Seeing as how I will be moving onto university soon, I’ve decided to revisit my reasons behind choosing where to study to help you decide where to go. Since I know the UK and US best and these are the ones that most people choose to study in, I will only concentrate on these. I’ve also only studied in the UK and not the US, so I have recruited the help of two friends, one American university student and one Norwegian student who studied at EF Academy New York last year, to help with the comparisons.
No matter where we go, I believe that the one factor which could make or break an experience abroad are the locals. You can go somewhere unconventional and still have the best time of your life if you’re surrounded by friendly people, whom you are able to connect with. Alternatively, you could go to your dream country and possibly have a less-than-memorable time if you find it hard to assimilate with the population. This is why it’s crucial to keep in mind the stereotypical personality of a country before going to study there then. Americans are usually more open and easier to approach, which leads to making new friends less daunting. They also tend to be more outspoken and will let you know what’s on their mind, so if you have a thick skin and do not mind being directly addressed, this could be for you. On the other side of the pond, however, the English tend to be more reserved and reclusive. Though, this might be a North-Western European personality trait more than anything else – just don’t feel too bad if that cute guy or girl on the bus ignores you.
Personally, I am an avid traveler with an affinity for exploring my surroundings. Traveling helps me cope with stress, keeps me fresh on my toes by experiencing new ways of lives and gets me inspired me. So, a country’s geography is an important factor for me, and if it isn’t for you, you should definitely give it a second thought. Since you’re already spending a lot of money traveling to a different country to study, why not explore your surroundings as well? You don’t know when you will return to this place in the future and you don’t want to look back on your time abroad with any regrets. If you’re someone who prefers scientifically -proven claims, there are tons of research as well which shows that traveling can have a profoundly positive effect on our human psychology, so what’re you waiting for? America is famed for its huge geographical land mass, all of which exude their own unique personalities – from the bustling East Coast to the relaxing West Coast, why not discover for yourself which you prefer? Here in England, the country is smaller so you’re limited in where you can travel nationally compared to America. However, there are still many wonders and England is a gateway to the rest of Europe by flight or train, so rest assured.
A year ago, I asked my friends if they preferred big cities or small towns and I got a mixed bag of responses. What had started as a random topic snowballed into something larger than a “cat or dog person?” debate. In the end, we concluded that the actual place is an important topic to consider even if you don’t consciously think about it all the time. Are you someone who loves big cities or small towns? Of course, it depends on which state you live in but most probably if you study in America, you’re going to stay somewhere within range of a huge city. That means traffic, pricier standards of living, hectic lifestyles, but also more things to do such as art galleries, live shows, tours, etc. In England, there are some large cities like London, Manchester, and Birmingham, but it’s ruled by small towns and quaint English villages. Expect more quality time with yourself and a tight-knit group of friends, and maybe a few cups of tea along the way.
In our global world, being multilingual is definitely an advantage. Speaking different languages can help you immerse into a foreign country, or boost your likelihood of getting certain jobs after graduating. So, if you’re already planning a gazillion years into your future, this may be an important factor for you in choosing where to study. In America, we all know the stereotype of Americans only speaking a single language. Well, English is generally the rule of thumb in public America, with Spanish cropping up sometimes. But America is an international hub, so it is bound to have other languages hiding about. Always take these stereotypes with a grain of salt, because people are constantly changing as they have the capacity to grow and learn, just like you and I. In England, English is spoken the most as well, but many languages across the world pop up since it’s a European hub. No matter where you live, even if it’s a small town in the middle of nowhere, you could be waiting in line for a kebab one night and hear English, German, Russian, Mandarin, and Arabic flying about in lyrical unison.
I’ve never studied in America before, but I have studied in a school following the American education system once before for two years. From what I understand and my friends agree, the main difference between these two countries in their approach to education systems are their disciplines. The American education system believes in a broad scope of knowledge, so they teach about a lot of different subjects. In addition to this, they have regular testing and coursework which adds up to your grade point average (GPA) to keep you on your feet at all times. In England, things are different because you start specializing in your field early on. If you’re not very sure of what you want to do with your life, you might struggle a little here because you wouldn’t have as much freedom to wriggle around and test the waters. Exams are also usually in the form of cumulative exams, which may mean more stress for some people depending on your individual preference and method of learning. Whichever way you learn though, there’s always a place for you somewhere out there. If not, don’t worry, we’re going to Mars pretty soon.
Whether you dream of studying in the UK or the US, EF Academy international boarding schools provide a thorough education abroad, an inspirational environment, and a future that knows no borders.