Academic Experience at UHerts

Author: Desarae Poier

Navigating English Higher Education

Hey Ed Abroad! My name is Desarae, and I am in my final year of my BSc. Biology here at VIU. This fall, I had the opportunity to study abroad at VIU’s sister school, the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield, England. In this blog, I wanted to highlight my academic experience at UHerts.

As a BSc. Student, I was nervous about taking classes in another country, and how they would affect my degree here at home. Being in my final year, I have very specific requirements I need to graduate, and was over the moon when I found a school and country that would meet my graduation requirements!

While the range of courses offered at VIU is broad, I was really excited to reach outside my comfort zone and take classes VIU doesn’t offer. Learning from both academic and industry professionals, in a different country with a very different education system really opened my eyes to the opportunities for new grads out in the world! I ended up taking some really cool classes: Microbiology of Disease, where we focused on disease causing agents and how to treat them, Translation of Science into Medicine, which detailed the lengthy process of developing pharmaceuticals, Molecular Medicine, which focused on cutting edge genetic treatments, and Immunology, where we focused on the deep intricacies of the immune system.

While I could nerd-out about how cool my classes were to anyone who will listen (seriously, just ask!) I actually really appreciated the differences between Canadian and English school systems. Some differences include the breakdown of grades, and how self sufficient the UK is during the semester, something that I really excel at. Furthermore, my classes (or modules as known in the UK) were taught by teams of professors; each an expert in their respective field that would teach two or three weeks before handing over a new unit to a new professor. I found the material I learned easier to understand, because each professor was passionate about a specific subject, and that came across in their lectures.

Beyond the incredible team based approach to learning, industry guest lecturers gave talks 2-3 times in my classes, giving real world perspective and advice to students. The ability to ask questions and get real information for future jobs was INVALUBLE, and probably what I enjoyed most.

Another opportunity I had while at UHerts was to tour the animal research lab on campus. While I wasn’t taking any classes that utilized this lab, I got to meet with some of the Masters students and talk about their research on campus. Even though I’ve never been in a working animal lab, I was very familiar with the protocols and tests they were performing, due to my prior experience at VIU. Getting to see firsthand what I had only covered in lectures was very cool, and made me appreciate research and the extensive safety and ethics requirements that go into it.

Overall, my academic experience at UHerts was all that I could have hoped for and more. Making friends, getting to travel and Europe and experiencing culture firsthand is a whole other post, but the “study” part of Study Abroad was truly incredible, and I encourage anyone thinking about it to reach out!