Self-motivation in the British Isles

One of the great things that the College of William and Mary does is to allow for the transfer of some credit from study abroad courses without recording grades. This isn’t to say that I’m not studying hard in my classes (Mom and Dad, if you’re reading this), but it allows me to have much more freedom. After having spent the past two weekends in the Highlands, I’ve realized that I should probably spend more time focusing on being here at St Andrews and studying.

Studying in the UK is very different from studying back home simply because of how much work there isn’t. There is nowhere near the amount of problem sets, papers or work to be handed in that I’m used to. Instead there’s a system much more predicated on the idea of readings and self-motivated work. Additionally, buying your own textbooks isn’t a requirement for taking a class, so people borrow them from the library. This has created a perfect storm: one where I don’t have anything, other than my own motivation, to keep my head in the books.

I’ve had to find a balance between these systems: Instead of being spontaneous, I now have my stay in St Andrews much more planned out. Instead of having textbooks from the library that have to be returned or renewed in fear of fees, I just went out and bought my own textbook. Instead of relying on a few examples from lectures, I worked out examples for myself. It’s made a vast improvement, things have picked up, and it’s actually provided a new and better balance to the whole academic thing.

It seems that while all the traveling and saying yes of last week was all well and good, finding a balance is much more of a process than I initially anticipated. On the other hand, every week is a new balance, and I can safely say that, over time, I find myself growing accustomed to St Andrews in ways that I hadn’t anticipated.


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