Helllooooo! My name is Lucie and I am just full of beans about being a student blogger this year (apparently “full of beans” is a synonym for “excited”…just trying to keep it interesting, you know?)! I’m from Toronto, Ontario, Canada and I’m over-the-moon excited about being able to share my experience as a Canadian in Leicester. I’m going into second year this year, and the LLB will be my ‘second degree’ (more on that in later blog posts). I previously studied at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario where I dabbled in Gender Studies, English Literature, and Music (I’m indecisive), but ultimately went with a BA in Music. Cha gheill to any fellow Gaels out there! I’ve actually met some Queen’s graduates in Leicester, and we’d never crossed paths before – it really is a small world!
So, that’s a little bit about me. Feel free to comment on this post if we have some crazy connections! I’m always down to expand my friend network and add to that Facebook friend count (insert smirk emoji).
This blog post is about the differences between Canadian university (particular to Queen’s) and Leicester law. I’ll tackle the semantic differences first.
Here in the UK, what Canadians call a ‘major’ is a ‘course’. So, my course is Law and my classmates are called my ‘coursemates’. In Canada, a ‘course’ is what the Brits call a ‘module’. So, this year I have four modules; three of them compulsory and one optional. The optional module in Canada would be called an ‘elective’. Using Canadian speak, electives are courses within our major that we are able to choose, maybe to become more specialised in a particular area of our field of study. Using British speak: my optional module this year is Criminology which is an appealing module to me offered in my course. If that was a little confusing, don’t worry, you’ll catch on quickly!
What we Canadians call university residences are called ‘halls’ so if someone’s asking you if you live in ‘halls’, they’re not asking you if you live in a ‘hole’, which sounds suspiciously like ‘hall’. Friendly reminder that the Brits will try to copy your Canadian accent and fail quite miserably so just do your worst (or best) British accent and you guys will be even.
In Canada, lectures add up to 3 hours per week so lectures are split up into one-hour lectures three times a week, one-and-a-half hour lectures twice a week, or three-hour lectures once a week. At Leicester, lectures are only an hour long two or three times a week and all of our lectures are recorded. What a luxury! So, for those of you who can’t wake up for those 9am (or even 10am) lectures, this is for you. And, if you chose to live in Oadby it takes around 20 minutes to get to campus, but there are buses every 10 minutes, so if you plan well, you should make it in time for 9am. Trust me, you do not want to be in that group of people that files in awkwardly late, trying to find a seat while the whole lecture watches your every move and the professor tries to ignore you. It’s just awkward for everyone. Definitely avoid the awkward.
In Canada, tutorials are usually every week and, depending on the class, 15-30 people. Tutorials in Law are biweekly and consist of a maximum of 8 people. The small number means active participation and making mistakes in tutorials is crucial for getting the most out of them and understanding as much of the course content as you can. You won’t have all five tutorials in one week every other week, instead they’ll be spread out so you’ll have two and three tutorials every alternating week. This makes coursework more manageable but requires a lot more self-discipline than Canadian universities.
For all those Canadians who are used to having a full course-load of five courses (I mean, modules) per semester, Leicester will be a breath of fresh air! In first year a full course-load is five courses the whole year, and in both second and third years, a full course-load is four courses the whole year. This looks like a piece of cake on paper, but keep in mind that less courses actually means more in-depth coursework.
This one is probably my favourite and I have just one word for you: handouts! They are a godsend and save you hours of note-taking. But don’t take them for granted; you have to actually use the handouts and write additional notes on them. Some professors leave blanks in there for you to fill out during lecture which forces you to really exercise those active listening skills you’ve been practicing since kindergarten (or nursery, as it’s called in the UK).
Lastly, the University of Leicester pairs every student up with a personal tutor. A personal tutor is exactly what it sounds like; they are the one you go to with questions about the uni, your course, essay help, mental health and wellbeing, and so on. They are your IRL Google, Wikihow, Yahoo Answers, Reddit thread, or whichever website tickles your fancy. Just a note: your IRL WebMD comes in the form of the Victoria Park Health Centre, just a 3-minute walk from uni. And another warning, you don’t get to choose your personal tutor, so you might feel more comfortable using the university’s resources, or chatting with another tutor you feel closer to.
Looking back at my year, the best thing I did was get involved. Not many first years feel comfortable putting themselves out there but it’s the best and easiest way to meet people. There’s a lot of Canadians, Singaporeans, and Cypriots in Law and there’s a big international community at the uni so keep in mind that there’s a lot of value in immersing yourself in British culture as well as learning about other cultures.
If you have any questions about anything at all, feel free to comment below and I’ll reply as soon as I can!
4 responses to “A Canadian in Leicester, Pt. I”
Thanks Tasmin!! 🙂
Hey, loved your post. So interesting to hear your perspective on the difference between uni in the UK and Canada. Im blogging my study abroad experience in the Netherlands right now and uni in Canada seems quite similar to uni here in the Netherlands, which is interesting! Good luck in second year, looking forward to reading some more of your posts 🙂
Hey Elizabeth! Thanks so much – it’s really interesting that uni in the Neds is similar to uni in Canada! So far I’ve had a few conversations with other internationals comparing education systems and they’ve all been quite different from Canada.
Freshers Week in the Neds seems like a much more pleasant and relaxed array of events than in the UK or Canada. I’m sure you’ll enjoy your year there! Best of luck and I look forward to reading more of your posts as well 🙂