Putting me into a totally new setting abroad has given me a cool perspective on my home University. I’ve spoken to lots of American students from other universities and lots of British students about their experience with “uni” as well. I’d like to share my thoughts with you on how I’ve come to appreciate the University of Rochester through these comparisons.
1. Emphasis on participation
Here’s a quick anecdote: For one of my public health courses in London, we split into two groups and went on a walking tour of the city. We aimed to observe social policies at work. After walking around the city for a bit, our professor vaguely asked for two volunteers. I raised my hand. Later I found out that in the second group of the class, two other University of Rochester students had raised their hands to volunteer as well. That this illustrates the emphasis on participation that Rochester instills in its students.
Of course, it could be a coincidence that three out of three Rochester students in the Health Practice and Policy course in London volunteered. Yet at the same time, I feel that my professors at Rochester always encouraged participation, even in large lecture halls. I really appreciate that about my professors because even though it is not necessary for them to help us with participation skills in order to teach us a subject, it is such an important life skill. I feel lucky that my professors care about helping us to develop as adults and work beyond the bare bones of a lecture.
2. Public health preparedness
I have felt so prepared in all three of my public health courses abroad, including the class at Oxford. I now recognize what an extraordinary job my public health professors do at incorporating global issues and examples. There is a different style of teaching in England, as expected, but in terms of content, I have a strong understanding of context from my background knowledge at Rochester. Specifically, the Intro to US Health Systems course with Professor Theodore Brown prepped me quite well for understanding the healthcare system in the UK. Huge shout-out to Dr. Brown—we read one of his many impressive articles in one of my classes here. That’s when you know you have had an amazing professor at Rochester!
3. Research, research, research
One of the biggest differences between classes abroad and classes at home is the work outside of class. The readings I do for homework at Rochester directly correlate to classwork. In London, the readings I do for homework are rarely referenced in class; they’re meant to enhance your knowledge of the subject, and you are responsible for finding more readings to fill in the gaps. On that note, I feel like my classes at the University of Rochester taught me how to search for reliable sources of information, and I’ve put those methods to good use while I’ve been in London. A variety of my professors at Rochester have taught my peers and me how to use the library and, again, integrated that learning into class so that Rochester students are developing the important skill of DIY researching.
Those observations are the main ones I noticed while studying abroad so far. I am grateful for this experience and how it has shown me the caliber of my professors at the University of Rochester, and how I’ve developed as a student and a person, aside from just studying certain subjects.