Academic Culture in London

Liza Emesibe, Pitt in London'20

Aside from the expected British accent that all professors obtain, there are many other factors that differentiate a classroom environment at Pitt to the one I experienced during my study abroad program. First of all, my course schedule was completely different as opposed to the one I had at Pitt. Classes would take place once a week, each being three and a half hours long aside from the internship course which would only go for an hour and a half. Most of my classes were in the afternoon from 2:00-5:30 however, I did have one class in the morning from 9:30-1:00. Classes would also take place Monday-Thursday we did not have any classes on Fridays and there were no recitations at all. In terms of academic culture, field studies were a very large component of many of my courses. Professors had a strong sentiment that due to the fact that we were foreign students in a new city, one of the best ways for us to connect the material we were studying in class to the reality of London was to visit landmarks and different places that made the connections for us. I personally truly enjoyed this aspect of the academic culture within my study abroad courses due to the fact that at Pitt, courses are heavily lecture based, whereas in London, although lectures were a large part of our class material we also spent time taking field trips and having a multitude of guest speakers come in to further expand upon the knowledge we were obtaining from the material we were learning. Another part of the academic culture that I found different to Pitt, is the fact that each professor took an initiative to get to know the students. I believe this is due to the fact that class sizes are much smaller ranging from 10-25 students a class as opposed to 400 in some of the greater lecture halls therefore, as a result professors are able to initiate a more personal relationship with each student and learning about each one of them as an individual. Given this, I frequently felt more connected with my professors in fact, it seemed as like the whole class was just one big family coming together to learn and expand our understanding of the material. The class environment was certainly much less strict and there seemed to be no hierarchy amongst the students and the professor, it was as if we were all on the same level, meaning that I saw each one of my professors as someone who is there to guide me and aid me in expanding upon my knowledge as opposed to just somebody who will be grading my assignments. Overall, I will say that I definitely felt more comfortable and interested in the courses I took abroad as opposed to most of the courses I took at Pitt. I strongly believe that the smaller class sizes, and the more stressed approach on interactive learning in terms of the field studies and multitude of guest speakers we had, strongly encouraged my leaning and expanded my genuine interest in the subjects I was studying. The fact that each of my classes solely obtained students who were part of the CAPA London program made the environment that much more comforting due to the fact that we were all in the same boat and we were all really good friends or even roommates therefore, the class environment already seemed that much more inviting and comforting right from the very first day.