How was your spring break? I hope you all had a great time and feel recharged for school! Today, I am going to talk about my impression of the academic experience at Tufts as an exchange student. Since I already wrote about classes in my earlier posts, I am going to focus more on schoolwork and assignments this time.
To be frank, I think students here lead very busy lives. Compared to back home, there is much more work to do and once school starts, work never stops until the end of semester. I have heard stories about European universities from my friends who are on exchange or have studied abroad there. When compared to schools in European countries, U.S. schools like Tufts seem to require students to work harder.
However, most of the students here are such hard workers and somehow handle tons of schoolwork, which I am always impressed by. When I was taking international relations and philosophy classes last semester, for the first several weeks, I simply became overwhelmed by the amount of work, and I could barely handle my readings. I am still struggling to manage so much work every once in a while, but at the same time, I feel like it keeps pushing me to try my hardest, and I have learned a lot of things through this experience since I came here.
When I was struggling to catch up on classes and work I asked my friends how they handle it and how they would prepare for class. Interestingly, they shared that they would not necessarily read the entirety of their readings closely but rather, while skimming and grasping the overall point, they tried to find out interesting, important or confusing parts so that they could actively participate in class. This method is quite different from the way I used to study back home, in which I tried to perfectly understand the whole content before class. This is probably because classes back home were lecture-based classes that usually did not really expect students’ in-class participation.
In this sense, I think U.S. college education provides students with more opportunities to actively learn and study in class, which I appreciate and prefer to the type of education back home that is focused more on faculty-led informative lectures. Through experiencing this active way of studying, I have changed my way of thinking about a variety of things. For example, I now pay more attention to whether or not what I am doing is an effective way to achieve the goal or purpose, and more specifically, for classes I am more careful about whether I try to grasp the whole picture of a reading and formulate my own questions and opinions to it, or I just read and passively accept what the authors are saying.
Indeed, U.S. college life is hectic and sometimes gets rough, but I think it is really worth it. I sincerely appreciate my choice to come here, and I’d like to learn as much as I can until this semester and the exchange program ends.