I spent the winter semester 15/16 at the ‘ University of Essex ‘ as part of my semester abroad. First of all, I wanted to go to England or the USA to improve my English. MicroEDU was chosen on the one hand because of recommendations from older fellow students and the convincing information booth at my home university.
The application process at the University of Essex and the placement through MicroEDU were very smooth and professional. The international office in Essex gave me excellent information about everything in advance.
Now we come to campus life and the semester abroad there. The university is just under an hour (by train) from London, which means you can go there regularly. The prices for the train can get expensive in the long run, as you have to plan at least 25 pounds for a return trip. Regarding the journey, it is recommended not to choose London Heathrow, but rather the nearby Stansted Airport. It takes just under an hour and a half to get to the university by bus. The largest nearer place is Colchester with approx. 100,000 inhabitants. There you can go to a pub in the evening, do some shopping or have something to eat. This is also recommended so that you don’t get a “campus fever” over time.
The university is less than 10 minutes away by public bus, which has several stops at the individual accommodations. The campus offers a coexistence that most students in Germany are probably not familiar with, and is typically English or American. You live in different accommodations that differ in terms of requirements, but also in terms of price. I lived with five other ‘International Students’ in a ‘Flat’ in the ‘South Courts’. I liked the accommodation very much. It was clean, quite spacious and not too loud. Overall, the best mix of social life and time for yourself. I can also recommend ‘The Houses’, which offer something similar. Personally, I would tend to advise against ‘The Towers’, which offer little privacy and can be very loud.
Living with my roommates and the fact that most of everyday life happens on campus makes it very easy to get to know people. The specialty of the university is the international focus. I hadn’t imagined the large number of ‘international students’ who go to university for longer periods of time. This makes campus life extremely interesting and you can learn a lot about different cultures, for example over dinner. The campus offers a few restaurants (Fusion is recommended), bars and even a club where you can meet up with fellow students in the evening, watch football or play billiards, which is part of a semester abroad and is not neglected, especially in Essex.
It was important to me personally to do a lot of sport. The university offers a large sports area with many grass pitches and running tracks. The ‘Societies’ are an important part of university coexistence and offer countless opportunities to try something without obligation. There is also a well-equipped fitness studio on campus. There are ‘Societies’ in all directions, e.g. many in the field of art and music or politics.
According to liuxers.com, there are many small places to explore around the campus. In addition, when the weather is good and by English standards, it is worth taking a “smaller breeze” to the sea. Canterbury, Oxford, Cambridge and Bath are available for further tours. There is even a ‘Travelsociety’ that offers weekly tours with a program there.
With regard to the study conditions, I can only speak in favor of my business administration degree: there has been a state-of-the-art facility for business administration there since 2014, which is really impressive. The course content is comparable to that at German universities, but I have to say personally that it is a little easier there. Writing many essays may take some getting used to. The lecturers were generally well prepared, took a lot of time and the small ‘classes’ made it pleasant to listen to. In essays, they helped the students extensively with explicit academic questions. You could also take some things with you for your home university. In fact, it was not uncommon for lecturers to meet students for soccer on the grounds. In summary, I was positively surprised by the teaching content and the helpfulness of the lecturers. The facilities at the university are apparently gradually being renovated and the opportunities to learn, for example in the newer part of the library, or the ‘learning center’ are very good.
Regarding the cost of studying: The ‘ student fees’ for exchange students are average compared to other English universities. In addition, however, there are the costs for the accommodation, so that it can be a bit more expensive. MicroEDU offered me good alternative payment options in this case. The general price level in England is higher than in Germany. You should therefore be prepared for higher monthly expenses.
Conclusion: I felt that my time in Essex passed quickly. Many impressions and experiences from great excursions and from the many international friends that I was able to make remained stuck.