One of the main concerns I had coming to Uppsala was course load. Even in the U.S., courses at different colleges can vary in their expectations. Moving to an entirely new country with a different way of taking classes was frightening. While I could research how people typically felt about the change, it was hard to know exactly what to expect until I got here.
In most of the EU, schools use the ECTS system, meaning a full course load is typically 30 credits. When I registered for courses at Uppsala, I quickly found out that classes are taken in two blocks, meaning I have 15 credits of class in the first half of the semester and the other 15 in the next half of the semester. The classes I registered for were 15 credits each, so I am only taking one class in each half of the semester. At first, I was worried that this would mean that each course would have an extremely quick pace, but so far, I have enjoyed the way classes are taken here. With only one class, I am able fully focus on the subject and spend my time studying one subject.
Comparing the difficulty of my classes to the ones I took at UT is challenging because each of my classes here count for about 6 hours at UT, and I do not have to juggle studying for several different subjects at the same time. However, the courses here are more in-depth and independent. While we have lectures, discussions, and labs with our professors, we must also do a large portion of studying on our own to prepare for tests and lectures. My classes also favor group projects which tend to be somewhat difficult virtually, but I have still found it rewarding to work with other students from around the world.
In addition to the differing course layout, the way grades are given is quite different here. There is not as much concern or competition over grades, and most of my assignments and presentations are required but not graded. At first this change was odd to me because I am used to worrying over how well I am going to be scored. Here, I find that I am still putting in the same amount of work on my assignments, but I am less worried about when I present or turn them in. The downside to this is that almost all our grade is based on the final exam. As I said before, all the other assignments are required to pass, but it is also necessary to score well on the final to do well in the class. This means that it is up to the student to spend extra time studying and understanding the material as the final grade depends on it.
Overall, I have been extremely happy with my courses in Sweden. I have found that the mixed styles of learning, with labs, lectures and discussions peppered throughout the course, have made understanding material easier, and I feel more engaged than I would have been in a lecture style class. I am excited to continue my studies, and I hope to use some of the skills I have learned in this more independent style of learning in my future educational endeavors.
This post was contributed by Aliya Boisselle, a Global Ambassador for spring 2021. Boisselle is a neuroscience major from Dallas, Texas studying abroad in Uppsala, Sweden. Follow Global Ambassador takeovers on our Instagram Stories @texasglobalabroad!