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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, December 3, 2023

What I Wish I Knew: European university calendars are super different

View from the top of the Prince’s Palace in Monaco.

When I applied to study at the Tufts in London Program at University College London, I was made aware that I would have to be in school for two terms. The first would take place January through March and would contain 10 weeks of classes. Then, I would be on break from March 25 to April 25, whereupon I would then return to school for the “exam” term.

This was unbelievably thrilling for me. The thought that I would have an entire month off to spend traveling sounded absolutely incredible, even if it meant that I would then have to come back to London and quickly return to school mode in order to take my exams.

However, what I did not know is that, in actuality, a lot of professors make their exams due either before the break, or, if you are studying humanities or social sciences (like me), most of your exams will just be papers that you can turn in online anyway. In fact, professors will often give you your essay questions as early as March 1, just so you can get a head start.

What this meant: If I played my cards right, I could finish every single one of my final papers by the end of March and then have two and a half months with a prepaid lease in Europe and time to do whatever I wanted.

What I Wish I Knew: This is not necessarily a good thing.

Two and a half months is a long time with no structure, something I don’t do very well with. I really like to keep busy and feel productive, and I get the most profound ants-in-my-pants if I’m sitting inside for too long.

On top of this, universities outside of London don’t necessarily follow this same schedule, so not many of my friends studying in various programs across Europe are around to travel with me during this time. Most of my friends from UCL don’t prioritize travel as much as I do, or their families are coming to visit some of the weeks that I’m available.

Still, I’ve managed to fill up a good chunk of these next couple months with some truly awesome trips, so I most certainly am not trying to complain. I just wish I had known more about the European academic system before arriving here and realizing my entire academic experience abroad would be done by April 1.

As we get to that point in the year when many of you sophomore readers are filling out your abroad applications (Yay! Go you guys!), I definitely recommend making sure you understand your school’s academic calendar, because, if you’re anything like me, it’s always better to be prepared.