In what feels like the blink of an eye, I’ve finished my first semester which means I have three months of time to fill. I’ll be staying in college for the next three weeks and I’m planning on spending the time doing a bit more exploring, but also some less fun stuff. The time has come to start focussing more on my dissertation and conducting interviews, do some holiday planning, and I need to start thinking about what modules I want to do next semester.
One of the nice things about being an exchange student is that, in most cases, you get a lot of choice with what modules to do. Over here I’ve had so many modules to choose from I couldn’t even put a number on it. The reason for this is that my year abroad doesn’t count towards my final degree classification. Instead, if I pass the year I graduate with a ‘Geography with Year Abroad’ degree, and if I don’t, it’s simply a ‘Geography’ degree. So that means I don’t have to stick to just geography modules but can branch out and try some new things. Choosing the modules from such a long list can be difficult, but this is how I did it.
- Think about something you’ve found interesting in your course and see if they have a module on that. In the second semester of second year, I did a module on the geopolitical economy which had a few lectures on the War on Terror and terrorism. I found it really interesting, and that was probably aided by the fact that it is a very current issue, so decided to see if there was something along those lines available at Macquarie. Fortunately for me there was, so one of my modules this semester was called ‘Terrorism and Counter-terrorism’, and I’ve found it really interesting.
- Maybe don’t stray completely from your subject. As nice as it’s been to be able to wander from the geographical path, I didn’t think it would be wise to leave it completely. That’s because I’ll be coming back to Leicester for my third year and I don’t want to spend the first few weeks trying to get my head back around geography and thinking geographically, when it’s so important to hit the ground running. So by keeping a few geography modules in the mix I can stop myself from forgetting all of what I’ve learned.
- Look at how it’s assessed. At Macquarie they have really in depth unit guides for each module, which tell you how it will be taught, how it will be assessed, what the learning objectives are, and a whole lot more information. It was a really good way to work out if I could do well in a module, or if I might be setting myself up to fail. So whilst I can’t quite remember if it was luck or good planning that meant I didn’t have any exams this semester, I know that assessment style was something I took into consideration.
- Try something unique to where you are. I’ve done a module this semester called ‘Introducing Indigenous Australia’ because it’s unique to this country and I want to learn more about the society. It’s been a very interesting module, definitely harrowing at times, and I wouldn’t have been able to learn about it in any other country but here.
- Throw caution to the wind and do something different/fun. I didn’t do that this semester (but who knows about next semester) but it’s something you could consider. There was a module available here on Chinese Calligraphy, which I’m pretty sure involved a lot of practical calligraphy writing. So maybe throw one of those into the mix (after all, if you’re year abroad marks also don’t contribute towards your final classification, all you have to do is pass).
- The language requirements. This one didn’t apply to me, but if you’re at an ERASMUS university where you don’t need language proficiency, make sure that the classes you’re enrolling in are taught in English. The last thing you want is to get all excited about a module and then turn up on your first day to find out it’s taught in Dutch.
So they’re my tips on the matter. Definitely do your research, and I’d also suggest talking to your personal tutor at Leicester before you enrol in classes, just so they are kept in the loop. If your year abroad is going to count towards your degree, then I’m pretty sure you’ll have far fewer modules to choose from, but no doubt your department will tell you about that. And make sure you’re going to enjoy your classes, because it’s not all travelling and sightseeing once you’re out here!