Towson University vs. Studying Abroad -- How different could it be?

Towson University vs. Studying Abroad

How different could it be?


First things first: The biggest difference between studying abroad and studying at Towson is that you are 8,000 miles away from your version of reality.

According to Towson's website, TU sits on 328 acres of land. On this huge campus, you have enough space for academic buildings, University Union, extracurricular activities, sports and much more. Towson also states that they have more than 20,000 students enrolled at the university. Most students who study abroad will choose to go to in a city, meaning the country isn’t always the first option for them. Most universities or international institutions don’t have a campus; only a few will. This semester I attended Lorenzo de' Medici - The Italian International Institute in Florence, Italy. Attending class in this city has been a game changer because it takes 30 minutes to walk to class from my home stay,  15 minutes to get to your next class if it's in another building and it will take you a while to understand the color coded street numbers and street names because they don’t have them on light posts. Florence, I’d say, lives in the 80’s/90’s. Most people don’t use fancy phones, they don’t buy expensive computers, they don’t live in really huge houses, and there is no such thing as a personal bubble. LdM’s largest class size ranges from 15 to 20 students. It’s a very intimate teaching zone.

Towson lives in the 21st century -- you can relax on the grass and study and no one will ever mess with you. Towson has large buildings that allow you ample space; normally when I would study in the Liberal Arts building, I'd have one table to myself. Some students have cars and some don’t. Towson allows their students to independently find their way as a student. Class sizes are larger at Towson ranging from 20 to possibly 60 students.  

Second thing, LdM is very on top of their students when it comes to student organizations, activities and advising sessions. When the students arrive for the first time, we must check in with our advisor and attend the orientation session. After the students meet with their assigned advisor, they are required to sign up for a second advising session. LdM advisors work very hard to help the students get to their next step.

Towson doesn’t exactly do the same. Students normally only speak to their advisors or are emailed from their advisors when class schedules or graduation requirements need to be met. Although this is only my second semester at Towson, when I changed my major and chose to study abroad I received more emails and confirmations about my academic quest than I’d ever received in my college career. I do not wish to speak for everyone on campus, but consistent advising meetings aren’t really talked about on campus.

Behold the 3rd degree; LdM does not play when it’s time to attend class. They let every student know that if you miss 3 or more classes you will receive a letter grade down from your final grade. This means that the students only really have 2 chances to miss class. A doctor’s note is the only piece of evidence that could actually get you of missing a day of class. Classes normally run for 2 hours and 30 minutes. If you’re an art student, some classes will be 6 hours long. If you are absent from class, your advisor will receive an email. Your advisor will know your every move.

Towson teachers don’t exactly penalize you for missing class. I hope a teacher won’t read this, but in America, you can email yourself out of any class. I’ve seen it happen before. Towson’s classes are large, and I don’t think that your teacher will really spend time missing you. Honestly, regardless if you like the class or not, YOU student chose and PAID for the class. It would be strange not to attend!

Last, but not least you are studying in Europe… students have access to some of the best restaurants, parties, cheap plane tickets and beautiful, non-modernized cities. Most students that I hung out with used trip advisor so that we could check out some reviews and eat at some of the best places. One of the best sandwich places in Florence would be Antico Vinaio! If you are reading this and are planning to study in Italy, go straight to Antico, it’s located on Via dei Neri. Besides the food, you meet nice people. I chose home stay so I am actually living with a host family that cooks for my roommate and I Monday through Friday. Our host family has been nothing but the best to us! I needed them more than I would have every imagined. I’ve also met some wonderful girls and guys on school trips and at Bible study. When you meet great people you also start to go out more. One of the biggest nights for Florence is Notte Bianca. “White Night” is the Italian 7pm to 7am party for the beginning of spring! Last, but certainly not least, take advantage of the cheap plane tickets that you have access to using Ryan Air.

Unfortunately, I'm having a hard time uploading pictures because I have way too many; the majority of my explorations can be seen on Facebook and Instagram.