I did not buy any textbooks this semester. The library here is pretty extensive so a lot of the books are available for check out. Unfortunately, they are only two night loans but I would rather go back and forth to the library than spend money on books. With that being said, I did look up the prices of the books before and they are substantially cheaper than back home but I still decided not to buy them . Someone pointed out that if you consider the currency exchange rate they are probably the same price. Even so, I still think the books are less expensive here. The problem for me is really not the price though. There are so many books for each class. We are assigned A LOT of readings. Some classes don’t even have a main textbook, and the ones that do have 2 or 3 so it wasn’t worth it. Going to the library works well enough for me. Also, almost all of the readings for one class are online. The professor understands that it would be impossible for us to access all of the required reading so he scans a decent amount of them in and posts them online…it is not entirely legal but it is very covenant and nice of him haha.
Class is set up a lot different here than Carlow. When I would say to my friends who go to Pitt “It is going to be so interesting to have big classes!” they would always respond with something along the lines of “Oh, so you can become just a number and get no help from your professors?”. That worried me. Fortunately that is not the case. Since my classes are second year (they only have 3 years here so it is imagine it like junior year) they are smaller than first year classes but they are still large compared to my classes at Carlow. A first-year class I took, for a week and then dropped, probably had a little over 150 students in the lecture. One of my classes has about 30 students in the lecture, and my other ones have about 80 in the lectures. However, lecture also has a “tutorial”. The lectures meet twice a week, the tutorials meet once. The number of students in the tutorial is sustainably smaller with 10-15 students in each one. They are very comparable to Carlow classes. I am lucky because the same professor who lectures also teaches the tutorials. That is not the case for all classes. My first-year class tutorial, for example, was taught by a grad student. Anyways, the tutorials are personal and are a good opportunity to ask questions and brainstorm together. Before I came I was told that the tutorials were student led and the professor only facilitated some. If nobody had any questions or comments then you just sat there for the hour doing nothing. Thankfully, that is not exactly the case. I mean it sort of is but there is more to it. The professor asks questions and everyone answers together. It is a group discussion. We are constantly talking and working together. The professor guides it for the most part. Ir is similar to some of the communication classes I took at Carlow. The structure also ensures that we do not become “just a number”. The professor knows our names and engages with us. I enjoy the tutorials. Some classes are better than others but that is to be expected. The tutorials are completely necessary because otherwise I would be so lost. So much information is poured onto you during the lecture and there are so many readings. It is very beneficial to have a class where you can put it all together and make sense of it all. I should also mention that we only have three modules (that is what they call the lectures+tutorials). At first I was excited about that. Yes! More time to have fun! WRONG! Two lectures a week per class + 1 tutorial a week per class x3 = 9 classes a week. That is basically the same as my classes at Carlow. Also, the reading load is way heavier than Carlow. I can barely keep up with the required readings for each week, let alone the recommended readings –which aren’t truly “recommendations” for one of my classes…you have to choose wisely which ones to read or you will be lost during the tutorial (He has like 15 recommended readings for each class on top of 4 or 5 required so you do have to choose). I must admit that part of the reason it is difficult to keep up with the readings has to do with me kind of feeling like I am vacation haha. The grading methods are different as well. Back home the number and type of assignments varies from class to class. Here, all of the classes in my school grade based off of a mid-term essay and a final essay. The topics for the mid-term essay are given to you ahead of time and it is written at home. The final essays are written in class. You get the topics in the beginning of that class and have two hours to write an essay for two of the questions. I am terrified for it, especially since we have to study over Christmas break and I am traveling. I must say though that I do enjoy the way classes are taught here. I am glad I am still able to have small, personal classes even if they only meet once a week.