I spent the autumn semester of 2016 at the University of Essex in Colchester, relocating the third semester of my master’s degree in computer science to England. The organization through MicroEDU was very easy for me and Ms. Bastian was always able to help me with questions. The International Office in Essex is also very committed. Through webinars, for example, questions can be clarified in advance and someone is always available in their office or by e-mail during their stay.
In principle, when enrolling at the university, you already choose so many courses that they add up to 60 credits (corresponds to 30 ECTS points). First of all, you have a free choice from all specialist areas, provided that this choice makes sense for you. At a meeting in the introductory week, you also have the opportunity to discuss your choice with the coordinators from all departments and change them if necessary. In the end I chose three courses from the Master’s Computer Science area and, as a fourth module, British Society and Culture. The latter is specially designed for international students and covers the history and culture of the United Kingdom in a laid-back, fun way. From the computer science subjects I can particularly recommend CE816 – High Performance Computing.In none of my master’s courses were more than ten students in a course, so the lecturers had a lot of time to help you with questions, especially during the internships.
Most courses are graded through an exam and / or homework. High Performance Computing, for example, is assessed 50% through the written exam and another 50% through two protocols of the “lab sessions”. In terms of teaching methods and in-depth knowledge of the material, the university can best be compared with a technical college – a lot is taught / tried out in practice and algorithms or evidence are not deepened down to the smallest detail.
The university itself is not particularly big, but the numbering of the rooms is definitely expandable and the university’s “Find Your Way” app helps enormously to find the right room for the lectures at first. The library was well equipped (at least for my needs) and, above all, offers the option of downloading e-books to your private devices, so that you can continue working with the books at home without the pressure of having to return them as quickly as possible. In addition, software such as Microsoft Office or MATLAB is made available to students free of charge.
I was very lucky with my apartment because I got one of the coveted places in the “on campus accommodations”, more precisely in the South Courts. The flat share consisted of 12 residents, divided into two kitchens, each with its own bathroom with shower in the room. In principle, the other dormitories are not bad either, the university website offers a good overview. What is neither particularly clean nor very well located is the Forest Road House, a student accommodation that is not managed by the university.
Tesco or Aldi are ideal for shopping, although the trip to Wilko (household goods) or Poundland (£ 1 shop) in town can be worthwhile for the first set-up (bedding, plates, etc.).
According to TOPPHARMACYSCHOOLS, the nightlife at the university, especially during the first two weeks of the semester, is definitely worth seeing. But the Essex Students’ Union also has something to offer for those who are not necessarily the disc type: There are various sports offers that are free for students and that can also be tried out without obligation during Just Play sessions. There are societies for other leisure activities. For example, I joined the “Real ale, beer, cider & pie” society. This meets once a week for a pub crawl, where pubs in the area are visited and mostly alcoholic beverages offered there are tasted. You definitely get to know new people quickly!
Due to its location, the University of Essex is a great starting point for travel and sightseeing. London is about an hour away by train and is a must-see on the list of places to visit. There are also Clacton-on-Sea and Mersea Island in the vicinity. With a little luck, you can also find a cheap flight with Ryanair to Edinburgh or Ireland from Stansted Airport. A tour to Oxford or Cambridge is also interesting. If you know in advance that you travel a lot by train, you should consider buying a Railcard, which gives you a 33% discount on all tickets, as train travel can sometimes quickly become expensive.