Taking Up On What the City Has To Offer

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After a week of classes, I’ve concluded that the British education system is very different from the U.S. education system. Like UW, an academic year is divided into three parts, but here it is called “terms” instead of “quarters.” Unlike UW, teaching is only done during the first two terms (fall and winter), and all final exams take place during spring term. Throughout the year, there are midterms, but majority of a student’s grade is determined by final exams. Classes meet only once per week. There are lectures and seminars for each class. Seminar is similar to a quiz section, but is taught by the professor rather than a graduate student. Don’t be fooled by the short amount of teaching time. There is more independent learning. Students have long lists of required and optional readings to do each week. I have a feeling that the optional readings become required readings for those hoping for an above average grade.

I have positive first impressions of all of my classes. I am glad to be studying political science because for too long I have been ignorant of the EU politics. The class size is smaller than my classes at UW, the average class size is only about 30 people. Granted, I am taking intermediate and advanced classes, and upper-level classes are likely to be smaller.

Besides school, I’ve done plenty of exploring. I jogged to Regent’s Park, one of Royal Parks. The park is 20 minutes away from campus and has about 400 acres of greenery in central London. I can imagine it a very beautiful place in the spring when all the flowers are in bloom.

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On Thursday night, I went on a walking tour of London. Braving the freezing cold and rain, I learned about London’s history (rulers were relentless and enemies were severely punished), and saw beautiful night views of major tourist attractions. I also saw the building filmed in Downton Abbey, one of my favorite TV shows.

During the weekend, I checked out Camden Market, one of the most popular tourist attractions in London. With its eclectic selection of shops, food vendors, and other knick-knacks, Camden market has plenty of interesting things to look at! I’ll definitely make another trip here before I return to America to get fun souvenirs.

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Later the same day, we went to the British Museum. The size of its collections is astounding. We only managed to navigate the Egypt, Americas, Asia and Greece and Rome galleries before calling it a day. The highlight was seeing the Rosetta Stone, closely examining the inscriptions, and standing in awe of the historical significance of this slab of rock.

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