Abroad vs Home Institution

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Hi, It’s been a while since my last blog, so I hope you enjoy this one! As the title reveals, in this blog I will discuss the difference I’ve noticed between my education abroad and the one from my home institution. I will also reveal the process I went through to select my abroad location and specific courses.

As many of you know, My home institution is Bates College, and for those of you who don’t know, it is a small liberal arts college located in Lewiston Maine, and it is dear to my heart. My experience abroad has been very different from my home institution, and this has been very fun but also challenging in different aspects. Besides the obvious changes in location, I had an interesting time learning to adjust to the teaching style of different instructors and the freedom that comes with this experience. From the first couple of weeks, I noticed that we did not meet as frequently as in most classes that I was used to at Bates. For instance, my core course for the semester only met for about 2 hours once a week, and this was very confusing for me to wrap my head around. Outside of class, we had a couple of readings, but we rarely got any homework or assignments to turn in. Most of my classes abroad were heavy on exams in regards to determining grades. For instance, I had a lot of classes that did not assign homework or in-class assignments, and the only thing that went toward our grade was the midterm, final, and participation grade (approx 10%). Before going abroad, I was not too familiar with this teaching style, and it took a bit of time to adjust. I also found it a bit stressful that I did not know how I was doing for most of my courses until I completed an exam or large presentation. Another large difference that I noticed is that because this is a new location and students are highly encouraged to explore their surroundings. I found that sometimes this freedom was a bit distracting, and I had to learn how to balance my schedule to be productive and also adventurous.

I’m sure most people are curious as to how I choose the program I wanted to study abroad at, and if I’m being honest, I’d give my home institution Bates College a lot of the credit. As early as freshman year, Bates was encouraging many students to think about abroad and ask as many questions as possible regarding the process and different programs. When I mentioned that I was interested in studying abroad my sophomore year, the global education advisor at Bates connected with me, and we instantly began to look at different available programs. This instantly became stressful, and I became a bit overwhelmed because there were so many programs. I decided it would be a great decision for me to choose what I want to focus on and then choose a program according to this specific interest because that would narrow things down. This process worked great, and I was able to eliminate all the programs and chose the one that fit me best. When It was time to select classes, I also felt overwhelmed because I was interested in so many classes, and I did not know what to choose. My methods for choosing my classes consisted of me placing all of my classes in order from most desirable to least, and then I selected the classes as such and changed some courses if they conflicted with the time of the classes that I desired more. This process was efficient and allowed me to select my classes very quickly before most students selected, and classes began to fill up.

This wraps up my blog for today. I hope you enjoyed the read, and it is beneficial for those of you who are interested in studying abroad.

See you soon,

Belize