Academic Differences Between Dickinson and Uni Bremen.

While studying abroad at a different university, definite differences are apparent. Before coming to Uni Bremen, I expected classes to be fairly similar to Dickinson but just larger. I soon came to realize that this was not the only difference. First, let me list all of the academic differences I have noticed between Uni Bremen and Dickinson and then I will explain each one:
1. The class size
2. The students ages
3. The “homework” and graded “assignments”
4. Semester time-frame
5. Grading system
6. The professors
The class size, at Dickinson, will not exceed 60 students and it is not uncommon for a class to have only 5 students. At Uni Bremen; however, the class size is much larger on average. To have a class with less than 20 students is not as common as having a class with 100+ students. My largest class had about 150 students. And on that note, this class of 150 or so students were composed of 4 students in their 20s and the rest of the students were over 70 years of age. To have older adults as students is not uncommon. Thirdly, the assignments for classes at Uni Bremen have a different expectation than those given at Dickinson. At Uni Bremen, the assignments given throughout the semester are typically readings listed on the syllabus. These readings will either be posted online or the student must go to a local bookstore. These readings are not mandatory, but an aid. If the class consists of discussion then reading the listed assignment(s) is recommended but again not mandatory like Dickinson. The actual graded assignments do not come until the end of the semester as one large grade. This one grade is what the student will receive for the class. This grade can either be a test, a project, an oral presentation, or a 10-15 page paper depending on the professor. As for the actual grades, they are not based off of a “A, B, C, D, F” system, but rather a point system. This point system is 1-5 in which a 1 is a perfect grade and a 5 is failing. The professors will be understanding to those who are international students, but it is very rare for professors at a German university, such as Uni Bremen, to know the names of the students. This is mainly due to the fact that most classes have over 50 students, but also because the student-professor relationship does not work at Uni Bremen like it does at Dickinson. Another academic difference between Dickinson and Uni Bremen is attendance. Unless professors at Uni Bremen take attendance and make it an important issue to not miss classes, attendance is not taken as seriously as it is at Dickinson. Nevertheless, going to class is important! …but taken lightly by the majority of students. For one of my classes – that had no attendance requirement – there was a student who came to the last day to take the final exam… This student did not come to a single day of class throughout the semester. And lastly, as for the semester, the first semester (winter semester) begins late October/early November and ends in February as opposed to late August to December.
To those of you who find the differences to be intimidating, please do not be alarmed! These differences are very easy to adjust to ;-).