Life and schooling in Edinburgh, Scotland

Hi all and hello again from Scotland,

So it’s October 1st today and that’s already one month down of the ten I got here in the United Kingdom. Being here a month already and have seen loads of differences between the United States and the United Kingdom. The small stuff are things like there are so many more types of garbage cans, I know it sounds a bit goofy, but there are different “bins” for different types of garbage There are like three different bins for different recycling and then the bin for landfill garbage. I find myself on many occasions standing in front of a line of bins trying to figure out which I should be putting my trash, I mean “rubbish” in. There are other small things like how their outlets all have switches on them to turn off the outlet, their paper towel roles are a bit smaller too. These are all small things, the biggest change is the classes and academic differences.

I’ve been finding the transition from American educational system to that of the UK’s pretty difficult. There is much more of a hands off approach over here. Lectures are more impersonal in the UK unlike at Albright where you can ask questions and clarification. I think that is mainly due to the Lecture halls having 200 students or more as opposed to Albright classes with max 40 students. That closer more intimate approach to learning is something I really miss about home. Those types of questions have to wait for tutorial groups that meet once a week in groups of 12 or so. They are much more discussion based, but you only have them once a week. Also you are only graded on maybe two assignments for the whole year, so if they aren’t good you’re pretty much done for. Whereas in the states we have many little small projects and essays, here in the UK it is just these two essays and you are graded on attendance, doing homework, or participating either so it gets to be very tough.

Now I really don’t want to scare anyone from traveling abroad to the UK, because it really is an amazing adventure that I’ll remember for the rest of my life, but I do have to say that it is very different from America and it takes a bit of getting used to. By far the biggest thing I love about being over here is the people. The conglomeration of cultures and languages and customs is mind-boggling and breathtaking. I’ve made so many friends from places around the world and they’ve taught me so much already about their cultures and languages. I’ve been able to work on my German and Spanish with two friends of mine, and I’m even learning a bit of Italian with a friend I made from Sicily. A hard decision I have to make is where I want to stay for Christmas, because I’ve gotten five offers from people. One to Cambridge, one to Malaga, Spain, two from Ireland and one from Italy. I have also made a really awesome group of friends that I couldn’t have imagined to have found. They are really helping me a lot with everything and transitioning, we’ve cooked awesome dinners every night and I really love their friendship. Even though it’s been only a month, I know that I’ve found a group of guys I’ll never forget and always be friends with.

Give yourself an adventure you’ll never forget!

Cheers, Alexio

Me with my group of friends about to head to the Fresher’s Ball

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