachelor’s. Of course there was much less class in general, only 4-5 hours a week, and I learned that undergraduates are only in class about 9 hours a week. Most work is done independently, but I got used to it.
While the classroom setting greatly reflected that of ACU’s, many aspects of the UK campus I attended–and probably most UK campuses–were not. For example(s)…
anyone can play sport (drop the “s”) at college who wants to join a team–I tried it. Didn’t go so well (read more).
The words “college” and “university” (uni for short) are not interchangeable. College is a separate education entity,
and the word “school” only refers to what we specify as “elementary school.”
The typical undergraduate degree takes three years to complete, not four.
You’re a “fresher” not a “freshman.”
Dorms are single rooms–no going potluck.
You call your lecturer (not be confused with “professor,” which is a higher level in the teaching field) by his/her first name–this took some getting used to. And still felt weird.
To get your master’s you write a dissertation; to get your D. Phill (Ph. D. in the U.S.) you write a thesis. This switch-a-roo of terms comes in handy if I forget and say I wrote a dissertation. It’s technically true, and makes me look smarter.
I remember reading Shakespeare aloud in class was always interesting. We’d be going through scenes and suddenly it’d be my turn to read, but compared to the gentle English accents around me, I’d butcher it: “tuh be orrr nawt tuh be…” Sorry, Shakespeare, for ruining your beautiful prose. I’ll leave the reading aloud of it your people from now on.