In the U.S. assessment is quite a bit different to the system in Swansea. Rather than having an essay or two and an exam for modules and basically being assessed on two pieces of work like at home the assessment here is continuous. I have to take four modules rather than my usual three and am tested in class every week about the reading that has been set. So far I’m doing pretty well in the class tests so I’ll try to keep it up! Simply reading the texts each week isn’t enough here, you really need to try and absorb every detail as the in class tests could easily catch you out if you haven’t fully committed to the work for that week. I’ve always done all my reading so it’s not too much of a change for me. I’ve now got use to the continuous assessment but when I have to read a book about the ecological history of the New England colonies it’s hard to find the desire to finish the book! However, most of the books and articles I’m reading have been really interesting.
As well as tests every week I also had midterms; exams and essays due half way through the semester. It’s not even the end of term yet and I’ve already taken two quizzes, three exams, written one essay and now have three more exams, another quiz and have three more essays to submit before Christmas. All on top of the 2/3 assessment I have every week. The work load was initially pretty daunting but with good time management skills it’s possible to get it all done and still have free time. For example, I’ve been away from campus for weekend trips and have not fallen behind. This heavier assessment means it’s all over before Christmas with no January exams so I have over a month off to truly be free over the Christmas holiday for the first time since before taking my GCSEs.
Despite all of this work I’m still loving my classes. I understand why as an American Studies student you are given the opportunity to study abroad as it really helps to be emerged in the culture to understand it. In my Civil Rights class particularly, my peers can help expand my interpretation of historical cases with relevant points from today, especially in regard to race and segregation. The off campus trips I’ve been taking have also allowed me to understand and appreciate U.S. politics and history more.
At the moment I have a lot of work. Much like at Swansea towards the end of term I have essays to write and submit, thankfully I only have essays for three out of my four modules. I have found it a bit hard to once again sit down and write several essays at once but I have managed to complete the bulk of them when I really knuckled down and put my mind to it. With the thought of Finals looming, and the issues I’ve encountered trying to sign up for next semesters classes, it’s a fairly stressful time and I’ve found myself hidden away and trying to power through. All I really want to do at the moment is go home. I’m not unhappy here but home has been my light at the end of the tunnel for getting through this term and I’m impatient to relax after the stress and excitement of the past 11 weeks.