I did a trimester abroad at the University of Essex Southend Campus in Autumn Term 2018. The University of Essex has two campuses in Colchester (main campus) and Southend, in my opinion, both about 50 miles apart. MicroEDU provided me with time-consuming support with the application process, which helped a lot.
The only problem is that the BAföG office does not cooperate, since the trimester lasts 11 weeks and 6 days and trimesters are only funded from a duration of 13 weeks. The contradiction that the home university supports the secondment, etc., has also brought nothing, so that if you do not want to complain, you are financially on your own.
In advance it is important to consider which courses you would like to choose for your trimester abroad, for me the more interesting courses took place on the Southend Campus, so I decided on this location. As a master’s student, however, there are fewer courses in Southend. When choosing the courses you have to pay attention to the final number, if this is 7 or 8, it is a master’s course, everything below that is an undergraduate course. I didn’t know that at the beginning and so I had to change a few courses, which wasn’t a problem. The staff are very helpful, but you have to solve your organizational problems yourself by informing the staff about them.
There is an introductory week (Week 1) but hardly any organizational matters are clarified there, rather it is a pure welcome week mainly with activities alongside the university. I also had the impression that the Southend campus and Colchester campus have some communication problems, which actually always lead to practical solutions for the students. For example, the UoE recommends that you complete four courses in one trimester.
In the end, I didn’t complete a course because the UoE’s plan for exchange students from Europe is a bit “over-ambitious”. Compared to a normal UoE student, as an exchange student you have to write the exams towards the end of the trimester, and you have to hand in a number of essays and group work by the beginning of December. The normal UoE students only write the exams in the summer, so effectively have four months more time for the same workload.
Against this background, the lecturers put a lot of effort into helping the exchange students with academic problems. The contact with the lecturers is usually much more personal than I know from Germany.The content is also very practical and not too difficult to understand, both at the undergraduate and postgraduate level.
The Southend campus is very small consisting of two large buildings. One of them is the library, but it is very well equipped and open around the clock. The lecture rooms are fine and modern. The student dormitory is a three-minute walk from the campus. Even if it’s a bit expensive, it’s so central that I would recommend booking a stay there. The rooms are very pleasantly designed and you have your bathroom in the room and a shared kitchen. Supermarkets are a 1-2 minute walk away and so is the high street. I had looked for cheaper alternatives beforehand, but the advantages were mostly in favor of the student dormitory.
According to Educationvv.com, Southend itself is a medium-sized typical small town and unlike London you can get to know the real Great Britain very well here. Located at the Thames estuary, you can reach the coast within seven minutes from the student office, where you can go for a walk. Then you also discover very beautiful “typical” houses and parks. There is also the longest pier in the world in Southend, but it costs a lot to visit. For me as a football fan, there was also the third-class Southend United with a very nice stadium.
Connection to London
Otherwise, Southend is very well connected to London in terms of transport. I never waited longer than 15 minutes and exactly 59 minutes later you are at Fenchurch Street Station, which is right on Tower Hill. The train is much more reliable than in Germany and over the months I was maybe 3 minutes late. So you can start from Southend to explore the UK further. During that time I was in Cardiff, Bristol and Bath, among others. In addition, London is simply an incredibly interesting city with many possibilities. I was there 5-6 times in just under three months.
Overall, the trimester at UoE was great fun and I would recommend it to others. You have to think carefully about whether you are also the type for a small English town.