The English Channel: Studying

Studying. Ugh.

If I had to guess, I’d say it’s the least favorite pastime of every college student around the world.

I think it’s the only thing we have in common with the students here at Sunderland.

One of the biggest things we don’t have in common has got to be the amount of studying there is to do.

Here, the students seem just as stressed out as everyone back home, but I promise you, they have much more time to do their work.

I’m in class Tuesdays from 9-1 p.m., Thursdays from 10-3 p.m. and Fridays from 11-1 p.m.—that’s 11 hours each week. Not bad right?

That gives me plenty of time to write this column, work through my honors thesis, completely my uni assessments and dance away my homesickness.

Still, I hear people in my classes complaining about the workload.

Now here’s another kicker. My classes, minus my broadcasting class, have already given me every single assignment. So I will have had from Jan. 27 all the way until May 9 to work on SIX projects.

Do we have reading? Barely (and the international students are the only ones who actually do it.)

Do we have homework? Nope.

Pop quizzes? Never.

Tests? Kinda sorta — they are more like projects, but they’re called “assessments” and they count as a huge percentage of your grade.

The assessments are turned in to a special desk in the library and you get a receipt saying it was turned in on time. If your tutor doesn’t want to deal with that, you submit a virtual file to a drop box on the school website.

Then, weeks after submitting it to the proper location, you get a grade from zero to 70 percent.

You can get grades higher than that, but it’s uncommon. Anything greater than a 60 percent is called first class, which is equivalent to an “A” back at UCA. I can get a 40 percent on my assignment here and expect to see a “C” on my transcript. I just don’t understand — people can pass a class with a 35 percent average, how does that make any sense?

So, since the coursework is so laid-back, I have had time to explore Northumberland a little bit more.

The other afternoon, my flat mate Sylvia and I purchased day passes for the metro after a man at the Millfield metro stop told us that there are 60 different stops worth exploring.

We got on the little train and rode for 20 minutes to Pelaw. It’s so cute the way the automated voice pronounces that name.

Then we hopped onto another metro and ended up in South Shields just in time to watch the sun go down from the beach. The little town had a completely different look and feel compared to Sunderland and Newcastle. It looked like what I had imagined England would be, but it also had a small amusement park, an indoor water park and a hookah bar!

I couldn’t tell you how we decided on South Shields that day, but it was a great choice and I’m definitely going back for that hookah bar.

Life lesson of the week: Listen to the wise man at the metro stop.

Cheers and beers,


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