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British School vs. American School

by Darci Miller

Upon arriving in London for study abroad, I was initially amazed by how normal everything felt. I mean, everyone speaks the same language – how different could things possibly be? But two days later, as I was standing in an endless line and waiting to register for classes, I realized that some things here might not be quite the same.

While the lack of a language barrier definitely helps (we all know what a “lift” is, right?), the British school system does its own thing. Most British universities are three years rather than four and get this: the first year doesn’t even count. That’s right! If Brits want to slack off their entire first year of “uni,” they absolutely can. Of course, it’ll affect their ability to get work placement but it won’t mean anything when it comes to their degrees. This means a whole ton of drinking and skipped lectures followed by two years of mountains of work.

In America, handing in an assignment means printing it out and giving it to your professor. Not across the pond: Each assignment needs some sort of cover sheet that’s provided to you on Blackboard (or the “Virtual Learning Environment”) and needs to be handed into the department office. Not the lecturer or seminar tutor, but the department office. Does this make sense?

The grading system is different as well. One hundreds are completely unheard of: Eighty is basically the equivalent of a perfect score so don’t freak out about getting a 60 – that’s a decent grade here! There are all sorts of different labels assigned to seemingly arbitrary numbers and not even the educators have any idea why it’s done like this. Trust me, I’ve asked.

And then, of course, there’s registering for classes. British students only take classes in their “course,” or major so when associate students attempt to take classes in multiple courses, the online system isn’t equipped to handle it. You may be able to take out books from the school library using a touch screen and a scanner, but you have to run around to the different departments and have them physically sign you up for classes. I never thought I’d miss waking up early for my registration time back in the states!

Bottom line: No matter where you study abroad, you’re going to have culture shock, even if it means writing papers with footnotes instead of in-text citations. Just smile and chalk it all up to experience!

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all '80s pop culture (the cheesier the better!), and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big, and believes the sky’s the limit!


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March Madness Alternatives

by Darci Miller

They say that April showers bring May flowers but March brings March Madness. This is the time when college basketball fans feverishly compile brackets and glue themselves to their TVs. I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all lost someone to March Madness, as the afflicted individual shuts themselves away from society for several weeks, but there’s always the chance that your bracketology wasn’t quite up to scratch this season. If your top seeds were eliminated early on, you may find yourself with a March entirely free from basketball obligations.

So what to do with yourself? Now that it’s officially springtime, you could always venture outdoors. Temperatures are rising and flowers are beginning to bloom, so there’s no better time to sit in a local park and take a break.

On the flip side, isn’t it just about time for midterms? I know it gets harder to study the warmer it gets (as I sit here watching interviews with “The Hunger Games” cast instead of writing a paper) but summer is on the horizon and I know you have some gas left in your tank, right? Hey, if I can write 2,000 words about Brutalist British architecture, you can handle your class assignments, too!

The coming of summer also means that the search for the perfect internship is in full swing. Though it’s fairly late in the season to be getting into the internship game, there are still countless positions looking to be filled. Now’s a great time to brush off your resume, hit up the campus career center and start applying.

Bank account looking a little dry? There’s never a wrong time to be applying for scholarships for next semester! (Though, if you’re reading this on the Scholarships.com blog, I’m sure you already know that!) Trust me: As someone who received a $4,500 stipend for a little extra study abroad wiggle room, I can tell you that it’s worth the effort.

See, just because your basketball team is a lost cause doesn’t mean March has to be!

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier, the better!) and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big and believes the sky’s the limit. This semester, Darci is studying abroad in London and will share her international experiences here.


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Traveling While Abroad

April 5, 2012

Traveling While Abroad

by Darci Miller

My backpack is packed, my tickets are printed, my passport is at the ready and my camera is fully charged. My train to Paris leaves in exactly three hours and one minute and from there, a few friends and I begin a three-week backpacking tour across Europe. Our stops include a city I’ve wanted to visit since the fourth grade (Copenhagen), the world center of the Olympic movement (Lausanne), one of my favorite cities in the world (Venice) and two cities in which I was considering studying abroad (Munich and Berlin). Am I excited? You could say so.

Studying abroad is the perfect opportunity to achieve any travel dreams you may have. Money is, of course, an obstacle but there are ways to travel on the cheap, especially in the European Union. For an extended trip like mine, the Eurail pass is a great option, letting you choose your number of travel days and countries. There are also Megabus deals between countries starting at next to nothing, plus discount airlines.

Airlines can charge an arm and a leg for checked baggage so it’s smart to fit everything you need into a carry-on or backpack. Invest in a sturdy one and remember to pack light! Bring clothes that can easily be mixed and matched (and ladies, a great space-saving option that gives you tons of outfit choices while traveling is bringing shorts and tights instead of pants if it’s warm enough!).

It’s also important to remember to book travel as early as you can to save on transportation and hostel costs. When it comes to hostels, try to stay in places that your friends have stayed in before you; personal recommendations are always a plus. Don’t be too worried about sharing rooms with strangers, either: Most places have lockers where you can keep your stuff safe and most people staying in hostels are in the exact same boat as you.

As for an itinerary, my friends and I don’t have one. We know when we have to be at the train station and we have a list of things to do in each city but that’s it. We’ve discovered that part of the fun is wandering around and seeing what we stumble across – don’t be afraid to leave some things to chance!

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier, the better!) and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big and believes the sky’s the limit. This semester, Darci is studying abroad in London and will share her international experiences here.


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Meet Scholarships.com’s Virtual Interns: Darci Miller

by Darci Miller

Hey there! My name’s Darci and I’m one of Scholarships.com’s new virtual interns!

I’m a native New Yorker about to finish my sophomore year at the University of Miami, aka “The U.” Yes, there’s a great party scene, warm weather almost all year round and the beach.

But that’s not why I’m here! Actually, I don’t party much at all, I’m pale, think the hot and humid weather is brutal, and have yet to hit the beach. Crazy, right? I came to UM because it’s a top 50 school (and on its way up in the rankings), has awesome programs in the areas I’m interested in, is located near a great city with lots of opportunities and offered me great financial aid. What can I say? Breaking stereotypes is fun!

I’m double majoring in journalism and sport administration. I’ve always loved to write and the Olympics are my passion (let’s not talk about my chief rooting interest, the Mets), so my majors are a really cool way to combine the two. I write for UM’s newspaper, The Miami Hurricane; I’m currently the assistant sports editor but will be leaving the sports desk next semester to be the opinion section editor. I also work at the campus’s wellness center and volunteer for the athletic department from time to time.

In my spare time – wait, spare time? What’s that? I’ve never heard of that concept before! Well, if this “spare time” you speak of actually existed, I’d spend it listening to Bon Jovi, watching "Castle," reading Harry Potter, baking and drawing.

I’m really excited to share my knowledge and experiences with the readers of Scholarships.com. Not only will it be a great learning experience for me, I hope I can be informative/helpful/entertaining/all of the above to other people.

I think this’ll be a fun ride! Join me, won’t you?


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MythBusters: The College Edition

by Darci Miller

Have you ever watched “MythBusters,” the show that scientifically tests myths and urban legends, like are elephants really afraid of mice or is it possible to walk on water? Now, I may not have a crash test dummy named Buster, but I do have two years of dorm life, on- and off-campus adventures and brutal assignments under my belt. Therefore, I bring to you "MythBusters: The College Edition."

Myth 1 – College is a constant party. Thirsty Thursday is a very real phenomenon. There are people that go out partying on Mondays. Some students come to class still drunk from the night before. But if you venture into the library on Friday evening, there are people there. College is hard work, it’s not all “Animal House.”

Myth 2 – Dorm life is disgusting. Yes, the toilets and sinks may clog occasionally and your roommate could be a vile person who steals your food and leaves garbage on your bed. But if everyone’s respectful, bathrooms are honestly fine and you may end up loving your freshman roommate and living together for multiple years...like me and mine!

Myth 3 – Professors don’t care. High school teachers beat this one into your brain, right? College professors may not remind you about daily readings but they will let you know when a test or big assignment is coming up and are happy to answer questions about them.

Myth 4 – You’ll gain weight. Eat normal-sized portions, throw in a vegetable here and there and hit the gym. This very simple recipe will ensure the Freshman 15 doesn’t even cross your mind...or waistline.

Myth 5 – You’re going to change your major numerous times. It’s fine if you do but if you know what you want to study and still love it after taking a few classes, you probably won’t. Don’t feel weird about not changing your major: Some people are just focused...you’re lucky if you’re one of them!

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier the better!), and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big, and believes the sky’s the limit!


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No Job This Summer? It’s Not As Bad As You Think!

by Darci Miller

If you’re of the age to need the services offered by Scholarships.com, you’re also most likely of the age where summer is no longer the carefree, lazy paradise it once was. Back then, it was filled with summer camp, ice cream, beach days and late nights. But now? Now it’s all about gaining work experience.

If you’ve yet to hit this point, enjoy this summer. The real world of job-hunting is coming up fast. Hours spent working on your resume and cover letter, days spent emailing companies with internship listings, weeks spent waiting (and waiting...and waiting), potentially all for naught. And then there’s all the time spent pounding the pavement for a minimum wage job, only to get turned away from all of those as well. It’s not fun. Trust me, I’ve been there.

If you’re in this situation (and if you’re anything like me), you’re tearing your hair out at the prospect of doing nothing for three months. But look at the bright side: A recent study conducted by Australian National University found that, income notwithstanding, having a bad job is worse than having no job for your mental health. So you’ll be happier doing nothing than you would be at that lame job anyway!

But that still leaves you with approximately 90 empty days to fill, right? It really is important to get experience, so don’t let the summer go to waste. Try to volunteer somewhere to keep busy and keep your spirits up – and it’ll be something great to add to your resume if you do find something related to your major!

You can also take this time to do something you don’t have time for while attending school. Read that book you’ve been eyeing, rekindle an old hobby, start a blog. But no matter your plans, be sure to make this summer a good one!

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier the better!), and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big, and believes the sky’s the limit!


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How to Not Kill Your Roommate

by Darci Miller

Before college, the only time I’d ever shared a room with someone was at sleep-away camp. Living in a bunk with a dozen other girls was certainly an experience but I was still nervous about moving in with my freshman roommate. We’d talked on Facebook but never met in person and all of a sudden we were supposed to live together harmoniously.

Not only did we survive that first year without killing each other but we successfully lived together sophomore year and will be moving back in together in August for year number three. Pretty good for a first roommate experience! While I lucked out in finding someone I’m totally compatible with, I think our trick was abiding by several unwritten rules.

First and foremost is respect. We never touch each other’s things (including food) unless we get permission to. At the same time, there are certain things we share: Her printer is mine to use as I need it (as long as I help pay for ink), she has full privileges with my television and then there was the time we bought a jar of Nutella together. Respect also involves being quiet when you come in at 3 a.m. and keeping sexiling to a bare minimum (no pun intended).

Compromising is important as well. You’ll have to learn to go to sleep with the lights on now and then (I did) or plug in your headphones if your roommate wants to turn in early. If you both go in knowing that you’ll have to give a little, you’ll make each other’s transition much easier.

In my opinion, the most important aspect of living together is liking each other! You don’t have to be BFFs but spend some time together and find something to bond over. Do you both hate the Yankees? Are you both huge OneRepublic fans? Heck, do you both like Nutella? It can be the littlest things that form a great relationship and make living together a pleasure.

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier the better!), and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big, and believes the sky’s the limit!


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Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

by Darci Miller

After spring semester ended, I was lucky enough to take part in a birthright trip to Israel. For 10 days, I traveled around the country with 40 other kids from the University of Miami’s Hillel. I had always heard that this trip was life changing but before I went, I was a total skeptic. Having lived through it, though, it definitely was a truly amazing experience.

As a part of the trip, our group was joined by eight Israeli soldiers currently serving in the army. Israelis are drafted into the army as soon as they finish high school, so these soldiers were all more or less our age. My time spent with these soldiers was the single most powerful experience of my life.

I spent a lot of time on the bus with a girl named Tal. As we talked, I quickly discovered that we have a lot in common – we are both 20, soft spoken, want to travel the world someday, and love “Friends” and “That ‘70s Show” – but just because she was born in Israel, she’s in the army while I attend college. I saw myself in Tal. If I had been born in Israel, I would be her.

There was also Yogev, who’s in the parachute division and dreams of being a chef and opening his own restaurant. And Dafna, shorter than my 5’2” self, the sweetest person ever, and an officer in the army. And Sachlav, lithe and blonde, whose job it is to train soldiers for combat. I thought we’d have nothing to talk about but in interacting with these soldiers, I learned that we truly are all the same. We may come from different worlds but at the core, we’re no different.

I think this is a valuable lesson to take into college. Just because someone seems different doesn’t mean they are. We all have things in common; the trick is to push yourself out of your comfort zone and find them.

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier the better!), and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big, and believes the sky’s the limit!


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Do AP Classes Really Prepare You for College?

by Darci Miller

I was ambitious in high school, taking nine Advanced Placement classes in three years (five during my senior year). And if I heard it from one teacher, I heard it from them all: “This is what college is like! So get used to this amount and caliber of work!”

In my APs, I never had a free second. I was always doing homework and had to cut back on other activities because I was always drowning in my studies for one class or another. My parents would tell me it was good preparation and that it’d make college seem easy. My response? “There’s no way it could be harder!”

And guess what? It’s not. Yes, there’s a lot of work (depending on the class), tests can be hard and require a lot of studying and honors classes require more of you than regular classes (let me tell you – college honors classes are no joke!) but you don’t have every class every day. You don’t come home with calculus, government, biology, Italian and art homework every night, only to complete it and repeat the cycle the next day.

Most of the time, college homework is due a week after it’s assigned; even when it’s not, you have at least 48 hours until you have that class again. It’s a glorious thing! It was a bit of a shock to my system to have chunks of my day left open for whatever but if I plan it well, I can finish all my work by Wednesday and (gasp!) coast a little bit at the end of the week.

The bottom line is that college is probably the same amount of work as a high school schedule full of AP classes – it’s just different. So if you’re in APs now, breathe easy: You won’t be drowning in homework forever!

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier the better!), and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big, and believes the sky’s the limit!


Comments

Attending College Away vs. In-State

by Darci Miller

When I first began looking at colleges, I knew right away that I didn’t want to attend school locally. I wanted to forge my own way away from home and none of New York’s state schools really interested me. I did apply to one in-state school (Syracuse) that’s a multiple hour drive away from home but ended up not going there.

Starting at Miami was a bit of a culture shock. I went from seeing familiar faces everywhere in high school to being the one solitary Baldwinite at college. There are several others from my high school at Miami but they’re older than me and we’ve never interacted before. I was entirely on my own. My friends, on the other hand, moved on from high school in a very different way: Almost everybody I know attends college with at least one other person from high school and SUNY Binghamton is now the home of more than 20 members of my graduating class, many of whom now live together.

Sometimes, I’m a little bit jealous. If vacation days don’t line up, I’ll be sitting in my dorm room reading Facebook updates about how everyone’s getting together back at home – people can’t afford to fly down to Miami to visit one friend but they can afford to drive to Binghamton to visit dozens of them – but embarking on a college journey miles away from home does have its positives.

By going to school away, you’ll get to miss out on all the stupid high school drama inherent in high school friendships. You’ll be able to make an entirely new group of friends without worrying about what your old friends think of you or of them. You can reinvent yourself entirely if you want to, become your own person and return home new, improved and blissfully unaware of who kissed who and who now hates who. Trust me, you won’t miss it!

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier the better!), and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big, and believes the sky’s the limit!


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