Brno and State College: #CollegeLife

I think college students inherently have some of the same experiences. From questioning career paths to pulling all-nighters to finish an essay you procrastinated a few days too long (not like this one…), some parts of student life transcends cultural boundaries.

One of the biggest differences that I noticed between student life at Penn State and at Masaryk University was the location. I think students at a school like NYU might have more in common with students at Masaryk than either school has with Penn State. Going to a school in a city versus a land-grant school surrounded by farms is bound to provide different opportunities.

Something that surprised me was how the students in Brno talked about the necessity of a master’s degree. It’s not common for students who study communications at the undergraduate level in the United States to get master’s degrees in the communications field right after their bachelor’s degree if they want to work in a non-academic environment.

When we get to college after high school, one of the biggest adjustments we are told about is how teachers are less involved in the day-to-day expectations and requirements. If you don’t hand in an assignment, you are not going to be reminded or given an extension to hand it in. I was surprised to see that this aspect of the educational system in Brno, and how it was even more extreme than what we experience at Penn State.

While some of my classes do not take attendance, my small classes for my major have required attendance because of the group discussions or projects that would not be as valuable or easy to work on if attendance was optional and a large number of students did not show up. While there are some once a week classes offered at Penn State, I have not taken any courses like that because I prefer classes that are broken up throughout the week in two or three classes a week.

I have also never had such a large portion of my grade dependent on a final exam like the Czech students described, but communications students are usually evaluated over the course of the semester. I have also never had an oral final exam, outside of my language courses, but the oral exams for those classes were a part of a larger exam. I actually do not have any final exams this semester, and I did not have any in the previous semester. (This is why everyone hates communications students!)

I would be interested in comparing our experiences with undergraduate students in the University to see what the differences are between a master’s and bachelor’s degrees are in terms of requirements and expectations. I loved having the opportunity to have the discussion class with the students, but I would also be interested to see what a typical lecture would look like.

There are definite drawbacks and advantages to each system, but I wish when I had studied abroad in Prague last year, I had taken the opportunity to take more classes directly at Charles University rather than through the study center. If I decide to go for my master’s degree someday, I would definitely consider spending another semester abroad and have a more integrated academic experience beyond the cultural experiences that I have already participated in.

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