Study Abroad Experiences
Ella Afkham, Spring 2011
University of Sussex in Brighton, England
My spring and summer terms at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England, gave me a world of cognitive science knowledge. Personally, I emphasize the biological side of neuroscience and was very pleased with classes such as "Developmental Neurobiology" and "Neuronal Plasticity and Gene Regulation."
I learned about the most up-to-date issues in neuroscience by attending ‘Seminars in Neuroscience’ and participated by researching articles myself and sharing them with my classmates. A huge emphasis of neuroscience at Sussex is exploring how the brain interacts with different sensory systems such as vision, hearing and motor skills, which I learned about in classes such as "Neuroscience of Sensory Disorders" and "Neuroscience of Sensory and Motor Functions." Lastly, I now know the details of how our brain perceives, focuses attention and remembers, thanks to cognitive psychology.
Honestly, I do not think I would have ever learned as much about cognitive neuroscience if I hadn’t branched out and applied to Sussex. The program opened me up to so many ideas because it dealt with modern-day medical problems and the track we are on to solve them. I am seriously considering going back to Sussex after graduating from Oxy to continue my graduate program and participate in neuroscientific research.
There is not much coursework at the university, but don’t let your guard down. When it’s time to turn in essays and study for finals, it can really add up. Work on papers little by little early in the year and there will be time for studying and fun throughout the term. It was also rather intimidating when I got to class and realized that most of the students had specialized in this subject since high school or were already post-graduates finishing their degrees. Turn that intimidation into inspiration to work hard and keep up. It’s not a competition, and in my experience, staying engaged with the material leads directly to success.
Besides classes, Brighton is a fun, quirky town filled with students. After the initial culture shock and adjustment, you’ll find that it’s easy to get around and friends are always close by. I volunteered at an Alzheimer’s Society charity shop in town to get involved with the locals. At the university, I hung out with international as well as British kids. We all agreed that the biggest downside to studying at Sussex is that eventually you have to leave.