As a general rule, work patterns in courses at the university level outside of the U.S. are different from those in the U.S., which, from a non-U.S. perspective, are reminiscent of high school. It is assumed that by the time students enter university, they are capable of taking considerable responsibility for their own intellectual development and that they have both the intellectual curiosity and discipline to pursue, on their own, aspects of a course or of a topic that strike them as important and rewarding. As a result, you may at first think that very little is expected of you; it may be unsettling to find that many of your instructors do not distribute the kind of syllabus you are used to or, in some cases, any syllabus at all. They also may not propose specific assignments or required reading lists.
Since no U.S.-style syllabus may be given, important announcements regarding deadlines, papers (and topics), and exams will often be made in class. Needless to say, absence on those days may well lead to academic problems or even failure in a course, and your absence on the crucial day will not constitute a valid excuse for not doing the work expected. There are likely to be relatively few graded assignments and those may be scheduled late in the term or year. Over the course of the semester or year abroad, you will hopefully come to appreciate the very different academic system and style of learning present in your host country. Indeed, one of the most important aspects of study abroad is adapting to this different academic system with all its attendant challenges and payoffs. One of the realizations you may reach this year is that you are, to a considerable degree, free to set your own priorities, and that what you get out of a course or an experience won’t always be sanctioned by a grade or by the grade you expect.