Claire in London

Claire is a junior majoring in history and anthropology, with a minor in political science, in Dedman College. In fall 2011 she is studying at King’s College London with IFSA-Butler, in partnership with SMU Abroad.

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Orientation

Today was the first day of KCL orientation, which was very exciting since no one has any idea what the HECK is going on. We have been allocated “modules” (classes) but we don’t know our “tutors” (professors/lecturers) or our “timetables” (schedules).

In the UK, most students only take classes from one department at university. By your first year, you are expected to have chosen your academic path. If you are going to be a history student, you take only classes in the history department. Unlike the United States, where even if you do not attend a liberal arts school like SMU, you are most likely expected to have a well-rounded foundation when you finish your degree – no matter your major. I have not met a single U.K. student who is taking classes outside of their department, nor has anyone ever heard of such a thing as a double major or minor.

So, schedules are not given out on an individual basis. They are given out by the departments. If you are a U.K. student, you should not have any issues since the departmental timetables do not overlap internally. However, if you are an international student from the States, you’re in trouble.

You must register for your classes first (I register for mine this afternoon). Then tomorrow I have to visit the orientation meetings for the two departments I will be enrolled in (History and Classics). There, I will be given the two departmental timetables and my classes may or may not overlap. If they do, I will have to re-register in a different class(es).

If someone can explain to me why this makes any sense – that is, to require enrollment before receiving a schedule (which may or may not then have to be rectified to said schedule) – please be my guest. It seems to me that it is much more logical and efficient to provide students with schedules and then have them register! It saves time for both the student and registrar!

Enrollment here seems difficult and elusive (even for the U.K. kids), while in the U.S. everything is online, personalized and organized in, usually, a very clear way.  You can see your class sections and professors and reading lists long before you have to enroll. All of you back at home – be thankful that Access is such a breeze.

I also found out today I may not even start classes until October 3rd. I will know for sure whether this is true by this afternoon. In which case, I will probably be saying Cheerio! to London and  Bonjour á Paris for a week or so.

 

 
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