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12 Surprising Differences Between US and UK Universities

We’ve all seen the movies and know that college life in America is vastly different to uni life in the UK.

Whether you’re thinking of studying or pining for what could be, here are 12 ways in which uni life in the States is definitely a world apart:

1. The food

US students never go hungry, especially if they have an unlimited meal plan, just one swipe away from an all-you-can-eat buffet. This is quite unlike the UK where, by the end of the semester, you’re living off beans and chopped tomatoes on toast because you’ve almost completely run out of your loan.

Even without a meal plan, you can sometimes use the dining hall for as little as $5, then eat all the food you possibly can and get a box to go.

2. Halls and Accommodation

You only get the luxury of your own room in the US for a small fee; probably what your tuition fees and normal accommodation fees combined would be. So if you don’t fancy dishing out on that, a roommate it is!

You soon get over your lack of personal space and may actually end up becoming best friends. You may even be lucky enough to get bunk beds. Score.

3. Facilities

The sports and general student facilities in America are generally top notch, unlike the sketchy sports and fitness centres you see in the UK. The best part of this is that it’s all free unlike Britain, giving you no reason not to go.

Think this is too good to be true? Wait until you realise the amount you pay for your student bill, then you’ll feel a little less smug about it.

4. Professors

Professors in America will always go out of their way to help you. They’ll let you re-do their work if you’re not happy with your grade or will offer extra credit so you can boost your grade. Extra credit is literally free marks, just let that sink in for a minute. Free marks?! Literally unheard of in Britain.

They will always read through your drafts and always seem happy to see you, quite touching when you compare it to the professors back in the UK who make you struggle to find an excuse to turn up to lectures.

HP love gif

5. Cars and petrol money

It must be a combination of the price of gas and the fact Americans are so friendly (and maybe slightly because of your accent too), but Americans love using their cars at university and will more than happily be designated driver.

Not only this, but they will also let you use it too if needs be, a magical concept when you think about how your friend’s car will sit unused outside their university house. If you do use it to go anywhere, a steep price is paid or accompanied with moaning that you should have walked instead.

6. Pets

In the UK, pets are only seen when you go back home or when you’re hiding a hamster from your landlord/halls officer. However, on American campuses you’ll see an abundance of cute puppies take over.

Admittedly it’s a lot of money that could be put to other uses (like drinking) and limits the stuff you can do, but it’s surely worth it? Who can argue with this face?


7. School Spirit

When studying in America you can’t help but notice that everyone loves supporting their school sports teams and constantly wear the college teams’ attire to show their love.┬áThere’s always some celebration or gathering taking place in honour of the school’s newest victory.

Unfortunately this is quite unlike back in GB where you’re lucky if you get anyone outside of the AU that’s excited about Varsity. The competition between colleges means you end up with a real sense of school pride in the States, and will often find yourself talking to strangers wearing your team’s football shirt.

8. Workload

The workload is considerably bigger, but the work is worth less of a percentage towards your overall grade. If you do badly in an assignment it’s not the end of the world because it’s only worth 10%, unlike your whopping 50% exams back home.

You also have tests for nearly every class, adding up to a ‘daily grade’, but as long as you’ve done the reading, you’re sorted. These tests also become a godsend because it takes the pressure off your midterms and finals.

9. Grading

Coming from a place where it’s a miracle to break 70% on your work, you come to America and suddenly realise you can get 100% on things. What.

No matter how many times you get 90%+ on your work, you still feel like you’ve become a genius, destined for Mensa.

elated gif

10. Classrooms

You’re no longer in massive lecture theatres but back to secondary school – yes that’s right, you’re in a classroom. With the stereotypical American half desks that you’ve seen on TV shows.

As well as this, they serve as the informal setting where you will sit all your exams. Somehow, because there’s no strict exam regime, the pressure eases off somewhat.

fist pump

11. Keen-ness in lectures/class

People always turn up to ‘class’ and when they’re there, people are very keen to answer questions and show off their knowledge, which is basically the opposite to how lectures and seminars are in the UK.

On your first day you look horrified and wide-eyed in shock at the fact someone is talking and wanting to participate. What is this sorcery?! Still, you embrace the American way and end up becoming a keen bean too.

12. Campus

Walking around your university campus will often leave you feeling like you’re walking around some regal stately home. The buildings are ridiculously grand and make your dull, small lecture buildings back home seem like something off Shameless.

If you’re studying abroad this doesn’t exactly make you enthusiastic to return back to your home university, those boring buildings compared to such beautiful representations of grandeur are definitely something to cry about.

so beautiful

Though it may seem that American uni life is better in most ways, we can’t help but hold a loyal preference for our own. Who needs higher grades and puppies, anyway?

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