The “Study” in Study Abroad

By Libby Rose ’19

I have just arrived back in the States after my six-month-long study abroad program in London, studying neuroscience at University College London (UCL). What an experience! The academics were so different from those at Pomona. In London, I took really cool classes for my neuroscience major such as Developmental Neurobiology and Cellular Neurophysiology. They fit right in with what I had been learning at Pomona, but their style of teaching across the pond is quite different from that at a liberal arts college.

At UCL, I was in classes with 80 other students, which is bigger that Pomona’s max 42-person classes (and way more than the 15-person class average). And there were only 10 weeks of classes! This was so abnormal to me compared to the 15-week semester schedule at Pomona. The British professors had to cram all the information into just twenty 50-minute classes, so the lectures were very fast-paced and hectic. After classes were over, we had four weeks off to study for exams. Students at UCL take their exams from all fall and spring semester classes in the month of May, so some students have eight exams to review for!
Luckily, I only had two exams to study for, but boy were they tough. The exams were taken in a testing center an hour away from the city in a warehouse with 2,200 other students! It was very intimidating, but thank goodness I only had to take two exams. It is safe to say that I was very grateful to be coming back home to Pomona where the class sizes are smaller, and you get to know your professors through office hours. On the other hand, studying abroad was a really nice change from the usual Pomona grind. I’m really glad I got to experience this new way of learning!

I was also very glad to have the chance to take non-neuroscience classes in London. I took 19th- and 20th-Century Art History and an archeology class titled London Before the Great Fire. Both of these were walking classes throughout the city and were perfect modules for visiting students to take in London. I really learned more about London’s history and about the culture in general. I also probably would have never taken these classes at Pomona, so it was nice to get outside my comfort zone. All in all, the academics on my study abroad program were challenging but a nice new experience for me. Now, I can’t wait for classes to start at Pomona in the fall!