Since this is the only the second time that Clark has sent students to SOAS as a specifically Clark study abroad program, and not having to go outside of study abroad to study here, I wanted to explain more about the courses and what is involved in Studying Abroad, if you are considerding studying abroad at SOAS please post a comment and I will get you my email address and we can talk more about the program!
SOAS Study Abroad is a unique study abroad program, because it is incredibly academic. Not to say that other study abroad courses aren’t, but you have to choose a program that you enjoy and there are no understanding the culture courses, required language courses or anything of that sort. All classes are taught in English unless it is one of the major language courses. For study abroad, we were allowed to choose courses from a special approved Study Abroad Course List. All classes are either a 1 or 2 hour lecture, and a 1 hour tutorial or discussion group. There is also a one week long reading week midway though the semester.
I am enrolled in four courses, which all happen to land on Tuesday and Wednesday, and this is really nice since for each course you have to write a 3,000 page paper but except for some presentations in tutorial groups these are really our only assignments.
On Tuesday I have 20th Century Society and Culture of Asia and Africa, this is a history course. This term we will be covering colonial societies, religion and belief and social and cultural change. I am doing my presentation this week on Work and Mobility, and my final paper will be on “To what extent did spirit possession reveal social tensions in African Societies.” I am planning on looking closely into to what extent did gender and spirits intertwine to affect African societies and their liberation from colonialism as well as other themes such as settler influence.. this is quite in the works but I really enjoying learning facts about African Spirits.
My second course on Tuesday is Nationalism, Ethnicity and State in Asia and Africa. I really enjoy this course. We have forty minutes of lecture followed by an hour or so of discussion. The discussions are always very enlightening and more like debates. We have been focusing on what does nationalism mean, what is identity and is it a made up concept or can it actually describe who you are. I just got my essay questions for this course and I think it will be quite enjoyable yet challenging. This course really makes me question everything I thought about before. What I always find interesting is how in the States, we often describe ourselves as a place where you come from but in most other places in the world you describe yourself based on where you identity yourself from. This course will continue along these lines this term, I won’t ever be around to learn much about the ethnicity part of the course because that is in term 2.
On Wednesday, I have three hours or so of lecture, so two other courses of my four courses.
I start out my morning in what I think is my favorite class, State & Politics in Africa. We focus on sub-Saharan Africa starting with colonialism and nationalism continuing through the themes to understand more about the politics of Africa as a continent. The tutorial for this class is also quite engaging and mind rattling. Every week we have to bring in a piece of news, and that helps start off a good conversation. Then we discuss the readings and lectures and get into a debate. The lecturer is also very engaging. He doesn’t use any aides for his lectures but it is so easy to follow that he doesn’t need to. I think that makes for one of the best classroom environments, especially when this is really the first time I have ever had a large lecture class.
Finally, I am taking Politics of Development. I joined this class quite late because I was in EU Law beforehand. ( Law classes at SOAS and most uni’s in England, is like Law school, not pre-law classes. I was way over my head) Luckily this course is focusing on African development this term. I could not get enough Africa at SOAS. 🙂 What I enjoy about this course is it is taking what I learn at Clark’s Urban Development and Social Change concentration, which is a series of 9 or so courses taken from a several different departments to make a well rounded understanding of what is needed in urban development. But this is about Politics of Development, so this course takes my love of politics, love of developing and mixing them up. Its also nice because I feel slightly ahead in the course when we are talking about how geography affects development etc. 🙂 So thank you Clark.
So there we go a mildly boring, with no photos, but lots of words explanation of the courses I am taking at SOAS. If you are considering studying abroad at SOAS, really look into the courses because you will have the option to take the classes on what you want to specialize in and it will make you so happy to attend lectures :). Maybe you will be lucky like me and never have class too! Haha!