Studying abroad is super exciting and can be one of the best experiences a college student can have. It seems like everyone always focuses on the traveling aspect of studying abroad and often forgets to mention the academics, like adjusting to classes. From my experience, classes in Greece are super different compared to what I’m used to in the United States. My friends who are also studying abroad have told me the same thing. Because academics aren’t a hot topic of conversation before embarking on your journey, it can make it difficult to adjust as a result.
Here are a few ways taking classes in Greece is different than taking classes in the United States.
You might be super happy to hear this: there is no homework. At least in my classes in Greece, there is nothing formally assigned. Often, professors will assign a “formative,” which can be homework or a type of ungraded assignment. It more than likely will not technically count toward anything and is meant to help you. Personally, I sometimes wish there was more homework to keep up with. For me, it would make it easier to focus in class and not dream about traveling (guilty!). Studying abroad in Greece means adjusting to a different system, and I’ve experienced difficulty adjusting to the fast-paced environment without having assignments to keep up with. You might find that the lack of homework is great, though!
While there is no homework, there are a lot of assigned readings. When I say a lot, I mean a lot. My classes in Greece are purely based off readings. Don’t let Art History fool you – it has the most reading, followed by my history courses! Everyone always says this, but it really is more helpful if you try to keep up with most of the readings as they’re assigned, as there are some things in the book that may not have been covered in lectures in more detail. Plus, then you don’t have to cram later for midterms and finals because you will stress yourself out!
3. Midterms and Finals
The only grades that count for your courses in Greece are your midterms and finals. Yes, you read that correctly. These midterms and finals can come in various forms – projects, exams or papers. For most of my classes, midterms were worth 40% while finals were the remaining 60%. They also go through multiple graders, so it may take a while to get them back.
The grading system is also very different, as the standards differ. However, one wrong question can cost you 20 points on an exam. It is a lot to manage and can be stressful studying beforehand. Just like at home, you want to do well.
You also must be able to focus a lot in and out of class, especially if there are no assignments to keep up with, in order to perform well on the midterms and finals. A personal tip: bring your class materials with you if you’re traveling before midterms. I studied for my history midterm on the plane with a study guide my professor provided me (however, not all may do that). It’s really all just about time management!
4. Final Thoughts
One of my best tips for studying abroad and adjusting to taking classes in Greece is managing time well! You know yourself and your study habits, so put them to good use. Make study guides if they’re not provided, review notes after class, ask questions. Make sure to take thorough notes, as these will be the best tool in helping you ace those exams and your classes!