Anticipate that your classes abroad are going to be different from your courses at NC State. Depending on your program, faculty-led and exchange or direct enroll will also help determine how different they will be. Going to NC State Prague or another city with a professor, your classes will most likely be pretty similar, and these credits will impact your GPA. Exchange and direct enroll will transfer back to NC State, not affecting your GPA just like if you transferred from another university or took classes at community college for a year or over the summer.
Things are going to be different in every country and continue to vary from university to university. You might be on a 10 point grading scale, with a 5, equivalent to a 70 here, and your professors might never give full marks as there is always room for improvement. “On-time” is going to mean something different wherever you go. In Spain, on-time can mean 15 minutes late but, in Ecuador 15 minutes. Some classes are going to be more discussion-based, while others are specifically lectures. Class sizes are going to depend as well. Something that seems to be consistent abroad is the lack of assignments. Be prepared for your final grade to be two or three assignments. A change in study habits might be required; plan on having a consistent study schedule to prepare you for the two exams you’ll have. If you are there for a summer or an intensive program, expect to be in the classroom much longer than you would need to be in Raleigh, but it will come with breaks!
Making friends with those in your classes so you can study together and ask questions will go a long way. Ask your professors for help just like here they want to see you succeed and do well; their job is to help you learn. If you are stuck and can’t get through to them, ask NC State to help you navigate these challenges. When getting help from these professors, be sure to make connections so they can help you down the line with recommendation letters and academic and career advice. Professors are always a great resource for your next steps and learning how they take advantage of different opportunities. Remember, you will fail and be challenged, so make sure you forgive yourself and learn from your mistakes. Your program will make you a better student in the long run.
Take these lessons and what you found to be important and let that guide you through your remaining time at NC State and into your career. There is no need to let cultural immersion be a one-time experience. There are many opportunities to continue after undergrad like the Peace Corps, JET, teaching abroad, internships, grad school, and Fulbright. Studying abroad is an intense experience with a lot of learning in the classroom and outside. It is going to impact you in more ways and a lot deeper than you can expect.
- PackAbroad Ambassadors