Expectations vs. Reality III

This is the final post from me. I hope these few posts have been/will be helpful to anyone going to or consider going to Coventry University 🙂

Coventry is, as my British girlfriend very poetically put it, is ‘the armpit of England’. Nothing happens in Coventry. Besides, the entire town is just dirty, everything looks dirty and run down so there’s not really much to look at. The town closes down completely between 4 and 5 on weekends and then there’s Sainbury’s left that’s open, which is one of the more expensive places to go grocery shopping.

There’s nowhere really you can go for walks other than the center of the town which is all seen in less than two hours, not really any green areas and the closest cheap supermarket is 20-30 minutes away from the town center. All in all its not the most amazing town in England. Birmingham is only 20 minutes away on the train which of course is a big plus!

Coventry University hasn’t done a lot to welcome us exchange students. The induction days here was filled with short presentations about a lot of different things that weren’t relevant for Erasmus students at all (some of the people from Coventry even pointed it out themselves at the start of their presentations). A lot of the presentations were even aimed at Master students; however, most of the people that were at the presentation were Bachelor students.

There was no ‘get to know each other’ things at all during the three induction days, there wasn’t even anything like it after the induction days. All together I didn’t feel anything was done from Coventry University’s side to welcome the exchange students properly or to make the move to a different country easier.

All in all, the entire stay in Coventry has been a big let-down. Academically I haven’t gotten anything out of this term, and had I known it would be like this I wouldn’t even have applied to Coventry. I feel like I’ve wasted a term on this, instead of doing some better, more academically challenging courses back home at Malmö University. And I know I’m not alone with this feeling.

If you want some easy credits and to stay in a pretty regular and boring English town for a few months, Coventry might be something for you. But if you want to learn something useful for your further education, then Coventry isn’t the right place. Sadly.

Expectations vs. Reality II

Continued from my last post 🙂

I have six exams all together in my three courses and the longest of them is 2500 words. I spoke to some of the British students and they told me that this is the longest paper they have ever had to write – I’m doing all second year courses.

Some girls from my child language class even tried to have the deadline moved, because “three weeks aren’t enough to write 2500 words” … I was shocked when they first started pushing the teacher to move the deadline. However, they tried at three different occasions to get him to move the deadline. I’ve never experienced a bigger lack of respect for a teacher than this!

My exam in Short Story Workshop is also very different from anything I’ve ever experienced. We have to write a short story about anything we want. There’s no instructions at all, just that we have to write 2000 words, any genre and any theme we want.

Furthermore, the teachers give us feedback through the entire process. One of my teachers sits down with us, reads our entire story and gives us feedback on it. This is BEFORE we hand it in as out final exam in this class. It seems very strange to me that they are allowed to read our exam paper and correct it before the deadline.

I have spoken to people and heard from my friends about other people’s experience of Coventry University. People from other universities in Sweden, from Korea, France, The Netherlands, Germany and Spain, and everybody has the same experience as me. My Korean flat mate said “I haven’t learned anything” about my Shakespeare class. My flatmate from the Netherlands has started to view the entire stay in Coventry as “a long vacation” and spends a lot of time going on trips.

Other people are, like me, just waiting to go home, simply because there’s nothing to do here. There’s not a lot of school work, the town in pretty boring, and there’s not endless money to spend on traveling.

When I first got accepted into Coventry the choices I had when it came to accommodation was VERY limited, I could only choose between two places – Singer Hall and Priory Hall. One catered and one self-catered, however, both without en suite.

I chose Singer Hall, because it wasn’t catered and I wanted to be able to make my own food and not feel bad if I went out for dinner sometimes (on a side note it should be mentioned that catered only includes breakfast and dinner Monday-Friday).

Singer Hall is placed just outside the city center, but everything is still only 10-15 minutes away. I’ve really enjoyed living at Singer Hall up until a few weeks ago. Most of all it just looks like a residential area on the outside, it doesn’t scream student accommodation which is really nice! We have a cleaning lady coming 2-3 times a week sorting out the shared areas and most of the time it has been pretty quiet.

However, a few weeks ago the people living above me started making crazy amounts of noise from around ten at night until somewhere between one and three in the morning. I have several times called security, as it ONLY happens on school nights never in the weekends and it has resulted in me missing several lessons, simply because I don’t sleep.

Security does absolutely nothing. If they can’t hear anything when they open the front door to the flat upstairs they just leave again. I’ve spoken to the reception about it, still nothing happens. It has now been going on for basically every night in around a month and no one does anything. It is driving me and the other girls in my flat insane!

Another bad thing about Singer Hall, is the fact that they switch off the heat several hours during the day, it’s starting to get warmer outside so it’s alright now, but back when I first came here I spent the evenings wrapped up in my quilt because it was absolutely freezing. It is printed in our welcome papers that they switch off the heat, so there doesn’t seem to be much that can be done about it. Nevertheless, It gets really, really cold at times, so if you’re coming to Coventry in the Fall term bring some gooood jumpers!

… One more post to come! 😀

busy days, or rather, weeks

I realise it has been ages since I last updated. And a lot have happened since then. I have been busy with not only school, which to be honest isn’t that hard here in Thailand, but also with travelling. This blog post might be quite lengthy in the regards that it has been a while since last update.

Let’s start talking about the school, Rangsit University, here I am reading 5 courses all in the spectrum of communication arts, not really the same line of subject as I study at Malmö, which are linguistics and literature, but rather courses regarding the field of mass communications. If that makes sense. Then I also have a class in Thai language, as I am indeed in Thailand and knowing some local lingo really helps you out. Three of these courses the level is ridiculous low! Like I could compare it as first year in upper secondary school, if even that. The “lectures” last for about an hour out of the scheduled three hour block. The teacher read from a printed out power point and give tiny extra explanation to those. And that’s it. For the midterm in one of these courses, Introduction to Mass Communication, contained 4 basic questions that took me 10 minutes to answer and for the other course we were to have a presentation about the elements of journalism. So I had prepared a power point, being ready to present in front of the class, something I am always dreading. Came to class and turned out I just had to sit in front the teacher and read straight from my notes. Although I like this professor, he is this old Thai man, who used to be a journalist, whom have terrible English, but always wants to talk to me about Sweden. Last week he asked me where I was from, and I said “Oh you probably don’t know, but a small town called Timrå, just north of Sundsvall” whereas he replied with his broken English, “I’ve been there, when I was young and handsome! Haha, and ice hockey!” He is so nice and fun. But now I’m getting side tracked.

Then there is a photography class, which I enjoy, and where we every week get a homework to take some specific photos. It’s an easy going and fun course. Then the last course is Principles of Public Relations, a course I didn’t think I would find that interesting, but my course coordinator here, Dr Ten, really recommended it since they have invited a guest professor for this term, so I choose that one as well. And I must say, I do not regret it at all. It is by far the best and most interesting course! The guest professor is an Australian woman (oh how I have missed that accent) whom been teaching all over the world, as well as working in PR for years. She’s so engaging, passionate and so present. Probably one of the best teachers I’ve had. Finally a course that hold the standard of higher education. After have gone half of this course, it has gotten me really interested in working within PR, something I’ve never thought of before.

Now let’s move on to travelling and what I have been up to when I’ve had time off.

Firstly I went on a trip with the Rangsit international collage department, called the local wisdom trip. Basically most of the exchanges students this term along with some Thai students that’s part of the buddy program came along. We took the university bus early in the morning for about 3 hours out to nowhere, thanking back now, I sadly can’t remember the name of the place. Here we started by getting in small boats along the river, where we were to plant some mango tree in the mud. And not mud like on the ground on a rainy day, but like mud so deep it reached my upper thigh, almost my hips at some places. That was fun and terrifying. Me with my bad balance I almost fell down so many times, but was able to stay up with the help of branches and other steady people’s hands. One guy in our boat filmed this experience, so will try to insert his video if you’d like to have a look. Then we got in to the boats again and drove from the river out to the open but calm sea. We stopped by an open house out in the middle of the sea for lunch. After lunch it was time for some water sports, such as kayaking, swimming or doughnut after a jetski. I did the two latter combined with some tanning on the deck. The doughnut though, so much fun! My partner even fell in the water and had to climb up again which isn’t the easiest thing to do when wet. After a few hours we went back to the mainland, for some more water games, this time in a small water adventure park. Totally spent we went back around dinnertime, but due to the heavy traffic that Bangkok is mournfully blessed with it took longer than it should.

Next trip was to an Island owned by the Thai Navy called Samea San Island, and where you can’t get to unless you have a Thai person driving you. I went with Theresa and her Thai buddy Mellie and her friends. We drove there early in the morning and when arriving, it was like paradise! White fine sand beaches with crystal clear water. And barely any tourists, like seriously Theresa and I were the only non-Thai people there, ha-ha! In the evening and back on mainland we went to a night market and had a few beers at a traditional Thai bar. The next day we went to another navy owned beach, but this one much more popular with the tourists. As usual I got burned, even though my devoted use of SPF 50+. There is no escaping it for me, those damn red pigments I was blessed with.

The weekend after that Pattaya was on the schedual, and for the sole purpose of the Maya Music Festival. Pattaya being famous as Thailand’s sex trade city, isn’t really something for us, and us being me and four Finnish girls, but who can resist a good house music festival, with a sick line-up only 3 hours away eh? So we had rented this apartment away from downtown Pattaya in the more calm and family friendly Jomten beach (I think it was called). The festival was amazing! Can’t wait for Summerburst this summer in Stockholm to experience the feeling again. Next two days was just spent relaxing by the pool and a brief outing to Pattaya centre for a quick look and a well needed greasy pizza.

Next stop, Ayutthaya, the previous capital of Thailand. A city filled with old and broken, but amazing and majestic architecture. Me, two Finnish girls, Riina and Laura, along with Riinas brother that was here for a visit, rented a tuk tuk with the driver to drive us around to all the old temples and sites that needed to be seen. It all took 4 hours and was amazing, so much history in this place. If ever in Bangkok, I truly recommend going there as it’s only about an hour away.

The day after that I went to Hua Hin by myself to get some relaxing by the sea. Here I didn’t do much then enjoying the sun and sea. One evening I went to a night market and bough some bargains and had a glass of wine at a Swedish bar. My first time speaking Swedish face to face to someone since arriving to Thailand.
Went back to Bangkok and spend most of the weekend in downtown Bangkok along with Riina, her brother, Laura and her friend who was here for a visit too. We among some things went to the JJ market, the biggest one in Thailand, picked up some clothes and a small handbag. We also visited Khaosan Road, a must for tourists for a massive dinner along with some cooling cocktails. We also visited the famous rooftop bar located on the 64th floor in the Leuba hotel. This rooftop being famous from Hangover part 2. The view was nice and all, but the drinks were ridiculous overpriced. A simple Whiskey Sour costed almost 200 Swedish kronor! Which everywhere else in Thailand would be like not even 50 kronor. And there were nowhere to sit, no chairs nor any tables. So we took some photos, drank our cocktail and left.

Next trip was the one I’ve been looking forward to ever since I found out I could actually re-enter Thailand on my single entry visa, by simply applying for a re-entry stamp. Hong Kong! With my love for big cities, this was so exciting. And I can safely say I love this city and will try to return sometime in the future to explore more of the city. We had a bit of unlucky with the weather, it was foggy (which to be fair HK is famous for) a bit rainy and for us cold with mare 15 to 19 degrees, and coming from 36 degrees, brrr cold! Every day we were out walking and exploring for 12-14 hours. Since it was so foggy, we couldn’t go up to Victoria Peak, which is a park up in the mountain that is supposed to offer an amazing view of the city. We went to a museum, ate Chinese food, did some shopping (hello new converse shoes for more than half the price in Sweden!), went to an Irish pub and was caught in a swarm of drunk British guys when they found out we were Nordic. Stumbled on a show of traditional Chinese dance. Not to forget to mention, everyone spoke English, and good English, which was nice for a change! But yeah, 3 days was not enough for exploring Hong Kong.

Moving on to less interesting subject of weather. It is starting to get hotter and hotter now. And I am not liking it. Today we had 38 degrees in the SHADOW, which in the sun feels like 45, with a humidity of 60%. Five minutes out and I am sweating. Gross. And hotter it’s going to get next month. Would it have been the dry heat that I had in Australia it would have been fine. It is the humid and sticky air that’s killing me. I was sitting outside of the international service centre today, and on one of the tv’s on the wall a video from a Thai girl’s exchange in Sweden started showing (they show videos of places to get more people to go on an exchange) and there were a bunch of photos of snow and autumn, it made me really miss Sweden and to be able to dress in layers, cosy jumpers, coats and big scarfs. I am having a great time here, but yeah wouldn’t mind going back just for the cold!

That’s all for me this time. Have a good day wherever you are,
Sara

Expectations vs. Reality

Hi!

This is my first post on this blog and also the only one I’m going to write. However, it’s going be a three part one!

I haven’t written any other posts on this blog, simply because the entire stay here in Coventry has been a bit of a let-down to me, and I haven’t felt that anything was worth sharing.

However, I do feel an obligation to tell other people that dream of going to Coventry how it is really like over here.

When I first chose England it was with universities like Oxford and Cambridge in mind, great universities with a history of amazing teachers and with teaching of a really high and advanced level. (I got nervous about how much I would have to work I would have when I was told to choose three courses!) It was the only picture I has in my mind when thinking of universities in England. However, that is not the case when it comes to Coventry.

I’ve currently been here just over two months, and I miss Malmö! I miss having actual teaching where talking notes will be helpful – where it’s possible to take notes! I miss doing proper work, having real academic texts to read!
The level at Coventry is very, very low compared to Malmö. It most of all feels like high school most of the time. A lot of the people I have classes with don’t really seem have any respect for the teacher or the other students. In one of my classes up to 10 people talk during EVERY single class, not even whispering, they actually talk out loud and the teacher does not say anything, he just continues mumbling his lecture.

He doesn’t seem to care about teaching either. He never starts on time and always ends class before time. The classes are already only one hour long, so we only have between 35 and 45 minutes of actual teaching every time, which is just not good enough!

The class is on child language and after having mumbled his way through five different examples of children’s writing, he showed us a picture and asked how old we thought the child who had written it was. After people had tried to guess he said “well I don’t know myself, so your guess is as good as mine” … This is the level of the teaching in this class.

In my other class about Shakespeare, we also only have lectures that are an hour. We are sometimes very shortly introduced to theory about Shakespeare and his plays, but we haven’t gotten any readings apart from the actual plays. So no theory whatsoever to build any arguments on, just his plays.

In my last class, Short Story Workshop, we haven’t had to turn any writing in so far. Two months in to a writing course and not a single deadline! We have been put in ‘writers groups’ that should give each other feedback etc., but we haven’t been told how to feedback or what to look for so no one is giving feedback to anyone.

I have online lectures in this course and online tests to check that we’ve watched the lecture. However, the tests are basically just ‘how much have you memorized’ test. I haven’t learned anything from these lectures. The seminars are a bit better, they are three hour long and start out with a mini lecture, which is often really helpful.

… To be continued! 🙂