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Understanding the academic culture of a UK university

Written by Rici Krieger, BA (Hons) International Tourism Management student

The prospects of studying abroad can be super exciting, thrilling but also slightly scary. Before coming to Lincoln, I was thinking about all the friends and memories I would make, looking forward to improving my English and growing as a further as a person through my studies.

But there were also things I wondered about: What would university be like? What do my lecturers expect from me? How will everything work?

I can vaguely remember what I thought university was going to be like back then. I expected large lecture halls, strangers passing by and always had my dad’s voice echoing in my head: “Don’t raise your hand, don’t ask questions. University is not school. Go to class, listen, then go home and revise. None of your lecturers’ care about you individually, just try to get by.” While that didn’t sound exciting to me whatsoever, I still went ahead and started my undergrad degree at the University of Lincoln in 2014.

You simply cannot imagine how happy I was once classes had started and I realised that going university in the UK in this time and age was completely different from my dad’s experience at a German university 35 years ago.

I was on a relatively small course and what I noticed right from the start was that our lecturers did care about us. They cared to learn our names, they cared about our questions and our opinions. Their first priority was making sure we were all comfortable, knowing our way around campus and classes. They asked questions where we were from and encouraged us to socialise with each other to settle in properly.

I enjoyed the simplicity of the timetable which we were given, no picking classes and applying for modules without any help as my friends back home had to do. We had four modules, all with a two-hour lecture and a one-hour seminar.

During lectures, the lecturers would usually introduce a new topic or concept with the help of PowerPoint Slides. A lot of our lecturers tried different methods so we could engage with the topic, as questions or answer them as well as give example or opinions. In seminars, our opinions and participation set the tone.

In seminars, our opinions and participation set the tone. Beforehand it is expected that we all would do seminar preparation, which is kind of like homework, about what relates to the last lecture and then discuss a certain case study for example. Seminars tend to happen in smaller groups of people and are very informal which helps to discuss your thoughts.

Something else I loved during my time at Lincoln was the library. Throughout the academic year, we had 24 hours access to the library, its books, computers, laptops, printers, group rooms and all other things our library offers. I preferred working late at night so this was brilliant for me. I also enjoyed that there was always help if you needed it, whether we are talking general enquires about printing or subject specific questions in which case you can schedule a meeting or go to a drop in with your own subject librarian.

Subject librarians are really useful when it comes to overlooking your writing or suggesting further books or journals around a certain topic. I personally barely used physical copies of a book during my time at university. Usually, I would access one of the many, many eBooks and online journal articles our library and their online platform offer.

I hope my positive experience about university in the UK has calmed some of your worries. Along the way, you will find a lot of members of staff, lecturers, librarians, tutors, friends and random students that will all be happy to help you out any time.

Good luck and enjoy your time here at Lincoln!

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