The answer: they’re not the same in the UK and the US (this is becoming a running theme).
Let’s start with sports. On Friday, I went to a Bath Rugby game with a bunch of other students and a couple of staff members. The most predominant thing that I was feeling for the whole game was cold, as it actually started snowing and I had not prepared for that, my hands got very very cold, I ended up buying a tea and not drinking any of it, just holding it to keep my hands warm. But none of that is the interesting part. Growing up, the only sport that I’ve really been to games for has been soccer, primarily women’s college soccer and my own and my sister’s games. So I didn’t really have any background in sports or watching sports games. And let me tell you, it takes a bit to get used to watching rugby. But primarily, it’s actually a really fascinating sport to watch. People get lifted in the air, people get tackled, and boy are scrums odd but cool to watch. Honestly, I was amazed at how few injuries there were in a sport that is basically a combination of soccer and football, two contact sports, but without any pads or anything. But everyone there was so into the game, Bath is a rugby town rather than a soccer town. The entire stadium was full, and when the outcome of the game came down to a single kick by the Bath Rugby team, the entire stadium went entirely silent. I have never been to a game where every single person in the stadium went silent, it was pretty cool. And then when the kick was made, and it soared through the goal posts, it was definitely not silent, people cheered and jumped around. I will say that rugby is not football, the people who play rugby do not look like the people who play football. But I do think that people who watch sports and are invested in sports, are all the same. People cheer together and follow the game together, and that’s a pretty cool thing.
As this is a study abroad program, there is a study element to it, meaning classes. In the US, if a professor assigns a reading, then you are expected to read it before class. Here, a professor would put many readings on the syllabus, and you read what you think you’ll find interesting and come back with notes on it for the next class. And sometimes it isn’t even that, for my Drama course, we are assigned to read the play, and then do our own research about the playwright and productions of the play. The classes also feel a lot more geared towards what the students are interested in, although that could be a product of the smaller class sizes. As well, in lecture classes in the US, one can just walk out of the class to go to the bathroom or whatever else is needed. However in the UK, professors find it alarming to have people just walk out. I think that some of this comes from the idea in the US that professors are not as connected to students, that their job is to lecture and keep going, and the students’ job is to take notes or do whatever they feel they need to in order to learn. But classes here feel more like a collaboration between students and professors, discussion is more between both sides rather than a professor setting a question and guiding a discussion that is among students. I don’t think I would be able to say whether one works better or not, but they definitely are different.