The London Classroom

CZ ToL WWI
Celebrating the centennial of World War I at the Tower of London

Going to school in a different country, even among fellow students can be a little daunting. I hope this post helps ease any nerves or questions you may have!

The biggest difference is that you’re going to class for three hours at a time, which definitely takes some time to get used to. But if you have professors like mine, you’ll spend quite a lot of time going on field trips and getting out of the classroom. Because unlike many institutions in the US, you can walk outside and be right in front of what you’re learning about. I went on a number of field trips this semester with paintballing and beer tasting being the most interesting. But even the walks my British Life and Culture professor took us on around London were so informative and enjoyable. He also took us to experience the commemoration of the centennial of the ending of World War I at the Tower of London which was incredible and something I probably would have not attended otherwise. It sounds cheesy but London really is the ultimate classroom. Just around South Kensington, there are so many amazing (and free!) museums such as the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Natural History Museum. But London as a whole has a little bit of pretty much everything you can think of, so there’s always something new to see.

The first thing that hit me when I attended my first class with FIE was how conversational my professor was. I’ve only had a handful of professors that were like this and never to the degree which I was currently experiencing. This was my British Life and Culture class so it was only fitting that my professor was very inviting. But he was not the exception and in all of my classes, discussion and conversation were a much larger part than I had experienced at home. A big reason for this is obviously the class sizes here are a lot smaller which makes it possible to interact more closely. But I would say in general professors here generally forgo some of the formality we are used to in the States. One example being that professor is usually a title reserved only for those with the highest status at the university so 3 out of my 4 professors just had us refer to them by their first name. Shedding the formality allowed me to feel more comfortable in my new learning environment and I definitely interacted more than I ever have.
One of the biggest differences to prepare yourself for is the distinct lack of multiple choice tests. Out of my 4 classes, I’ve only had one all year. All the others have been exclusively essay questions. This took a bit for me to get used to because I’ve rarely encountered an open-ended question in my business classes. But the difference is easy to adjust to and it ended up being absolutely okay. I was a little nervous about the course load and difficulty before I came, but it really wasn’t bad at all. The thing I’d recommend keeping in mind is that since some of your classes are for only half the semester, things move by super fast. Even though the class is short, you’re still going to move through the same amount of information as a full-length class. It’s really important to stay on top of things because there are so many fun distractions around. Similarly, professors who teach at FIE don’t work there exclusively so it’s important to schedule time with them since traditional office hours aren’t the case.
But if you ever do need help, FIE has lots of great resources like writing tutors who are here to help as well as really awesome staff. Academic accommodations are accepted here as well. Being able to go to school in a different country is such an amazing experience that should be embraced, which is exactly what FIE does. I encourage you to take a class that you wouldn’t normally such as theatre or FIE’s food class because London (and the UK in general) is such an amazing place to experience the things taught in these classes firsthand.

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