Snow Days, Spring Break & Grading Differences

Hannah Tiffin
Exchange to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro 
Semester 1, 2018

In week 2 of the semester we had our first ‘Snow Day’! It’s likely quite different in Greensboro than for others on exchange in North America but here in the south, snow for more than 2hrs means everything will close. On that first snow day we had constant heavy snow for 9hrs and reached a depth of 30cm! There was sledding, snowmen and lots of selfies taken in the 2.5 days of cancelled classes. Unlike some of the other exchange students I’m living with from Finland and Estonia, I had never experienced snow in a place of day to day living only at ski resorts etc. where you expect to see snow. I was the excited kid in a candy story running around campus getting all the cute Instagrams that I could. As I’m writing this post (on the first day back after spring break) I’m sitting in the cafeteria looking out at the snow once again on our second snow day – it’s meant to be spring!

You don’t HAVE to go on some big adventure to have a good spring break! My plans for spring break were uncertain to begin with from a sea kayaking trip in south west Florida, to Orlando for Universal and Disneyworld. In the end, I went back to DC for 3 days by bus at the beginning of the break before returning on the train. I had’t realised how much I’d gotten used to big open Greensboro until the return trip as I was going through the forest about 30min to an hour out of town and I instantly felt at ease. Unfortunately I had a last minute change of plans regarding my plans for the second part my spring break trip and I ended up staying on campus for the rest of the week but it was good to spend some time by myself to recover from the first half of the semester that was free from school work. It also meant that I got to go to the SoCon basketball championship game (regional tournament) that UNCG won!

Speaking of time to recover from school work, there is so many more assessment task here than back at home. To start with, the passing grade at UNCG is 70% rather than the 50% that I’m accustomed to. For most of my units this included 4 exams, weekly quizzes, a minimum of 4 assignments and 10% for attendance. My Exercise Physiology unit is the most demanding with 4 exams and 10 weekly lab reports with at least 1000 words each as well as weekly online quizzes! A positive from this has been that each of these lab reports require extensive research (I’m now a pro at APA referencing lol) giving a deeper understanding of every topic as well as the ability to increase the word count of any piece of writing (like my >500 word blog posts here, hahaha).

So far my exchange experience has been challenging in a lot of ways but there have also been some incredibly exciting weekend activities that make it worth while. Some of which have been snowboarding in West Virginia, horse riding in beautiful scenery and line dancing in a country bar, not to mention the anticipation of upcoming trips including my big road trip at the end of the semester from New Orleans to San Francisco.