One of the things exchange students are famous for is to never really pay attention or study, and are often seen, at least where I come from, as just using the opportunity to travel along a new country, being paid for by their university. That wasn’t my case at all, first because my university didn’t give any scholarship (through this months I had to find a part-time job) and second because being able to learn at Surrey is one of the greatest honours in the life of a person born in Latin America like me, and I’m sure I am not the only one to think like this.
I decided to do modules on diferent departments so I could experience new environments in the academic field, so even though my degree is in Business, I did four modules at Surrey: One in Business, one in Politics, one in Literature and one in Drama reading. And all of this four modules were exciting and very interesting. Now, I am not saying some lectures you will get bored, or that you will always enjoy doing assessments, but I am saying they are all worth the stress and hard work.
One of the most amazing dynamics that I found here at Surrey were the Seminar hours, which simply don’t exist in my home University. Basically on my modules I would have one hour of lecture, and another hour, on another day, dedicated solely to seminars, a place where a small group of us students would talk and discuss topics of the lecture, do work together and, most important of all in my opinion, hear and be heard. This environment allow me to discuss all that I questioned on the lectures, to give my opinion, to listen to opinions from other people from all around the world, so in Politics, for example, we would discuss democracy and some of the students didn’t live in one, or their country was just turning democracy, or was just under a coup. People from developed countries, people from developing countries like myself, all would be heard and in that way, we did only learn from the teachers, but from ourselves, and while doing that we had a safe space to talk and actually get to know each other. But to be able to have a good time and actually be productive on the seminar, you needed to have understand, at least partially, the lecture, and have read books or plays or articles beforehand, so each activity motivated the other, ensuring, at least for me, that I would always want to be on time, to read everything, to listen to the teacher and the students, to talk and debate my ideas, and this is in my opinion what Universities should be.
Also in Surrey you will have little time in classes, a lot of off days, but you are expected to use this time to read, to work, more than half of what you learn at the University will be outside class, and that gives you the freedom to build your learning environment, another great aspect of Surrey.