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Unmistakable, versatile and eventful – everyday life in the USA has a great fascination for students around the globe. Many young people are longing for a real American study experience. For them, the distinct campus life is one of the main reasons for studying in the USA.
A study visit to the United States is an impressive reminder to students from Germany that a university can be more than just an educational institution. For the first time, they experience the university as a place where they can live, providing them with accommodation and food, as well as a wide range of services and leisure facilities. In the following text you will find out which special features of everyday study in the USA.
Courses in the USA
Lectures and seminars are held at German and American universities, but they are structured differently in both countries. Courses in the USA are generally more interactive than in Germany. Due to the fact that the number of participants is often limited, especially in seminars many group work and presentations take place. Discussions between lecturers and students are also common.
The personal contact between students and professors is nothing unusual at American universities. In general, the supervision of students at US universities is of great importance. Many professors are also available to answer questions from their students outside their office hours. In many cases, there are discussion classes which serve to repeat the contents of the lectures and discuss homework.
The type of study programmes in the USA determines which course types are also used. In the natural and engineering sciences, these are often laboratories, in areas such as art and design as well as music studio classes. The fieldwork courses also have a high practical relevance. They take place outside the campus.
You can find out which courses students can attend and which courses are compulsory courses in the course catalogue. It informs about the course contents and provides information about necessary previous knowledge. On the basis of course numbers and letter sequences, it is possible to draw conclusions about the course level and assign the course to a subject.
An important difference to Germany is the examination forms and the extent of the examinations at American universities. Regular performance reviews, homework and attendance checks are common. All exams together result in the final grade.
Campus life in the USA
No other country is known for offering campus life as vibrant and diverse as the USA. Most American students spend most of their free time on campus and identify with their university or college. The fact that the students not only form a learning community, but often also a shared flat means that the sense of community at many universities is very pronounced.
In addition to the top-notch teaching and research facilities and well-stocked libraries, there are countless recreational facilities on campus. One example is the Student Union, which is regarded as a central meeting place for students and often has cafés and a variety of entertainment facilities. In addition, many universities attract students with museums, cinemas, theatres and art galleries and offer students a colourful programme of events throughout the semester.
The countless sports facilities on the campus, which are available at the recreation center and in the form of sports and leisure clubs, also serve as a joint foundation. In addition, there are clubs with a political, religious, cultural, social or academic background that are open to all students.
Greek Life is also an integral part of everyday life in the USA. The student links, which are usually separated by gender, play an important role in the social life of colleges and universities, especially in the undergraduate sector. In the sororities and fraternities, female and male students join forces. They pursue academic goals or stand up for social concerns. Student fraternities in the USA also have a reputation for organizing excessive “Greek parties” and are known for their sometimes unusual recording rituals.
University Sports in the USA
The USA is one of the leading sports nations. Collegiate sport has a long tradition in the United States, which is why it plays such an important role in everyday life in the United States. Whether students want to do their own sport or encourage the university’s sports teams to play, sport is the unifying element in US universities.
University sports in the USA can be subdivided into:
- Varsity Sport / Intercollegiate Sport: Colleges and universities compete at national level in selected sports.
- Club Sports: Club teams are made up of students who have a certain amount of experience in a particular sport but who are unable or unwilling to participate in national competitions. The sports clubs of different universities occasionally compete against each other in regional competitions.
- Intramural Sports: The Intramural Sports are open to all students and also suitable for beginners. These are university sports groups that see sport primarily as a leisure activity. There are no competitions against teams from other universities.
As an alternative to organised sports, students can also make use of the university’s sports facilities. These include swimming pools, fitness studios, tennis courts and climbing halls.
In order to attract talented young athletes, American colleges and universities use sports scholarships. A sports scholarship offers the opportunity to finance a regular USA study program through sport. Scholarship holders enrol regularly in a course of study and at the same time join a selection team of the American university.
Services offered by universities in the USA
Whether it’s a study-related question or a personal problem – on campus students will find the right contact person for every issue. The American universities regard students as their customers and the customer is king. Universities and colleges are constantly trying to outdo each other with new service offerings. This can be seen, for example, in buildings such as the Student Union, which are being built up more and more, with cinemas, bowling centres or their own food court.
At American universities, students can take advantage of a wide variety of counselling services, generally differentiating between
- Academic Advising / Support: General Student Advisory Service
- International Office: Central contact point for international students
- Learning Support: Supporting offers on topics related to a specific subject or scientific work in the form of workshops or discussions.
- Personal Support and Health Center: Contact points for mental and health problems
- Career Service: Career counselling.
In addition to these traditional counselling centres, American universities often have contact points for specific target groups such as students with children or students with disabilities or chronic illnesses.
Accommodation for studies in the USA
In the USA, it is generally customary to live on campus, especially in the undergraduate sector. Some universities require all Bachelor students to live on the campus. The typical accommodation for studying in the USA is the dormitory. In the Dorms, two students often share a double room. However, there are also single rooms and rooms for a larger number of people.
As an alternative to the student dormitory, there are apartments on the campus or near the campus with a shared kitchen and bathroom. This type of accommodation is popular with students in higher semesters as well as students who complete their Master’s degree in the USA. Younger students are more likely to take advantage of a third option and find a room with a homestay.
The cost of accommodation during studies in the USA depends on the place of study, the local rental price and the type of accommodation. Students should consider in good time which type of accommodation suits them best and is compatible with their budget.
Catering during studies in the USA
Whether Asian, Italian or Mexican cuisine, fast food or lettuce – on campus, there is plenty of food during your studies in the USA. Most of the universities and colleges have a dining hall, which is most similar to a canteen. Another typical feature of American universities is the Food Courts: a collection of restaurants and snack bars that share a common seating area.
In addition, students can usually get snacks and drinks in cafés and kiosks. Some universities in the USA also have their own supermarket. This accommodates students who live in an apartment and feed themselves during their studies. Generally speaking, if you cook yourself, you can usually save the most money.
In the USA, living in student residences is often linked to a Meal Plan. This is usually available in several variants. Students can eat a certain number of meals on campus without paying for them individually.
Of course, it is also possible to eat outside the campus. Near the campus there are usually several restaurants and snack bars. Especially in the US metropolises, the offer is as diverse as the population. Here, hamburgers, steak and French fries meet salad buffet and ethnic food.
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