Monday, April 23, 2007

Matt - April

I’m still on my spring break right now (I get a month off), and I’ve spent the last two weeks studying and writing an essay – it sounds pretty boring, but classes started to get difficult so I had to study. Over spring break I went on a trip with four friends I met here from Austrailia. We toured around Italy (Sardinia, Pisa, Florence, Milan), and then made our way up to Amsterdam. All of the places we visited were very cool except for Milan – the main reason we were going to go there was to see the original Last Supper painting but you have to book your reservation like a month in advance. After that the family came over and we went over to Ireland and toured around England a little. It was nice being able to stay in hotels with hot showers and have good meals for that short time period.

The thing that surprised me the most about the University of Essex, where I’m at, is the number of foreign people here. I was originally expecting to meet almost all English people, but they’re almost the minority here. I’ve met the coolest people from all over the world (Nigeria, Greece, Senegal, Russia, France, Norway, China, Lithuania, Turkey….the list goes on), and they’ve really helped me to appreciate all of the different cultures.

Classes here started out slow, but they picked up rather quickly. All I have coming up now is final exams, but these finals basically determine 100% of my grades. It’s pretty tough too, because the teachers I have don’t really lay out what you need to know like they do in the US. Instead it’s up to you to go through the textbooks and find all of the important points, etc. The weekdays here are basically treated like the weekends – it’s hard to distinguish between the two. A lot of people in my flat party very hard and at first it was hard to get used to. I was shocked when I first got there and people were going out to the bars on Sunday and Monday nights. Being over here has really helped me learn to stay focused.

The food hasn’t been as bad as I was expecting it to be, but the prices are. I make my own food so it’s just like the food I had to make back at EC, except I’ve acquired some new recipes from some of my flatmates. The currency exchange here is ridiculous, but no need to state the obvious. When I first got here I was devastated by the prices, but now I’ve grown numb to the fact that a cup of coffee will cost me $9.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Matt,

You trip sounds like a lot of fun. Yet you also mentioned it has taught you how to stay focused on class work. Since your final is more of your grade than it would be at EC, do you have homework assignments over the semester that just aren't collected? I'm going to Australia and it sounds like their grading is very similar to where you're attending. Do you have any pointers on how to adjust to it?


10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In response to your questions Alison, my advice would be to try and stay as focused as you can right from the start so you don't get behind. It was difficult for me at first because there is nothing you have to do that forces you to stay up on the material, except for the final at the end of the year.

Occassionally there are essays that you may have to do, but it really depends on your major. I'm studying mainly science classes over here so the exams are all I have to worry about. I have had no homework given at all, which was a huge change - some students like it some don't, but I personally feel that if you can find some way of implementing a structured method of studying on a regular basis you will be perfectly fine. Hope that answers your questions.


12:48 PM  

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