The 12 main differences between studying in the US and the UK

Frat parties, alcohol bans and jail-like dorms


For the past four months I've been studying at the University of Vermont (UVM) in the US, and it's safe to say they do things rather differently across the pond.

The rooms are more prison-like than your cheapest room in uni halls, and the frat parties are exactly like what you see in the movies. There's no shortage of men calling one another "brother".

Here's some observations of the biggest differences between going to uni in the UK and the US.

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You can't buy booze in the supermarket

Just like you see in the movies, alcohol and supermarkets is a big no no. Yes, you actually have to go to a separate store to buy it. Shocking, I know.

The whole liquor store experience makes you feel like you're some sort of criminal. Most places in Vermont wouldn't accept driving licences to buy alcohol, so we had to carry passports everywhere.

Also, it's illegal to carry booze around unless it's in a bag. Nope, it's not just something cool they do in movies.

The dorm rooms make the cheapest uni accommodation look like a palace

It's hard to believe that halls could get much worse than your cheap uni option like Taly North in Cardiff, but I assure you, it's possible.

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If you complain about the state of Taly North (left), you need to check yourself.

When I opened the door on the first day, I turned to my parents as if to say 'get me out of here'. The cage-like beds with bars I could only assume were to keep us rowdy Brits out of trouble.

Frat houses are exactly what you see on films

The houses are as lavish, if not more so than shown on films.

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The house has a turret for gods sakes. America pictured left, Cardiff University student housing, right.

A frat boy once kindly offered me a tour of their mansion and it was an eye-opener to say the least.

We walked through the ballroom (yes ballroom) where they host events such as 'champagne and shackles' event, where you're handcuffed to your date and drink champagne all night. Fancy.

The pres budget extends further than ours

Cardiff pres budget rarely extends past a few pints of Carling, and maybe the occasional Lidl prosecco.

I can't say I've ever come across a beer keg at any party at Cardiff Uni, and it's kind of disappointing. One party we attended consisted of limitless keg stands and boys jumping off the roof.

Americans cannot drink for toffee

You'd think that their experience with frat parties would turn them into well-rounded drinkers, but comparing them to Brits, Americans have no clue what they're doing when it comes to alcohol. 90 per cent of the bar will be them drinking lite beer, complaining they're 'wasted' after two bottles.

Yeah, they can do a mean keg stand, but their alcohol excellence pretty much stops there.

You think UK uni boys can be sexist, think again

Ever wondered why no one hears about sororities having parties? They're simply not allowed. It's law that a group of girls having a party is deemed a brothel. Nuts, I know.

American boys say they benefit from this crazy rule, however, because "they get invited to our parties, and it means the girls never have to get in trouble with noise complaints".

I mean, I think they'd rather equality over getting a noise complaint, Brad, but sure.

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Always remember – Saturdays are for the boys

The whole Greek Life culture is bizarre

For those of you who don't know, Greek life consists of fraternities (boys) and sororities (girls), who come together to promote brotherhood and sisterhood through philanthropy, community participation and leadership. You basically pay a load of money to live with a group of like-minded, or should I say like-pocketed people. What's wrong with halls?

Fraternities especially are OBSESSED with the idea of brotherhood, they call each other 'brother' (let me tell you this gets pretty tedious), and do almost everything together.

There's dogs everywhere

Maybe this one isn't as widely mentioned as the others, but frat dogs are one of my favourite parts of the Greek life culture. The lavish frat houses will have a designated frat dog, often called something like 'Brady' to resemble their football king, obvs.

It's also worth noting that bringing your dog to college in America is completely normal. People would even bring them to lectures. It's seriously bizarre seeing a little puppy roaming round your halls when you get back pissed from a night out.

Everyone smokes weed

Weed is legal in Vermont, meaning you find it everywhere. Walking to a lecture, weed. Sitting in your dorm room, weed. The beach, weed. At one frat party, a 'frat brother' brought out this humungous briefcase, eager to show us what was inside.

Turns out, he just wanted to show us his collection of bongs. We were even made to guess how much his most prestigious bong was, a pretty pricey $400.

Freshers' Week is a bit of a joke in the US

Ok, so they basically don't even have Freshers' in the US. They have a 'welcome week', which is completely booze-less. How do you expect me to make any friends sober, is this some kind of sick joke?

As a group of Brits however, we simply couldn't abide to this rule. A Chillys bottle became my best friend that week, it was never empty.

Welcome week consists of a convocation ceremony, where everyone lights a candle and officially commits to the university. It was all rather strange, but fun nonetheless.

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Every dorm has an RA to keep an eye on you

This was quite possibly the WORST part of studying in America. The RA, residence assistant, would fine us for everything and anything. It's safe to say this American wasn't as enamoured by us Brits as everyone else.

Every time she saw or smelt booze we were reported. Speaking loudly after 11pm? Reported. More than six people to a room? Yep, that's a report. UK students consider yourself lucky, because the RA life is a bitch.

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Professors actually care about their lectures

The class sizes average at around 30 students, and last for a maximum of one hour 15 minutes, compared to my four hour monstrosities at Cardiff.

Lecturers barely use boring PowerPoints, they actually make their lectures interactive! Imagine that. One lecturer took us to a Senator's office to ask questions about the American political system.

My time at UVM was actually the best four months of my life, even if I did have to sneak alcohol into my dorm and put up with a dorm mother.

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