Academic Culture

No matter which off-campus study program you participate in, your academic experience is likely to be distinct from Bowdoin.  

Students Working
A classroom in Copenhagen, Denmark.

In our experience, the small, liberal-arts institution is almost exclusively a U.S. academic/residential culture, with most other institutions having academics and student life kept separate. For example, if you choose to enroll and take courses at a university, most host universities will be larger in size and will use an academic methodology that includes larger lectures, smaller group-sized tutorials, less continuous assessment (meaning more of a focus on mid-terms and final exams.) The onus is put on the individual student to manage their own academic progress, from selecting readings to taking notes and studying past exam questions. Lectures may be more of a passive experience than seminars at Bowdoin, with tutorials the place to vocalize opinions and questions. 

Alternatively, if you choose to participate on a field-studies course, all of your coursework will be with other program participants and you will likely pursue an independently-designed research project for one of your core courses on-site. Instruction may take place in classrooms as well as in the field and related sites.

Finally, if you choose to study in a foreign language, you will challenge yourself linguistically on a daily basis by gaining fluency and conversational skills within culturally appropriate settings. Students may enroll in a combination of program classes and university classes, thereby navigating two different academic cultures. 

Regardless of the host academic culture, students can complement and enrich their academic experiences through engagement with course material not offered at Bowdoin or using distinct methodologies. 

Academic Accommodations Abroad

If you receive accommodation at Bowdoin for a documented learning disability, you should establish beforehand with your program or university whether it can make similar accommodations. While some foreign universities and programs can do so, remember that assessment in many university courses remains heavily weighted towards final examinations. Reach out to Bowdoin's Accomodations office early in your pre-departure process to begin establishing the necessary documentation.