I didn’t think that classes would be any different at the University of Bristol (UoB), but I was pleasantly surprised. Some of my classes, especially with the first-year courses I took, seemed identical to what UBC has to offer — huge lecture halls with weekly discussion groups. But my upper-year classes are really where UoB shines. I spend just as much time or more in seminars than I do in lectures, but I find those are where I’m learning the most.
My professors aren’t PhD students or TAs acting as if teaching us was just another part of their degrees — they’re real scholars. My religion and politics professor is one of the most respected scholars in his field — someone whose articles I’ve been reading since first year. I had a not-so-mild case of scholarly fangirling when I realized that. My history of Christianity professor’s credentials freaked out even my flatmates.
They don’t act as if they don’t care, because they do. I’ve been to more office hours and sent more emails to my professors here in seven months than I have during my three years at UBC. During our seminars, we actually talk about the topics in class. When there’s only 10 people and an expert in the field in the room for two hours, you learn a lot. Normally when my professors put their own articles on the reading list at UBC, I look at them suspiciously. But here? When my profs actually wrote the book on what we’re talking about, you accept it unquestioningly.
Of course, not all of my classes are as amazing as my upper-level courses. I took some first-year classes and my huge lecture halls held over 200 students. Seminars were mandatory, but painful. No one wanted to say anything during the hour and more often than not, I could count the number of students who did all the readings on one hand. It made me sad, especially as my other classes were so good.
Intellectually, coming to the University of Bristol has been amazing.
Natalie Morris is a fourth-year arts student and The Ubyssey advice columnist. She is currently studying abroad at the University of Bristol.