In this blog entry I would like to start by briefly comparing my previous impressions of the educational systems in Germany & UK. It’s not that easy, it’s actually like comparing croissants with Berliners. Both quite tasty, but fundamentally differently conceived. I would like to emphasize at first that these are only my personal impressions. Of course, the factors outlined beneath cannot be generalized to whole systems. Hence, no system should be put in a bad light.
The concept at the Imperial College is fundamentally different from my educational institution. We have lectures and examinations over a period of six months. This is called semester, 3 months of lectures, 3 months examinations. One year has two semesters. Sometimes our exams are spread out over the entire period of three months, but sometimes everything is also the same as here in 2 weeks.
In London there are Trimesters and I’m curious to see how demanding the end will be. In addition, there is a lot of coursework that I haven’t heard of in Germany, at least in my course of study. This course work is mostly practical projects, which offer great experiences and are also relevant for the final grade. However, at my home university there are, depending on the subject, occasionally intermediate projects. Nevertheless, for these there is usually no reward (except experience) or sometimes a few “bonus points” for the exam. It’s totally flexible and dependent on the lecture. Thus, from my side this is a huge plus point for the system at Imperial, diligence during the semester gets rewarded!
I’m thrilled here too. Both rhetorically and personally, the professors are in their element. Due to the relatively small course size (200 vs. 1600 at my university), the contact is much more personal, both in the course and outside the university. Real example: I wrote to a professor regarding an urgent question Sunday night at 10:22pm. 10:33 I had the answer “sent from his iPhone”. That’s what I call commitment, I’ve never seen anything like that before at my home university! I also experienced very high technical affinity. All my lectures are video-recorded on Panopto or at least made available as PDF files. Anything else would be outdated, though, however, this is not self-evident.
Firstly, I would like to commend the design of the Central Library – modern, cosy and yet ergonomic, it’s perfect! Especially the separate tables on the 5th floor are one of my favourite places. The fact that you can book whole rooms is also pretty cool, therefore, you have no problem with group meetings because of missing rooms. That would be a great addition to my university.
My feeling in the lecture is quite similar to that in Germany. Some students are sleeping, others are attentive, but do not quite understand. One or two high-flyers, who have the answers to all questions, can also be found. Big plus point for small group sizes – the social pressure to answer questions is lower. Furthermore, probably everyone from the year has briefly spoken to each other at least once, which also creates a familiar atmosphere. Everything seems like a huge school class to me. In general, many things on site remind me of my school days.
In the second part I will take a closer look at some more factors (mensa/canteen, exams etc.). Stay tuned!