While I wait to be dug out after our most recent blizzard, I think it would be nice to return to the city of Nottingham one last time. I have made attempts to describe my experience on the Nottingham Program time and again; first by describing some of the travel I accomplished in Europe, and then giving an account of life in a flat with nine other Luther students. It’s difficult to talk about everything that happened, but one last matter that I really ought to discuss is the University itself.
With over 30,000 students, the University of Nottingham could hardly be more different from Luther. Here in little Decorah, we pride ourselves on small class sizes and a close community; walking around campus, you’ll always be able to spot somebody you recognize. Nottingham is different. For example, my ethics lecture had over 200 students. In comparison, my most heavily populated class this semester has 22 students, and my Latin course has only 7. I definitely prefer this to the sprawling lecture halls of Nottingham, but the difference in size made me appreciate my year abroad all the more. It was good to see exactly what I skipped out on by coming to Luther.
If you take part in this program, what does Nottingham hold in store for you academically? Well, first things first, you should take advantage of the unique courses that are on offer. For example, I was able to study Advanced Logic and The Philosophy of Sex, courses without equivalent here at Luther.
Once you are enrolled in a class, you’ll want to attend it. To do so you’ll have to take two buses to reach the University. Don’t worry, though, part of your tuition will have covered an unlimited bus pass. When you arrive on campus, it’s time to walk to lecture. Hopefully you’ll have ended up close to the building you need, because it can take a long time to walk anywhere (the campus is beautiful and full of greenery. . . but also enormous!). When you have found your lecture hall, you’ll sit down for your once-weekly lecture, joined by between 70 and 300 students. After two hours, when the lecturer is finished, you will be free to return to the bus stop and head home (or you can stay on campus, study in the library, or even ride a bus straight downtown to visit a tea shop).
If all of this sounds far too impersonal for you, perhaps you will be reassured by learning that there will also be a once-weekly seminar, an hour-long period when you meet with the professor (or teaching assistant) and a dozen other students to discuss the week’s material. This session is more similar to an experience at Luther, and it gives you a chance to get to know some of the other students from your class.
The final concern is assessments, of which there are usually two. First, you will write a paper which accounts for 40% of your grade. Then, at the end of the semester, you get all the excitement of taking a final exam worth a whopping 60%! There’s no denying that finals week is more stressful across the pond than it is over here, but that shouldn’t dissuade you from the experience. After all, you’ll never feel more invigorated than when you receive your grades and learn that Yes! you really did pass after all!
I can honestly say that the Nottingham year was the most valuable experience of my Luther career, and it is one I encourage everyone to pursue.