Before my semester abroad at the University of Essex, I was very nervous. I have never been abroad for a long time. But looking back, I can say that the semester abroad was one of the best times of my life.
To the application process
This went without any problems. MicroEDU was a great help to me and the staff were always very helpful and friendly. After a short time I received the acceptance from the University of Essex. About two weeks before the start, I received the “Welcome Pack” from the university. All the important information and an overview of the program for “Freshers’ Week”, the introductory week, were located there.
The assignment to a student residence also went well. Initially, I was assigned to a very expensive dormitory, which I actually gave as the lowest priority. After a call to the University’s Accommodation Office, a few days later I received a new offer for the dormitory of my first priority. I know that all international students are entitled to dormitory accommodation on campus. I also met two female students who were housed in a student flat 15 minutes from the campus. But that was also organized by the university so that you don’t have to worry about it yourself.
Then on October 2nd I started. This day was the arrival day for all new students. From London Stansted there is a 1h45 bus ride to the campus. Once there, students await you on every corner to help you with questions. In addition, many information stands were set up. First I went to the Accommodation Office and picked up my key and then went to my new flat share.
I lived in one of the North Towers. That means in a flat share with 14 people! At first I was a little shocked. There were only two showers and three toilets. But a huge kitchen with 4 fridges and two large tables. My room was quite large, so I was surprised. The room had a three-foot-wide bed, a wardrobe, a desk with a chair, a bedside table and a second chair. If you choose the towers as your accommodation, you have to be aware that everything is very simply furnished and unfortunately not always clean. The cleaning ladies clean the bathroom twice a week and the kitchen once a week, but with 14 people new dirt accumulates very quickly. The few showers were not a problem at all. I only had to wait once for a shower, otherwise there was always a free shower. So if you don’t have too high demands and don’t mind if it is a bit louder in the evening, you should definitely opt for the Towers. I haven’t regretted the decision. But on the contrary. I had such nice roommates with whom I went out a lot and it’s just nice never to be alone. There is always someone to talk to. Otherwise there are also accommodations where you have your own bathroom. But there are fewer people living in a flat share, so it’s not so social.
Again about Freshers’ Week: there are some informative events, but basically I can say that Freshers’s Week was actually just a party for me. There are three discos on campus and there is a party to go to every night. Incidentally, that doesn’t change when the lectures start:-). I got to know a lot of nice people very quickly during Freshers’ Week, with whom I spent the whole semester.
To the courses
As a study abroad student, I was able to do anything I wanted in principle. Also from very different fields. You always take 4 courses. I have taken two courses in English Linguistics (“Methodology of Teaching English as a Second Language” and “Second Language Learning”), a course in literary studies (“Narrative and Film”) and a course in psychology (“Social Psychology”). I’m not studying psychology in Germany, I only chose it out of interest, but it was really worth it. The course was really interesting. During the Freshers’ Week, you had the opportunity to change the course selection again and a meeting was organized with all representatives of the various departments. It was a great way to ask questions and reconsider your course choices. I must say, the demands in the courses are comparable to those in Germany. However, I had to write an 8-page essay in each course and an exam at the end. That was a lot of work, but you only need 40% to pass. So this is easy to do.
To the campus
According to Ehuacom.com, the campus is really great. You have everything on site. As already said, there are three discos, but also a sports bar, a fitness studio with a huge range of sports, many cafes and small restaurants (unfortunately relatively expensive), a small supermarket, a post office, a bookstore, etc. The library is also there and has a wide range. The nearest large supermarket is around a 15-minute walk away. Basically I have to say that there is not so much around the campus and you always have to take the bus to get to the nearest cities. But since half of life actually takes place on campus, that’s not a problem.
Colchester is the city nearby. It takes about 20 minutes by bus. A small town with lots of shops, cafes and a very nice castle. It takes about 1 hour to get to London by train from Colchester. What I can only recommend is to go to Clacton-on-Sea. It’s a cute little place by the sea and you can take the bus there directly from the university. The study abroad office also offered two free trips to Cambridge and Canterbury. That was super nice and I would definitely take advantage of the offer, especially because it was free. But the university also offers different trips every weekend. For example, I was in Oxford. Of course, these then cost.
My tips for your semester abroad
- Don’t just stay on campus, but also explore the surrounding area and other cities in England.
- If you are open and uncomplicated people: choose the towers for living. With 14 people, the chances are that you will meet at least a few very nice people.
- Cooks yourself. This is the healthiest and most of all the cheapest. There is no real cafeteria on campus. Only restaurants (expensive) or takeaways.
- Use the great sports program! There really is something for everyone. I did boxing and dancing and signed up for the gym. You also get to know a lot of new people there.
- Start the essays early enough. There is really a lot to do and if the exams come at the end, you should have the essays ready by then, if possible.
- But the most important thing: Enjoy the time! For me it was one of the best times in my life and it can be with you too!