Written by Alejandra Toro
MSc Nutrition and Behaviour
Hi there, I’m Alejandra, I come from Colombia and I’m doing a Masters in Nutrition and Behaviour. When comparing the study skills needed in my country and the United Kingdom, I realised there are more differences than similarities. No matter where you come from, having a basic understanding of the UK system will help you adapt better, and no worries, is not complicated.
What is different?
Postgraduate studies in the UK require you to be proactive about each assignment. This means, to speak to the teacher and find out what they really expect from you, beyond the assignment briefing sheet. This doesn’t mean you have to guess, however, the ability to constantly communicate and ask questions will give you an advantage. On the other hand, Colombia’s education system is like a mother guiding their children step by step. In other words, you will receive a lot of information for each assignment with no need to ask further.
Higher education in Colombia usually requires you to attend more classes per week that in the UK. That doesn’t mean that the British system is easier, because the academic loads are the same at the end of the day. However, having more free time requires you to become a skilful time manager and plan your days to be productive and don’t end up doing everything at last minute. Whether in Colombia there is only time to breathe and study, the UK allows you to be the master of your time. This way, with time management skills you can make the most out of your studies and have a balance life.
Although both systems require criticising with valid arguments and finding relevant evidence for your research, the main difference between them are the grades. In the UK, you must go beyond what is expected and asked for in order to achieve an excellent grade. Whether in Colombia, if you accomplish what they request (which is never easy in the first place) you will get the best grade. The UK system pushes you to go further with your critical thinking, while the Colombian is clearer about what analysis is needed.
What is similar?
General study skills
After all, postgraduate education in Colombia and the UK share some basic study skills. First, reading comprehension: although It may sound like school, scamming documents and extracting what you want in a quick way is important. Organisation: a good tip is to make a big list of things you need to do, break them down into smaller tasks and start doing something each day. Finally, take some time to exercise, eat and enjoy life, which will also help you study better. I believe that no matter where you are, having a plan and organising yourself with the study load will prevent you from stressing out and help you enjoy your studies.