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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Key Differences

Life is going good! Classes started on Monday (26 September), and so far I love half of them. Introducing Sport Science to Coaches and Physical Activity for Health are quite boring, but I'm hoping they'll prove to be better. I got to talk to my amazing Beth yesterday, and it felt really good catching up a bit! I'm hesitant to do too much catching up just because then it'll be like I'd never left (half the fun of leaving for a year is the insane amount of talking to follow!), but it was fantastic!

Anyway, onto the main topic for the day. It's funny. Taking modules here is so different than in the United States, but at the same time it's hard to spot those differences. They're quite subtle, but they make an incredible difference.
I'm going to try and just note differences that have stuck out.

First of all, lecture time. At UT, if I were to take a 3 hour course, I would see the professor 3 hours during the week. On top of that, there is usually some sort of discussion (or lab), reading, and then studying. It's really quite different here. I suppose it stems down to how credits are actually accounted for. Instead of claiming hours, you claim Bangor credits (ECTS credits are also used, but I don't know how they work). A 3-hour course at UT would stand for about 10 Bangor credits. 50-60 Bangor credits = a full-time student. I think 25 ECTS = full-time student. Well, 3 of my classes are 10 Bangor credits each, and then my fourth class is 20 Bangor credits. To show the immense difference in lecture-time, let me post my Spring 2011 UT schedule and then my Fall 2011 Bangor Schedule:
Spring 2011
University of Texas-Austin
  • 9:00am-10:00am Anat & Phys
  • 12:00pm-1:00pm History of Rock and Roll
  • 11:00am-12:30pm Nutrition
  • 2:00pm-3:30pm Tennis
  • 6:00pm-7:00pm History of Rock and Roll
  • 9:00am-10:00am Anat & Phys
  • 10:00am-12:00pm Sport Management
  • 12:00pm-1:00pm History of Rock and Roll
  • 11:00am-12:30pm Nutrition
  • 2:00pm-3:30pm Tennis
  • 6:30pm-9:30pm Anat & Phys
  • 9:00am-10:00am Anat & Phys (review, optional)
  • 12:00pm-1:00pm History of Rock and Roll
  • 1:00pm-2:00pm Sport Management
On top of this schedule I took two Institute classes (a Book of Mormon class for 1 hour on Monday and 1 hour on Wednesday and a Family History class for 1.5 hours on Thursday afternoons) as well as having a 6am internship on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Fall 2011
Bangor University
  • 9:00-11:00 Introducing Sport Science to Coaches
  • 11:00-13:00 Physical Activity for Health
  • 15:00-17:00 Exercise and Sport Physiology
  • 9:00-11:00 Sport Psychology
  • 13:00-15:00 Exercise and Sport Physiology (only in weeks 3, 4, 5, 9, and 10)
  • 9:00-10:00 Exercise and Sport Physiology (shadow lecture, optional)
Believe it or not, that's it. Now, Institute is about an hour away from Bangor (in Chester), so there are only classes on Tuesday nights for a couple of hours. Other than that, I've just got reading and studying to do.

Another big difference is the amount of independence in the classes. At UT, reading was often optional. I've gotten A's in plenty of courses without cracking open a book. Apparently it's the complete opposite here. Reading is a must, and often we are required to read journal articles (certainly haven't been required to do that back at UT). It is entirely up to the student to get the learning and reading done as opposed to having it spoon-fed via lecture. 

This independence, in a way, leads to the next point. University is treated like a 9am-5pm job here. After 5pm you will not see a single student studying or reading class-related material (for the most part). The library closes at 9pm or 10pm and it does not open until 9am the following morning. At UT the library was pretty much accessible almost all hours of the day. Serious students take it upon their selves to actually take the free time not spent in lectures to do studying and reading, rather than leaving it until that evening or until the weekend. 

One difference that irks me is that the gym is only open 9am-10pm. Gahh! I like getting up super early to go to the gym, but that is not possible here. On a similar note, most businesses are closed by 10pm, often 9pm or earlier. Morrison's, the main grocery store near campus, closes at 9pm. I actually quite like this mentality, as it asserts the belief in working to live, not living to work. However, it's quite a bummer when you're dying for a drink or snack!

Oh my, that reminds me of yet another difference. Meal plans do not exist here. Each dorm is equipped with a community kitchen on each floor. Students here actually cook real food. I feel like such a fool because I'm doing the American thing by living off of cereal, oatmeal, apples, and sandwiches whereas my delightful flatmates cook fish and chips, roasts, pasta, etc. I need to start doing more cooking!

Pfftt... ah, oh yes. One of the most important differences! American sweets are complete rubbish. Even the most basic/common sweet here is 10x more delicious than American sweets. 

Ugh, one difference I could live without: drinking and the social life. The drinking age here is age 16 as opposed to the American drinking age of 21 years. It wouldn't be so bad, but everyone drinks. I've joined BUMS (Bangor University Mountaineering Society) and BUSSC (Bangor University Snow Sports Club), but I have yet been to a social because they've all been pub crawls. Next week is the first ski/boarding trip for BUSSC, so I do get to attend that, thankfully!

A small difference that most people probably wouldn't notice is that there is a serious lack of rubbish bins along the streets here. You must do serious hunting to come across a public bin as opposed to them lining the streets everywhere in Austin. 

Diet drinks are not nearly as popular here. For example, I can find Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew, and some English brand cokes pretty much anywhere. I have yet to find a Diet Dr. Pepper or Diet Mountain Dew. I can find Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Diet Pepsi, and Pepsi Max usually without any problem, though they still aren't as common as the regular cokes. Calorie-free Powerades are also quite difficult to find, though they can be found! I'd also like to note that cokes here taste a bit different than they do in America. I also cannot find Root Beer anywhere, including diet.

A favorite drink that I've found here, but have never seen before in my life, is Black Currant Juice. It's delicious! I've also found watermelon juice, and let me assure you, it is the best juice I have ever had in my life. It is even better than cranberry, orange, apple, or grape juice. I didn't think anything could ever defeat grape juice.

Now that I've started actually jotting down all of these differences, they come much more easily and readily. Haha, I guess they aren't so subtle after all!

Since you've survived the text-intense part of my blog, here are some pictures to tickle the senses:

Last Saturday (24 September) I went mountain climbing/walking with my awesome Mormons. It drizzled pretty much the whole time, so we went home soaked, but it was well worth it!
There were sheep all over the mountain side. Dan kept trying to catch one. For privacy reasons, I will not point out who is who.

This was a lake we stumbled across when ascending the mountain. 

Here's a rainbow we saw! It was much more vivid in person... I apologize for my lack of photography skills.

Here's a waterfall we came across.

This picture was actually taken in London. Apparently this is a Greek Salad. No lettuce!

Ok, here's our hidden lack from the highest point we reached. Although the picture doesn't do it justice (again, I apologize) it was gorgeous... and very high up!

Again, a picture from London. Millennium Bridge! From Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince!

This is my much-adored watermelon juice. Brilliant.

Ok, my heart is won. Apparently there's a musical going on in London titled "We Will Rock You", based on, you guessed it, Queen! That's Freddie Mercury up on top. I want to see this so bad!

Platform 9 3/4! Just like in Harry Potter! 

Well, I suppose that is all I have for today. Oh! Before I forget, there's no such thing as 3-hole punch binders. They're all 2-hole! It took me forever to find a binder, thinking that I was just in the wrong section of the store. Blimey.
I'd also like to thank Dan for introducing me to The Prodigy and Biffy Clyro. Especially Biffy Clyro.

Nos da!

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