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The differences between being a university student in the UK and Spain

I am taking my degree in UK, where the university culture is somewhat different to that of my friends studying in Spain. The main reason you go to university is obviously because you want to get a degree. However in UK when a student is choosing his/her potential university, they are likely to be influenced by more factors than their Spanish counterparts. In Spain the first question is what course to study. If it’s on offer at their local university, then they’re most likely to go there. This is as in Spain the general pattern is one where a student will live at his parent’s home while studying. This is in contrast to the UK where the vast majority of students will leave their home town and study elsewhere. Here students will live in either rented accommodation or halls of residence. Halls of residence are the most common form of accommodation in the UK. As it’s simply a block of flats full of 18 year old students, it’s not hard to see why they are so popular. Unsurprisingly there is a large focus on socialising, particularly in the first 2 weeks of term known as Freshers week, where every night for 2 weeks there are lots of popular club nights and cheap drink promotions to welcome the students. This 2 week period is created with the idea of students making friends and getting themselves comfortable with their surroundings. In the UK a large reason why people leave home to study is as it’s seen as good life experience. By leaving home, the student learns to become more independent and how to do every day tasks such as, cooking, cleaning or putting on the washing machine. Though it might not sound like much, these are key life skills and enable the student to not rely on their parents. Therefore from an academic point of view, the first year of your degree in the UK is more relaxed. Unlike your second, third or fourth year, in the first year there is no grading of exams or coursework as all work is given a pass or fail. Therefore students don’t feel the need to go the extra mile to achieve the best results possible as it’s not necessary. Another difference between the UK and Spain when it comes to taking a degree is the amount of time you spend in lectures or seminars. For instance in the UK there would be an average of 10 – 12 weekly hours spent in a seminar or lecture. However in Spain it is common to attend lectures and seminars between 9:00 – 14:00 on a daily basis, with practical work in the afternoon if necessary. Thus there is a lot more focus on teaching the student, whereas in the UK students are expected to study more at there own accord and in their own time. One aspect of university life that can only be seen as positive in Spain is its total cost. If you’re studying in the UK, not only are you likely to pay for tuition fees but also your accommodation and food. Because of the high expenses that make up going to university in the UK, the vast majority of students will take out student loans. However in Spain, though tuition fees are present, they are not as high, and other than these there are little other costs for students in Spain. Therefore studying in Spain may prove the cheaper out of the two options. However if you are looking to get more than a degree out of your time at university, and gain some independence then studying in the UK could be for you.

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