5 Ways Studying Abroad in the UK Is Different Than in the US

Carolina Jacobs

May 17, 2021
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Studying abroad can be a great way to experience a new culture while earning some college credit. It’s an experience that many universities offer their students. Typically, students study abroad in their junior year, but it can vary. Europe is a popular study abroad destination.

However, there are some differences between studying in the U.S. vs. the U.K. Here’s a look.

The Benefits of Studying Abroad

Studying abroad can be a very exciting opportunity! Here are some of the main reasons to study overseas or abroad.

  1. You Will Appreciate Your Home Country Better

When you study abroad, you will experience different cultural traditions. Through these experiences, you will see things from a new perspective. During your time abroad, you will begin to notice similarities and differences between your home country and the one you’re studying in.

Having this broader perspective allows you to reflect on the things you value from back home and other values you want to incorporate when you return.

  1. You Can Take a Class Not Offered by Your College

Another benefit of studying abroad is the course selection. Colleges may offer courses that are specific to certain majors or those that meet graduation requirements. However, this means there is a limit to the type of classes you can enroll in.

Studying abroad gives you a chance to take classes indirectly related to your major, such as a class taught in a different language.

  1. You Will Become More Adaptable

When you travel abroad, you often have to adjust to a new school, location, and social environment. To handle these unique situations, you learn how to be more adaptable and solve problems quickly. Many students study abroad for months at a time, so learning to be more flexible is crucial.

  1. You Will Become More Independent

You are probably used to being away from your parents for extended periods, but it’s an entirely different experience for many students. When you study abroad, you have to learn to navigate a new setting all on your own.

Many students are pushed outside their comfort zone and challenged to take on new opportunities without their family’s support. By facing these challenges, they grow stronger and become more independent.

  1. You Will Explore New Places and Meet New People

Traveling abroad is a great way to see new places and visit the ones you have on your bucket list. Once you graduate, you may not have the time to travel, so take advantage of the opportunity to explore a new country.

You will also make new friends through your study abroad program or local people you meet when sightseeing. You may even keep in touch with some of these people when you return home.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Study Abroad Location

Studying abroad has many perks, but finding the right location takes some thought. Consider these questions when deciding where you want to go overseas:

  • What are your priorities while abroad? Think about if you want to travel a lot while there, if you hope to experience a very different cultural environment, and what type of classroom setting you prefer.
  • What international universities does your school work with? Look to see if your

school partners with any study abroad program to make the transfer of credits easier and possibly lower the cost.

  • Are the classes taught in English? When selecting your courses, look for ones taught in English, unless you speak a different language fluently.
  • What’s the cost of living in the country? While abroad, you pay for your living accommodations and any meals outside of the cafeteria. You’ll want to know how to budget and which places are pricier than others.
  • What are the expectations or laws? Before you go abroad, understand the rules and traditions of the culture. Look for a place that has customs you support and would be able to follow.

Studying in the UK vs. US

Studying abroad in either the United Kingdom or staying within the United States are two options for students who want to study overseas. Before making your final choice, here are some of the differences you will encounter while abroad.

  1. One Exam or Paper Determines Your Grade

In the U.S., you often have multiple grades throughout the semester from tests, papers, and class participation points that account for your overall mark. In the U.K., it is typical to have a single exam or paper account for a more significant portion of your grade.

  1. Less Time in Class

U.S. students tend to be in classes longer than in the U.K. While students in the United Kingdom spend less time in classes, they must do more work outside class. This means studying within the U.S. may give you more opportunities for outdoor exploration.

  1. Less Late Night Study Sessions

In the U.S., many students cram for tests late at night. However, in the U.K., they tend to follow a schedule that resembles a typical 9-to-5 job. Some universities in the U.K. even close early on certain days of the week, allowing students to enjoy their evenings.

With this schedule, students in the U.K. have more time over the weekend to socialize with friends.

  1. More Academic Pressure

While in the U.S., it is natural to enter into college with an undeclared major. However, in the UK, this is not often the case. Students in the U.K. usually enter into a university with a specific major and stay focused on it.

So, if you study in the U.K., you will likely take more major-specific classes instead of the more general or liberal arts classes offered by many U.S. colleges.

  1. No GPA’s

Unlike in the United States, the U.K. doesn’t have a GPA system. In the United Kingdom, the highest grade is a 70% and is known as “first-class honours.” So, if you study abroad in the U.K., be sure to familiarize yourself with the grading system before you go.

Studying in UK vs. US

Studying abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It allows students to gain new perspectives, become more adaptable and independent, and make new friends. Studying abroad in the U.K. or the U.S. are two possible choices. However, they differ in terms of their grading system, time spent in class, and academic expectations.

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