1) Go to class
Unfortunately, this is not an option. Class attendance is recorded and taken seriously. No more ‘Scratch Mondays’ in Belfast, followed by no mission of making it to class on Tuesday – which is why parties here are on the weekends. The good thing about this new rule for me, is that it is actually worthwhile! Here, I feel like if I missed one class it would take me a week to catch up so … yeah, just go.
2) Be Prepared
“Ok class, take out of sheet a paper and write for 10 minutes on …”
Sorry, what? Yes, this does happen. Every professor somehow very quickly learns every person’s name (whether it be Maeve or Mo) and they will use it often. We don’t have tutorials here like we do at home, I am just forever being asked questions in every class. So you have to be prepared, but it’s a great way to learn the material as you go along.
As the professor uses everyone’s name, you soon learn them pretty quickly too. At home, I have sat in classes of 200 people not knowing one other person’s name and that’s not because I’m a social recluse, I just get along with it. Here, many classmates study together and if you ever miss anything, it’s always good to know those around you so you can catch up. In general, I have found that Americans use your name a lot more when they talk to you anyway so it’s good to be able to do the same.
4) Buy the textbooks
This is the depressing one. I spent two years at uni trying my very best to avoid buying textbooks and just ‘learned the slides.’ That’s not really an option here, although many people do share. The textbooks are crazy expensive but it’s just one of those things.
Participation is key. You cannot just wait to be called upon or sit praying that you never will be. Participation is counted in your final mark and although it may be daunting at first (because I have to consciously slow down my words), it really helps you form an opinion on what it is you are talking about and thus understand it better. So get involved in the classroom.
Although I am finding the content of the work a lot easier, the workload is definitely heavier. You are expected to learn throughout the year and not leave it to late nights in the McClay library, dreaming of being out at ‘Craics90’ Tuesdays. Everyone works hard. Below is just the average weighting for my classes at home and here in Evansville. Although I’ve had to sacrifice some of my TV watching time, I am thoroughly enjoying all of my classes.
As some of my professors remind me in their (trying to be humorous) emails, ‘learning is fun’.