Application process and preparation
I spent the Autumn Term 2016 at the University of Essex as a free mover because I wanted to spend my semester abroad in my dream country at a great university. MicroEDU was very helpful to me with this. Without the intermediary of MicroEDU, the organization would have been many times more complex and cumbersome. The communication was very personal and the international coordinator for Great Britain was available as a contact person for questions throughout the planning process until the end of the stay. Thanks a lot for this! Since the application Via MicroEDU, I was relieved of the uncertainty surrounding incorrect and incomplete application documents and so an acceptance from a university abroad was only a matter of time.
It should also be emphasized that the Study Abroad Office of the University of Essex regularly communicated all important information about registration, module selection and travel by e-mail prior to arrival. This enabled me to prepare well for the upcoming stay.
According to JIBIN123, it was possible to book an airport transfer from Heathrow and Gatwick airports to the campus in advance, which was organized by the university. In this case, students and employees from the Students Union were already waiting at the airport with a welcome bag and accompanied us to the bus, which took us to the campus in two hours. We were also warmly welcomed on campus and taken to the respective apartments.
With the acceptance, the university guaranteed a room on campus. As I found out later, however, this was not a matter of course and some exchange students had to look for a place to stay in the surrounding areas in advance. However, all of the MicroEDU students I met were on campus.
I lived in the North Towers very centrally on campus. 12 other students from all over the world lived in my apartment, with whom I shared a large kitchen and 4 bathrooms. Since everyone had a different daily rhythm, this was not a problem. The hygienic condition of the bathrooms and the kitchen was also okay, especially since there was a cleaner who cleaned both at least twice a week. I quickly made friends with my roommates and in the kitchen you always met someone for an interesting conversation. One problem, however, was that the apartments were built very thin, so that the parties that took place almost every day could sometimes be very annoying. With a little luck with the allocation of rooms within the apartment and with earplugs, the advantages outweigh the advantages, as it is also cheaper accommodation. Living on campus is definitely a nice experience.
The Autumn Term consists of 10 weeks of lectures and the 11th week (for me it was the last week before Christmas) the exams take place. For all new and international students, there is an introductory week with information and social events in advance, so that you can get to know a lot of nice people and settle in on campus. The module enrollment meeting, in which you can change your choice of course, is important. You may not take significantly more or less than 60 Essex Credit Points, as this number is covered by the tuition fee paid.
I have taken three master’s courses at the Business School, each with 20 Essex Points (equivalent to 10 ECTS). My courses were portfolio management, modern banking and audit theory. The course selection was not very extensive for master’s students who had already chosen a specialization in Germany, as not all courses are open to exchange students, but the courses I chose were very interesting and have significantly expanded my knowledge in these areas. Compared to Germany, the courses have far fewer hours of attendance, but are more theory and research-oriented. You tend to deal more with a specific topic in order to write an essay. However, an examination of the lecture material may be required in addition or as an alternative. You should therefore not underestimate the time required.
The supervisory relationship in the master’s courses is very good and the lecturers were always committed to providing assistance for the examinations and explaining the content in an understandable manner, both within and outside of the lecture. The employees in administration and in the Study Abroad Office were also very warm and helpful, but the organization was not always coordinated.
The university is very well equipped in terms of the library, online journals and the technical equipment of the rooms and workplaces. The Pocket Essex app was particularly helpful, as it provides a personal timetable and links to all important online resources. The loan period for books is generally one week, but a book can be renewed up to ten times as long as it is not reserved by a third party. This is a good way to avoid buying expensive main literature.
Campus and Colchester
The campus can be seen as a small town in its own right, where you can get everything you need for daily life. There are, among other things, two small grocery stores, cafes, bars, restaurants, a small cinema, a theater, a stationery shop with a post office and laundromats. The area is very interesting, as some of the buildings from the 1960s are almost on stilts. The new buildings also have an interesting modern architecture. The Business School deserves special mention, which impresses with its wooden construction and variety of plants inside. It is also impressive that there is a contact point for every issue, from language support for the essays to campus security.A highlight on Thursdays was always a campus market, where fresh baked goods, fish, vegetables and small lunch dishes could be bought. The only point of criticism is that the campus is outside of Colchester and you have to rely on buses and taxis to get to the center or the train station. The next supermarket is also a 20-minute walk away.
Colchester is less beautiful at first glance, but there are also beautiful corners such as the historic castle, small cafés in the side streets or the art museum. On the other hand, the closer, typically English village of Wivenhoe with its sailing harbor and cozy cafés and restaurants is very beautiful.
As in many English universities, there are countless sports clubs and societies, be it hockey, yoga, photography, trading and investment or Harry Potter. At the beginning of the term there is a campus fair where all societies introduce themselves and where you can get an impression of the contents of the weekly meetings. The societies are a good opportunity to live the English campus life actively and to get to know people with the same interests.
Otherwise, day trips to London are very possible, as London can be reached by train from Colchester in under an hour. However, you should plan another 45 minutes from the campus to the main train station if you want to take the bus. But a taxi is also worthwhile if there are three or four people traveling. Colchester is also a good base for trips to Cambridge, Oxford or coastal towns throughout the south of England. Stansted Airport is also easily accessible for other trips.
Overall, my semester abroad at the University of Essex more than met my expectations. I have broadened my professional horizons and now see research in my field in a completely different light. It was also very important to me to be able to improve my English skills clearly. The active campus life, a different way of studying and international friendships and contacts make your stay a very positive one with many unforgettable experiences. I can only advise everyone to spend a semester abroad in England.