My decision to study in an entirely new continent was not easy.
I knew there were some barriers I’d have to overcome, like getting accustomed to the culture and being away from family. One additional hardship was adapting to the different style of teaching in the United Kingdom, and at LSE in particular. After my first semester, I have come to terms with quite a few differences that I wish someone had told me before starting my studies. I’m here to do that for you!
Professors treat you like equals
One thing I noticed early on was that there are some differences in the way professors interact with students. On the very first day, each professor introduced themselves by their first name and we’ve continued down that path of informality ever since. Whereas in the United States we would always call our professors by their title and last name, here things are much more casual. The way we talk to professors is just an example that illustrates the relationship altogether. The professors at LSE definitely think of the students they teach as equals, encouraging students to come to them with interesting conversations, questions, and even criticisms in a very informal manner. On top of that, the teachers don’t baby you in terms of getting your work done. By this, I mean that they simply expect you to do the work, and don’t berate you with homework assignments or pop quizzes to ensure that you are up-to-date. It honestly feels great to know that my professors trust me in this way!
Lectures and seminars
Another major difference between studying at LSE and my previous studies is the way our course time is structured. Here, each course will have both a weekly lecture and seminar that students need to attend. The lecture typically includes all students taking the course, and it’s where professors cover the major topics in a lecture style format. The seminars, on the other hand, are much smaller breakout groups that allow for students to have more discussion, or partake in activities related to the topics they covered. I had no idea what would happen in my weekly seminars vs. lectures because in my previous studies the courses did not have this breakout. Instead, you would attend the same course multiple times a week. This means that if the course was large then it would always be large and if it was a small class then it would always be small. On top of that, the teaching style was typically the same for the course every time we attended it, so if the course was a lecture format then you would never really get the chance to have small-group discussions. The different course structures have their own benefits, but I’ve enjoyed having a seminar to complement my lectures throughout the term.
Readings, readings, readings
There isn’t much to say about readings at LSE, besides there will be a lot of them. Many are required reading, many more are suggested readings. Overall, it’s a lot more reading than I’m used to and took some time to get adjusted to. Now that I’ve become more familiar with the course load, I’ve learned some tips and tricks to simplify the process and have hopefully become a better reader in the process.
While I’ve only gone over differences that might seem challenging in this post, adjusting to the style of teaching at LSE is definitely worth the challenge.