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! 😀

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! 🙂