The first time I looked over one of those class syllabuses I was very surprised and I realized that studying at ECU is quite different from what is the case in Germany. Let´s take a look at some amusing aspects..
It starts with the instructors and their relationships with the students. It seems to be common that students can get in contact with the teachers by relatively personal communication tools such as the cell phone. There are even professors who are on Facebook/Twitter or can be contacted by Skype which is creepy, but principally funny and comfortable. At our university in Germany the power distance is higher and the relationships between students and teachers are not that close. Basically you can be glad when they offer their email address or make an appointment with someone like you..
Differences in class meeting times
The meeting times in the US also differ from Germany. I take all of my four required classes at the Bate Building which belongs to the College of Business and usually it is necessary to attend each individual class 2 or 3 times per week. At our university in Bad Homburg you probably have more courses, but you meet only 1 or 2 times per week, although the lectures are longer and you have to spend more time in these depressing rooms instead of doing some other pointless leisure activities..
Furthermore, I highly recommend all of the students to buy and read the content of the textbooks, otherwise you will likely fail the exams. I was kind of shocked when I heard about their prices which are more than twice as high as german textbooks. However, you can get them quite easily at several campus stores, but you still have to pay a huge amount of money even if the books are in used condition.
Grading and testing differences
Other important aspects are grading and testing which differ significantly from the german implementation. You usually have 4-5 exams and several quizzes or assignments during this time. Attendance as well as participation are mostly required, which is definitely not the case in Germany, due to the fact that under most circumstances the courses are more lecture-oriented and authoritarian. The only good thing about our universities is that you can attend or leave the classes whenever you want depending on your frame of mind..
For me it is usual to just have one final course exam at the end of a semester and when you earn a minimum amount of points you will successfully pass the whole course. However, the lecture as well as the exam content is quite more difficult and extensive and you really have to understand what the instructors are talking about, because multiple-choice questions are relatively unknown in Germany. It depends on the individual student whether he is learning continuously towards the exam or if he is starting the preparation on the day before. Both of them can lead to success..
One more advice…
Compared to german universities the workload here is enormous and you definitely need a good time management and balance between studying on the one hand and especially the glittering nightlife on the other hand. I can only encourage international students to adapt to the mentioned differences, but also the Americans should take their college days seriously in order to survive the semesters. It is all about the final degree..