RU Abroad with Iriss: Working Hard or Hardly Working?

Hi friends!

I know this week is reading week, so I wish you all a restful one. I’m big on self-care and I stand firmly behind the treat-yo-self concept, so I hope you enjoy staying at home all day in sweats with a tub of Haagen Daaz. Watch a whole season of something on Netflix for me!

BUSadly I don’t get a break until mid-march, seeing as how the new term began only two weeks ago. But it feels longer. And not surprisingly, my brain is still on winter break. My study habits have taken an extended leave of absence. Oh, and don’t get me started on my lack of motivation. In fact, I think it didn’t make it through the change of years. I’m in a game of where’s waldo and I think I’m losing…

What makes this whole situation even more problematic is that I am in this incredibly beautiful, intriguing place and all I want to do is explore. I am enticed by cheap flights and last-minute deals for hostels and trains. I find myself looking at Google maps when I should be writing an essay outline. I think about the castle ruins, the pastures and the wild horses that are only a few hours away from me by train when I should be reading.

AhhhhhHHHh alllll the feeeellsss why?

If there is anything keeping me on track, it’s the fact that I love my program. For the first time in my life, I can say I love all of my classes. All of them. I am in love with the subject material. I can see myself using the theories and concepts in my lectures. I feel like I won the lottery.

Ew what a nerd I want to read about her travels not about how much she loves school I’m going to close this tab now…

Wait! Don’t go yet – I’m just getting to the interesting part of this post! I promise the nerdy lovefest for school is over. In my almost three weeks of lectures and seminars, I have noticed some differences in teaching and learning environments between Canada and England.

Here is a list of differences (I do love listing things):


My lectures are two hours and thankfully are broken up into one hour blocks. Here’s what I mean:

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The hour in between gives you the chance to grab lunch or a breath of fresh air to recharge before the next lecture. It’s also great because you get the lectures out of the way – at Ryerson, it was common for me to have a three hour lecture broken up into one two hour block and a one-hour block which is often on a different day.

For my PR Campaigns and Tactics lectures, we change rooms for the second one-hour block. It was a little odd to me at first – but I learned that this was necessary to accommodate the other classes on campus.


Is it weird that I’ve never had a seminar before?? I have 3 this term, one for each class. Here you are placed in a group of about 11-12 and it gives you a chance to ask the prof/tutor about the lecture given that week or about any assignments. Attendance is taken and everyone is encouraged to say something. I like it because it’s less intimidating than a lecture and more relaxed. You also get to know the other people in your year.

In my PR Campaigns and Tactics seminar, we are assessed on a role-playing exercise. We are placed in groups and given a role to play in a press-conference; for example this week my group is the media, and we are in charge of recording the conference and questioning the PR officers. Doesn’t this sound cool??? No?? Just me?? Oh.


Here is the set of vocab I needed to adjust to:

“Unit Guide” – syllabus

“Uni” – university (As in “do you have uni today?” Or “what uni do you go to?”)

“Course” – program/major (As in “what course are you taking?”)

“Unit/module” – class


Not-so-fun fact: Bournemouth University (BU) has its own referencing system, which means… I have to learn a new referencing system. It’s not too difficult or even that much different from APA style. I just hope I don’t confuse the two when I get back to Ryerson!

One last notable difference is tuition. Since I’m on exchange I pay tuition fees to Ryerson for the semester. But, for a local, the annual tuition for the course I’m in is. I don’t even want to think about how much that is in Canadian dollars…

Some similarities I find between Ryerson and BU are the small class sizes, the hands-on approach to learning, and approachable staff. I had a brief chat with the Partnership and International Development Manager at BU who spoke very highly of FCAD. He visited it years ago and admired the facilities, namely the Rogers Communication Centre (RCC). Of course I had to echo his praises – you can take the girl out of Ryerson, but you can’t take Ryerson out of the girl, am I right?

Before I leave you to Netflix and chill, here’s my advice to anyone applying to go on exchange: I know that by now you have already submitted your application (if you’re a Ryerson student) which includes your top 3 choices of schools. I hope you did your research and chose programs that you have a genuine interest in. I hope you thoroughly looked into possible classes to take, and the structure of those classes. I also hope you looked into the ranking of your school at not just the domestic level, but in international rankings as well. If you are in the middle of this process, treat this as if you were a senior in high school getting ready for the big jump into post-secondary: ask questions and leave nothing to chance.


Until next time,