On opposite sides of the Atlantic, we know that many things are different, some more so than others. When it comes to higher education, plenty of trends and traditions have been swapped between the USA and the UK, and each country has developed their own ideas of what university life should be like.
Let’s start at the beginning – when you first start at university, it’s going to be a major culture shock either way. In the UK, you’re likely to find yourself donning cheap printed uni freshers t-shirts and crawling the local bars and clubs to ease yourself into your new social life, and the initial introductions to your classes may go by in a haze.
In the US, you might experience another meaning of the word, as hazing tends to refer to an endurance test required by older students for new entrants to their fraternity or sorority systems. The social structure of an American university is likely to be more rigid, and the same can be said for induction into school life – you may be expected to participate in a lot of different activities, charity work and more besides as part of your orientation.
As for the rest of your student life, there are plenty more differences to be found. Your money will definitely be spent differently in the UK, with a large chunk (whatever hasn’t been spent on alcohol) going towards food and basic supplies. Food is certainly cheaper in America, with many students opting for cheap cafeteria meals or paying in advance for an unlimited buffet subscription to make life easier. This takes the emphasis off day-to-day budgeting, leaving parents with bigger bills in most cases.
The same applies when it comes to accommodation – shared bedrooms in dormitories are a lot more common in US universities since private living space comes at a very high premium, even compared to UK standards which are a struggle for many. Of course, the American facilities and standards tend to be better than their British counterparts, but this definitely comes at a cost.
Campus life really differs when it comes to actual studying, too. American universities tend to have grand and impressive buildings which are immaculately maintained, reflecting the sense of pride their students take in their place of study. Overall you might find people tend to be much more enthusiastic, supporting the honour of their chosen university through sports events, clubs and anything else they can do. In the UK, you’re unlikely to see so much enthusiasm other than the occasional argument about which institutions are considered of a higher calibre than others.
Perhaps the more relaxed approach in Britain suits you, or maybe you like the idea of the becoming picture-perfect, hard-working American student? Either way, it’s interesting to look at the extensive differences across the board.