After reading the article “Studying Abroad: The Transition to Richmond,” I couldn’t help but notice that the sentiments in the article were quite different from mine studying at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.
Maastricht University operates on a learning system called Problem-Based Learning, in which students are given cases to solve as a group during class using the day’s readings and the group’s collective knowledge. Classes are held for two hours two times a week.
Participation and a large amount of preparation for each class is essential.
If you miss two classes, you will fail automatically. If you miss one class, you will be far behind.
I had 100-150 pages of academic-style reading for each class, as well as an end-of-term paper, presentation and final exam and paper for each class. What makes study abroad so enjoyable is not a lack of work; it is instead the balance of work and play as well as the sheer joy everything is viewed with.
I participated in a traditional Danish Christmas lunch at my friend’s flat in Copenhagen, took almost daily runs across the Dutch-Belgian border, and competed in a 20-hour triathlon with the climbing association I joined; and so much is still being left out.
All play and no work does not learning make, but neither does all work and no play. My advice to those students transitioning from abroad: Remember those valuable lessons you learned. View life at Richmond the way you viewed life abroad, and you’ll find the dream can continue.