Written by Isabella Benzie
The world is a diverse place. With so many cultures in different countries, it’s definitely a key point to consider when deciding where to travel or go on exchange. Interestingly, university culture is also specific to their respective country.
One of the perks of studying abroad is being able to challenge yourself with culturally diverse environments. This is an amazing experience for you to live your student life in a completely different way, whether that be through Greek life in the USA, after-class activities in China or partying till 4 AM in Europe.
The college experience of an American study abroad is full of stereotypes that come from TV and film. However, there are some nuggets of truth of American College Culture that you’ll surely enjoy.
The university life centres around sports – American football and basketball especially. Most universities are found in ‘college towns’, which are cities whose economy and culture are greatly impacted by the local universities. This means being surrounded by people going through the same college experience. The most well-known stereotypes, of course, are the football games where the whole town shuts down, parties like there’s no tomorrow and goes crazy for their team.
A point of difference between American university culture and other cultures around the world is the lack of a bar and club scene in the U.S. due to their legal drinking age of 21-years old. Don’t be disheartened though! This is replaced by ‘Greek life’; fraternities and sororities throw parties regularly, so befriend someone in these ‘societies’ and you won’t even miss the alcohol.
Asian universities, specifically China, are gaining reputation with 5 of their universities in the Top 200 Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2000. Their university cultures are not just focused on their strong academia. After class activities – similar to Australian Universities’ societies – are extremely popular. They provide a great way to meet new people and have a break from university work.
Night markets in China are an experience you can’t miss out on. Enjoy the bustling night life while grabbing some cheap BBQ food and a drink together. Another part of night life for university students is karaoke. Singing your heart out with friends means that you can forget about any kind of school stress!
Many say they find it easier to make strong connections in Chinese university life due to their ‘class system’. Most universities adopt the notion of ‘class’ in the faculty. Students belonging to the same class will be gathered together in mandatory courses and professional courses, unlike in western universities where students attend courses with different students each course in each semester.
European university culture is less campus-focussed. Most students tend to live close to home when attending university and live in shared apartment flats as they are a great way of social networking.
Fraternities and societies are less common, but university culture is focused around the different festivals throughout the year. For example, in Germany, Oktoberfest is a 16-day festival in Munich which involves drinking beer and German traditions. This is dominated by university students and festivals like these are seen across Europe.
In Pamplona, Spain, there is the annual Running of the Bulls where crazy adrenalin-filled people – mostly university students – run on the streets and are followed by a number of angry bulls. This festival is accompanied by great traditional food and parties.
Culture varies greatly from region to region and your university experience can differ depending on your chosen study location. You’ll come out of exchange feeling more culturally-aware, picking up on the small mannerisms that pervade the culture but are never explicitly mentioned.
It’ll almost be like you’re in on the secrets of the city.
No matter what the typical university student life, it is almost guaranteed that studying abroad will be the best way to experience it!
To find out about the different types of universities and the experiences they offer, browse our wide selection of University Profiles.