Sometimes there are Exams…

Managing to get away from the partying and travelling can be difficult. Sometimes there are these troublesome exams that take place during the semester. The problem is that is difficult to balance sipping wine in the Alps or swanning around in Venice with exam preparation. Moreover, many people on exchange might even consider that their exams don’t count or that you ‘just need to pass them’. But what is the point of studying abroad if you’re not going to study? This is even more ridiculous when we consider that some people are working abroad, waking up for 9am shifts every day. Studying in Lyon has brought a welcome change for exams since now there’s written and spoken ones which in turn has affected the way I need to study. Moreover, I’m going to explain how studying during your exchange can make your final year easier.

I’m going to start with an example. Say you studying law with French, or in fact any language, and you are spending at least a semester abroad in a country where your chosen language is spoken. It is also likely that you are studying in that language and thus all of the exams over there will written in that language. From the first day that you arrive in that country, you will be practicing the language by speaking, listening, reading and writing. Now, often than not, the marking scheme for each exam will be less stringent for exchange students than for native students. So, now you can practice the language, the subject that you love doing and the teachers will treat grade you on the basis of being a confused exchange student. Since, you enjoy the new the surroundings and are exploring it every day all while gaining a new perspective on your chosen subject, you automatically are gaining an advantage for the exams – even when you’re not immersed in a sea of books. I confess it has taken me until January to be pretty comfortable with the language and my studies. My best exams results have been the ones that have happened the latest on such as in January and this combined with the exchange student marking has put me in a pretty good position. Therefore it’s pretty likely that you best grades will come from your last exams. For our example, half of the exams in the final year will be similarly answered in French back at Glasgow University. So this gives you a major advantage in your final year since you will have already sat exams of this type and they will equate to a least a third of your degree classification. Throw in your grades from your time abroad and suddenly over 50% of your final mark comes from non-English answered exams. Thus for a student of law with French, the hardest exams will probably be your remaining final year law exams which in the end count for much less than half of the final mark.

If your study abroad grades aren’t attributed to your final degree classification, your newly formed perspective on your subject will give you a massive boost for your dissertation since you can speculate and write about ideas that most students won’t even be aware of. Since this can range from anything between 20-50% of the final mark, you clearly are benefiting a year later from studying abroad. It may seem odd that you can both directly and indirectly boost your future grades from an experience in another part of the world. In truth, this is only one of the ways that experience will help improve you as a person. For example, the much-maligned French bureaucracy has insanely improved my ability to organise myself. I like to think now that for the first time during my studies that I’m not a perplexed mess, at least some of the time.


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