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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, June 19, 2024

What I Wish I Knew: School is hard

Food spread at a cafe in Barcelona.

Spoiler alert: School is hard.

Now, I know that this is a concept with which we, as Tufts students, are most likely familiar. Of course school is hard, classes are time-consuming and papers are tedious. It’s just that, for some reason, I was not expecting this to be the case while abroad.

I sort of just forgot about the fact that I would be taking real classes at a real university, and the grades I received in those classes would count towards my GPA. This past week was reading week, and I had three papers due, each worth 30%40% of my grade. Because I genuinely enjoy the classes I’m taking, I’ve been really good at keeping up with the readings, even though I knew I could get by in class discussions without reading them. But, while writing my papers this week, I can’t even express how many times I had the thought, “Thank God I did these readings; otherwise, I’d be so, so screwed.”

Being abroad doesn’t always feel real. It feels like I’m living in a fantasy world of unimaginable art, architecture, food and culture. I walk 10 minutes from my dorm, and I’m in the crowded, colorful whirlwind of Camden High Street. I attend class at the Victoria and Albert Museum. I do my homework in cafes overlooking the Thames. I fly home to London on a Sunday night and wake up five hours later for class on Monday. In no way does my life feel like reality right now, so it never ceases to surprise me that my homework is very, very real.

What makes this even more difficult is that a lot of my friends are on abroad programs that operate on a pass/fail basis. This provides so much more leeway to enjoy all there is to learn from these amazing international institutions while also enjoying all there is to learn from these incredible international cities.

To anyone reading this who wants to go abroad, Tufts abroad programs reallycount toward your GPA. This is amazing if you want to guarantee that your classes abroad count towards graduation, major or distribution requirements. The study abroad office really makes these processes so easy and is such a good resource. However, I was in a good enough place with my credits that I could have gone abroad, taken zero classes that counted toward graduation and still graduated from Tufts on time. There are days where I really wish I had looked into pass/fail programs, so I could experience the joys of learning without the stresses of grades.

It’s not like I in any way regret choosing the program I did. I just want to give a friendly reminder to those looking into abroad programs that school remains very real, even when the rest of your life feels like a dream.