So it turns out that the end of term crunch is not isolated to just American education. Here I am, with one day of exams left, still up past midnight, cramming to make sure I know everything and anything that might come up on my exam. Here in London, exams are 100% of the grade.
I haven't mentioned much, if any, of my academic experiences overseas at UCL yet on this blog. They're different, and not just because I'm not taking any engineering courses. My three economics courses and one geography course are all 200 person, twice a week hour long lectures. They have no graded assignments, aside from a four-times a term "tutorial", where attendance is taken and missing more then one class means automatic failure. While the material has been fascinating, the lecturers are dry and the class the opposite of interactive. This is in contrast to economics courses I took cross-registered at Wellesley in preparation for study abroad (You knew that right? Olin students can take one course a semester at each Wellesely, Babson, and Brandies University). At Wellesley, I was in a room of 30, having constant professor to student interactions discussing and reinforcing the material, which combined with bi-weekly group problem sets, meant I really learned my material. Here, at UCL, the goal is that the student spends considerable time outside of class reading on the subject matter, self-learning important applications and specifics.
I'll be honest, I prefer the American way better. I miss Olin's group work, as intense and crazy as it gets come the last few weeks. I miss small(er) class sizes ("er", because Olin's class sizes aren't always as small as one might presume - an increase in faculty is much needed and discussed), and most of all, interactivity. Alas, I'll be back at Olin soon - I leave London in five short days.