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The differences between studying in the UK and the US

After a semester abroad in London, US student Baylie Bodiford returned to the UK to complete her master’s

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    Baylie Bodiford

    Baylie Bodiford
    August 5 2019
    The differences between studying in the UK and the US


    I chose to move to London to study a master’s degree, without knowing another soul in the city, and have been here for more than a year. 

    A few summers ago, I decided that I needed to experience cultures other than my own and explore a new place. Although I lacked experience, I knew I could enhance my perspective by moving abroad. 

    I discovered a study abroad programme at my university, Tennessee Technological University, and I was off to England to attend Richmond, the American International University for a summer term. Before then, I had never lived anywhere other than my home state of Tennessee. Not only did this experience enhance my global perspective, but it changed my future plans.

    I fell in love with the city and found real independence for the first time. Once I finished up my undergraduate degree back in the US, I began to look for graduate programmes, and Richmond was my initial choice. I knew they offered a master’s in advertising and PR, which was the industry I was interested in. I applied, was accepted, and now I am finishing up the MA.

    Right at the beginning of my time in England, I told myself to say yes to as many new opportunities as I could. 

    Survival guide for international students: your first 168 hours in the United States

    I grew up attending school with the same 60 kids for more than a decade. I was not forced to make new friends very often.

    London is completely different. Since I had previously studied abroad in London, it made the transition much easier. I have learned from those around me, formed connections which led to real friendships, and absorbed as much as I could from those I encountered.

    The university experience also varies quite a lot between the UK and US. In the US, students study an array of subjects, while universities in the UK emphasise depth in one or two subjects.

    When you are assigned an essay in the UK, it is common for the required length to be at least 3,000 words. However, in the US, it is unusual for assignments to be longer than a couple of pages. The same can be said for exams in the two countries. Generally, the US structures testing to be comprehensive; rarely requesting written justification. Presenting understanding is standard in the UK during examinations.

    While I studied journalism at undergraduate level in the States, I had to enrol in several courses on different types of writing to graduate. This wide variety of knowledge helped me in my current phase of education because I have an understanding of what both sides of the media industry aim to produce.

    My university in the US gave me insight into a whole field, whereas my UK university has given me practical skills that were studied in-depth. I now use both methods of learning when assessing and demonstrating new information I collect.

    The US gave me a broad understanding of journalism at undergraduate level, and the UK has given me an expansive vision of advertising and public relations throughout my MA. I found love for a city, passion for my career, and an appreciation for both UK and US educational systems during my university experiences.

    Read more: 7 tips for applying to top universities in England and the United States


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