Keep Calm and Study Abroad

                                                                by Athena Metaxas

Hey y’all! I’m writing this while sipping my delicious English Breakfast tea and dunking a McVitie’s chocolate biscuit into it (YUM!) in jolly olde ENGLAND!!  As a natural sciences student, I didn’t think that it would be possible to study abroad as our course load is very sequence-oriented. However, with proper planning, anyone in CNS can study abroad!

I won’t bore you too much with the application details as those are better left to a study abroad advisor, but one thing I will say is this: the earlier you plan it, the better! Seriously. Do not wait until the last minute to decide that you want to go abroad because it is a HUGE commitment. Now on to the fun stuff!

I am currently studying abroad this spring at the University of Sussex, which is located about 4 miles north of Brighton, England. Brighton is a quirky, seaside city an hour and a half south of London. It actually reminds me a lot of Austin with more antiquated buildings (and of course, it’s right next to the English Channel). There’s a TON of stuff to do in Brighton, from eating to shopping to biking to you-name-it. If you’re ever in Brighton, I suggest that you visit the Royal Pavilion, which is what Brighton is famous for. 

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During the first couple of days that I was here, it snowed about five inches, which in Texas is a death sentence. I thought that the English were used to a lot of snow, but apparently in the southern part of the country, snow is as much of a nightmare as it is in Texas. Everything was literally shut for two days. I, however, was really excited that I finally got to see a real snowfall since I lived in Chicago a while back. One night, when I was going back to my flat (what the English call apartments) for some dinner, I saw this monster in front of my door:

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I was stunned, then I started laughing. I thought, “Is this some sort of English initiation thing?”

In terms of my classes, they are very similar in style to those at UT, except that classes only meet twice a week for 50 minutes per session. The University of Sussex is a big believer in independent learning, which forces students to read outside on their own time (and I’m telling you, there’s A LOT of reading). Attendance is recorded at lectures, however it is not mandatory. If you thought that your grades in classes (or “modules” as they are known here) at UT were dependent on such few assignments, then you will be shocked at how few pieces of coursework are assessed at Sussex. In one of my classes, my final grade is determined by one 1500 word essay and the final exam I take during the finals period. Talk about pressure!

Anyway, I’m sure I’ve word vomited enough on this page to hopefully piqued your interest in study abroad. Go to an info session if you want to learn more about the process or if you have questions for me, shoot me an email at athenametaxas@utexas.edu.

If you want to read more about my adventures across the pond, check my travel blog out at electronmonkey.wordpress.com!

Cheers, y’all!

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