My First Week of University in the United States

My first week of education in the USA was incredibly eye-opening. What was perceived as normal to all the students, has baffled me. I was raised in the south of England and have had nearly all of my education there, aside from a monthlong programme in China. So I’m very accustomed to how things are done in the UK and am even aware of how things are done in parts of Europe. So here are some of the things that surprised me this week, when I took my first week of school in the USA.

Everything is Bigger

This one admittedly I expected, having visited the U.S before, I had already anticipated the bigger cars and bigger food. But the sheer size of the campus still baffles me. The campus is so large it could fit my home campus inside many times over. The campus is so large it can take nearly twenty minutes to walk from one of my classes to another. All the facilities are enormous (especially the stadium) and the university seems to have the facilities for almost every athletic or academic pursuit a student would like to pursue. Which is something that is just unheard of at home, as I don’t think there’s any university big enough to provide all the facilities that are provided here.

College Sports Are Serious

This one primarily refers to football, but at home no university sports team would ever even hold a candle to the teams here. Here the football is followed by nearly every student I’ve spoken to as well as nearly everyone in the surrounding city. This is something that just doesn’t exist in the UK, we have the boat race which gets a little bit of publicity. But here we’re talking stadiums which hold more than Wembley being filled with fans watching students who are also play as professional level athletes.


This one one definitely threw me the most, so let me clarify. At home we have to buy the occasional textbook which can sometimes cost around $50 but really, if you need it there will probably be a copy in the library. And lecturers almost always put all their notes and power points up online anyway, so chances are you won’t need it. At home sometimes we even have e-textbooks that are given to us by the university. Here every class seems to be taught out of a textbook and the textbook is followed extensively. Most classes are usually taught explicitly by the newest version of the textbook which only came out this year. This confused me more than anything, not only do you need to use a textbook which mostly cost upwards of $100. But it has to be the newest version, which most of the time keeps you from buying a used copy. But for some classes you need to purchase codes to activate the online learning system which includes the textbook as well as the system required for you to submit your homework. So this rules out sharing a textbook as well as charging you to be able to submit the homework for the class you’ve already paid to take, you can see how this seems crazy right? On top of this my first lecture at the school consisted of in introduction from the lecturer before handing off to a representative from the publishing company. Who gave us a 40 minute sales pitch on why we should buy the software and textbook we’re already forced to buy. So in essentially, you’ve paid to be in a class where you’re forced to pay for a system which includes a textbook you can’t share with a fellow students or purchase together. As well as a system required to submit your homework.

In Conclusion

Although I’ve had a bit a rant about purchasing textbooks, which to me just seems like an insane money making machine which has moved form marketing tactics to strong arming tactics due to the fact that their product has been mostly useless by the information age. The American university life is absolutely incredible and overall a lot more interesting and enjoyable than the two years I’ve spent back home in rainy Plymouth. The campus is large and full of everything any student could ever need. And I’m excited to see how the campus changes on a game day.