Differences between studying in the UK and Belarus
I am originally from Minsk, Belarus. And I was studying at a Belarusian private school for 11 years. In fact, there are not that many private schools in Belarus in general. The difference between my school and a state school wasn’t that significant.
The first difference between my studies in the United Kingdom and back at home is the language, obviously. I used to learn English as a simple lesson at school, but here all the subjects are taught in English. Secondly, the timetable itself is so different. In Belarus all the lessons last for forty five minutes, and there were 10-minute brakes. Usually, all the students had eight lessons per day, that was more than in a state school, where it was normally five-six a day. The reason for that was, firstly, more advanced level of studying Maths, Russian and English; and, secondly, the fact that we were studying German and French as foreign languages, as well. Here, in Warwick, we have a different timetable for every single weekday. Moreover, the educational process here is also divided into lectures and seminars, that is quite new for me, since in Belarus my lessons were similar to seminars, I guess. One of the main benefits of a private school is that classes comprise a small number of people. So I was in the class of 10, and in some lessons we were divided into even smaller groups.
Furthermore, the classes in the United Kingdom are international, where all the students are from all over the world, while in Belarus I did not study with foreigners. I really enjoy the cultural variety, since it helps me to explore different traditions and languages.
The number of subjects being studies differs, as well. In Belarus I used to have seventeen subjects, while here there are only five (and only four are counted for the application decision of the university). There is also another grading system, but it’s due to the material and tests differences. In Belarus the marks were given from one to ten (ten – the highest). Getting just nines and tens were counted as an outstanding academic achievement. Here the grading is in percentage terms and getting Distinction (70%+) is enough to get into the university (most of them, though). Moreover, I never studied a subject called ‘Academic Skills’ before, which gives an opportunity to develop critical thinking skills.
Lessons in the United Kingdom are far more interactive than in Belarus. I cannot imagine a teacher from my school writing something on a TV-screen 🙂
Lastly, the foundation course, as well as the whole UK educational system, requires so much independent work to improve your knowledge. I have never spent time in the library studying and writing essays.
Generally, I enjoy the system I have to study in now, despite some challenges, obviously. I do recommend choosing to study in the UK, because it is the place where you can be taught everything you need.