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! 🙂

Bye Coventry, England

My Erasmus exchange semester in England has already come to an end. Actually, I am writing this from home. A couple of days ago I took my last exam at Coventry University and flew to visit my family in Russia before going back to Sweden to continue my studies there in a few days. Now, as I have a very short break before immersing in a new semester, I decided that I should summarise my exchange studying experience shortly.

It is quite strange to realise that my exchange semester is over. Four months flew so fast. Without a doubt, I enjoyed living and studying in the UK a lot.  It surely was an unforgettable experience. I travelled a lot, learnt many new things, met a few nice people and, hopefully, grew personally. I will cherish memories of my adventures for the rest of my life.

In my previous posts I managed to cover highlights of my semester. In my last post, which was a month ago, I wrote about my plans for the winter break holidays. During that period, I travelled a bit more. I flew to Ireland for a few days. There, I stayed in Dublin and made 2 day-trips to the Cliffs of Moher and Belfast, Northern Ireland. Then I went to Scotland again for Christmas. I stayed in Edinburgh and also went on a trip to enjoy breathtaking views in the Highlands. I was back in Coventry for the New Year’s Eve. After that, the exam period began. The exams were alright. Of course, preparation time was quite stressful and not fun at all. But in the end, I believe that I passed everything. So I left with a clear conscience.

I am very grateful to Malmö Högskola for giving me this great opportunity to do exchange studies and share my experience on this blog.

Thank you for reading! Take care!

Hello Winter Break

Hi, are you alright?

The time flies so fast. Yesterday I had my last lecture at Coventry University. Unbelievable! So probably it is time to write some sort of summary of my semester here. Although, it is not over yet, I am not leaving. I still have to take 3 exams in January. But before that I have 3 weeks of holidays that I am going to spend travelling, celebrating, and (hopefully) revising for my exams.

I have already written a few posts about travelling around the UK. It probably made some of you think that I did not really study here. 😀 Well, I did. In fact, I had 4 assignments to submit, among them were two typical essays, one book review, and one group wiki.

There was nothing special about the essays and the book review. I would say, they have pretty much the same requirements here as at MAH. But group wiki was something unusual, something that I had never done before. It also was a group assignment. We had to create a wiki page (something very similar to a real Wikipedia page) about a specific topic. It was not hard to do the assignment from a technical point of view. Everyone in the group had access to the wiki from their own computers. The platform used for it was not tricky to understand either. The only difficulty concerning this assignment was connected with agreeing on how to do it. Because all people in my group were from different universities (all exchange students) with different ideas how to write and present information, we had some disagreements. But I guess, it is a normal part of group work anyway. However, this definitely was not my favourite assignment. Anyway, we managed to make a more or less decent wiki in time. 😀

Apart from submitting those assignment, I also had to attend all my lectures and seminars, which I did. As I already told in one of my previous blogposts, they track attendance here. So it is very important to go to all your classes.

As for the exams… As I have already mentioned, I have to take three. One for each of my modules. I will have to write two essays in two hours for each exam. Two of the exams are going to be unseen. So now I just have a list of 10 topics for each one of them that we studied during this semester, and have to revise everything. The third one is going to be a seen exam. I already have a list of questions, so can start writing my answers.

To sum up shortly, I cannot say that I liked all the modules that I was taking here, but in general it was okay. Not always the classes were interesting and well-organised. But nothing is perfect. I still feel like I have learnt a lot here. And that is what matters, right?

Alright, let’s leave aside the studying part. Yesterday we also had the last party of the semester. It was a Christmas party. But it was also the last day in England for my best friend here. So we went out together, had fun and said bye to each other. It was sad. Farewells always are… It is just an integral part of exchange studies, though. Making friends and then saying goodbye. But isn’t it amazing how people can become good friends in a very short period of time. Of course, not everyone will stay in your life after it. But nowadays technology is everywhere. So it is very easy to keep in touch with your exchange friends even after you go home. People just need a desire to do that!  Those who want, will always find a moment to call or text their friends. Distance is never an obstacle for true friendship, right? And how wonderful will it be to reunite one day. Well, what I am trying to say here is that you should go on exchange. It will be hard and sad sometimes, but most of the time it will be a fantastic experience.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading!

Trip to Stonehenge and a Weekend in Scotland

Hello!

Last time I posted here, I mentioned that I was going to visit Stonehenge and Bath. So that trip happened a couple of weeks ago. Also, a week after that trip, I made another one. As it is obvious from the title of this post, the trip was to Scotland, where I spent 3 days.

Stonehenge

IIMG_5819 believe that there is no need to explain what Stonehenge is. Most people must have heard or seen pictures of it. At least it is considered as one of the most famous sites in the world. 😉

This trip was organised for students by the same company that I went on a few trips with before. It took us around 2,5 hours to get to Stonehenge by coach. We had pre-booked tickets, so as soon as we arrived there, we went to explore the site. The ticket to Stonehenge includes an audio-guide and a bus ride from the visitor centre to the stones. Unfortunately, visitors are not allowed to come close to the stones. So we had to enjoy the view from about 10 metres distance.

IMG_5747Stonehenge is probably not the most exciting place to visit in Britain, but I really enjoyed it. So I would recommend going there just to see it with your own eyes.  However, I must say that it looks bigger in the pictures. 😀

We were given around 1,5 hours to explore Stonehenge, which was enough to walk around, take pictures, and even drink a cup of hot chocolate in a local cafe. After that we headed to Bath, which was only around an hour ride away from there.

 

Bath

IMG_5820This town is named like that because many years ago the Romans found hot springs in that area, so they decided to build a temple and baths there. That is how the settlement appeared in that place. Nowadays, the town has a few wonderful sights. Among them are the Roman Baths, the Pump Room, Bath Abbey, Pultney Bridge, the Royal Crescent, and the Circus. My friend and I did not go inside the baths because the tickets were quite expensive, but instead we took a stroll by the river, visited other sights, and had lunch in a local restaurant. After a long and exciting day, we headed back to Coventry.

Weekend in Scotland

IMG_6696Accommodation and transportation for this trip were arranged through the same company as my previous trips. So the only thing I had to do was to find interesting places to visit and create my own itinerary. Also, I should mention that all together, we were around 270-300 students from Coventry, Birmingham and Warwick universities going on that trip on 6 coaches.

Day 1 (Friday)

IMG_5879We left Coventry very early on Friday morning. The plan was to go to Glasgow for a few hours to do some sightseeing and then head to Edinburgh in the evening. It took us a little bit less than 8 hours to get to Glasgow.  We arrived there around 2pm and were given 3 hours of free time to explore the city. I joined a group of Dutch girls to walk around the city together. We went to the Gallery of Modern Art, checked out George Square, which is the main square of the city, passed by the university, visited Glasgow Cathedral and Necropolis. The last two places impressed me most of all. The cathedral looked amazing and the view from Necropolis was fantastic.  After that we returned to the coach and continued our journey to Edinburgh.

IMG_6698When we arrived in Edinburgh, we found out that the hostel that was booked for us was just horrible. The windows were broken almost in all rooms there and everything was extremely gross. But we could do nothing about it. Good that we had to stay there 2 nights only. After 2 hours of confusion connected with allocation of the students, I finally managed to find a free bed in a room for six. After dropping my stuff in the room, I went to have dinner in Italian restaurant with those Dutch girls. Also, a club night was scheduled for that day. So at night, we all went out to have some fun in a club in the old part of the city.

Day 2 (Saturday)

DSC_1779In the morning we were offered to follow a 1,5-hour guided tour around Edinburgh. I really doubted that walking with 200 more people would be a good idea (as it turned out later, I was right!), so I decided to explore the city independently. First, I had breakfast in a café and, then, my long and exciting day began.  I went to St. John’s Episcopal Church and walked in Princes Gardens, after that I climbed up Castle Rock, where Edinburgh Castle is situated. The view from the Rock was marvellous, and I immediately fell in love with the city. Then, I paid for the ticket and IMG_6652entered the castle. On the territory of the castle, you can find a few museums and follow a guided tour. I visited almost all museums there, took many pictures but did not follow the tour. After 2 hours of exploring the castle, I decided that it was time to get going farther. Following the Royal Mile (the main street in the old town), I walked down to the Scottish Parliament and Palace of Holyroodhouse (the official residence of the Queen in Scotland). I did not pay to get in, just examined the palace from the outside. After that, I decided to go hiking in Holyrood park, which was nearby. The main sight in the IMG_6582park is Arthur’s Seat, which is a peak of an extinct volcano in Edinburgh named like that after numerous legends about King Arthur. The height of the peak is 250m. Getting to the peak of Arthur’s Seat was my goal, so I started my journey up there. I have no idea how much time it took
me to get to the top, maybe 30 minutes, maybe an hour. I really do not know, I was so overwhelmed by the view as I was getting higher and higher, so I was not paying attention to anything. When I got to the peak, I was on my last breath but it was definitely worth it. 😀 The view from up there was breathtaking! I could see the city and its surroundings in full view. I took around 500 pictures there and spent more than an hour on the top. But then, the sun was slowly setting, so it was also time for me to start getting down. When I got back to the DSC_2406old town, I found a restaurant to have dinner and rest a bit. It was still quite early to go back to the hostel then. Therefore, after finishing my meal, I decided to explore the city in the dark. Eventually, I found myself at the Christmas market. It was huge. They had a few attractions and many various stalls with souvenirs, sweets, drinks and street food. I indulged myself in a glass of mulled cider there. The atmosphere at the market was fantastic, it gave me a feel that Christmas was already around the corner.
When I felt that I had seen everything and taken enough photos of the place, I headed
back to the hostel to meet the others because a bar crawl was planned for that night. We went to 3 different places and ended up in a night club. After the whole day of walking I was too tired to party, so I left everyone and went to sleep.

Day 3 (Sunday)

IMG_6686I woke up quite early on Sunday. I did not have too much time for sightseeing that day because we were supposed to meet at 3pm at the hostel to get on our coaches and head back to Coventry. So in the morning I passed by the Christmas market again, bought a cup of hot chocolate for breakfast there, and continued my trip to Calton Hill, where Nelson monument is situated. This hill also provides visitors with a great view. So I let myself walk around and enjoy it. Later, I went down to the National Museum of Scotland, Grassmarket, and St. Giles Cathedral. After visiting those places, not so much time was left until our
departure from Edinburgh, so I decided to eat something. Before I went on that trip, one of my friends had recommended me IMG_6697one nice café in the old town, so I went there. I also bought postcards to send to my friends and family before that. So I signed them as I was enjoying my cup of hot chocolate in the café. After the lunch, I walked through the city once again, dropped my postcards in the mailbox, returned to the hostel and got on a coach.

DSC_2577The ride back was not smooth. Halfway to Coventry, the coach that I was on broke down, so all people from it had to squeeze into other 5 coaches. I was lucky because I had a seat, but a couple of people had to stand in the coach all the way back to Coventry. We came back to our town around midnight. Tired and happy I got to my room already dreaming about my next trip to Scotland.

Thank you for reading!

“Let’s go get lost. Let’s go get lost…”

Hi from Coventry!

I have not been writing here for so long!

Actually, I have been quite busy lately. I had two course papers to submit this week. Also, I somehow managed to catch so-called fresher’s flu twice, and, of course, I was travelling.

This time, I am going to cover the part about travelling around the UK.

I guess when people decide to go on exchange, they do not think about the education in a chosen university or country only. Culture, history, places to visit, various attractions, food, etc. also play a significant role when selecting a destination for your studies.

IMG_3991Well, at least for me it was the case. When I was choosing a place to go for my exchange, I was also considering how interesting it would be to live in that country. As I love travelling and exploring new places a lot, I wanted to go somewhere where I had never been before. That is how I ended up adding the UK universities to my exchange studies application. I thought that it would be amazing to live, study, and travel in this country for a few months. Must say, I was not mistaken!

IMG_3988It has already been almost 2 months since I moved here. And I have already managed to visit quite a few wonderful places in England. Coventry has a very good location. It is right in the middle of England. So it is really easy to travel from here, and it does not take that much time to get to different parts of the country.

Alright….

The first trip (except the one around Coventry) I did in England was to Birmingham. But that one I already covered in my first post, so not going to write about it again :D.

DSC_0156The first weekend after I had arrived in England I went to London! I was absolutely excited about going to the capital. I went there by coach with a company that organises trips around the UK for students. It was a very short trip, though. We left Coventry at 7am and were back at around 7:30pm. The ride took approximately 2,5 hours, which with all the traffic jams in London was not bad at all. As it was my first time there, I wanted to see all major tourist attractions. First, we had a short guided tour around and, then, had a few hours to explore the city on our own. I met 2 girls on the coach, so we decided to explore the city together. (These 2 girls later became my travel buddies and good friends, too.) That day we saw Westminster Palace with its famous Elizabeth Tower that has Big Ben on it, Westminster Abbey, guard change at Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, Somerset House, Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London Tower, Tower Bridge, and the London Eye. We did not use any public transport that day, just went on foot. After walking around so much, we got on our coach and headed back to Coventry. That day was amazing! The weather, my company, everything was perfect. And, of course, I fell in love with this beautiful city of London!

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Only a week later I went to Oxford and Stratford-upon-Avon by coach with the same company. The first stop was in Oxford. We went to Christ Church there. A very lovely place, which could be of a great interest to all Harry Potter fans because some of the movie scenes were filmed inside it. We also saw that famous university of Oxford. Looks nice and very old! However, in order to get in, you have to pay. So we did not go inside. We also walked around and did some shopping for souvenirs.

 

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In the afternoon, we headed to Stratford-upon-Avon. The town is quite small and very cosy! The most famous thing there is a house where William Shakespeare was born. So if you consider yourself an admirer of his work, then it must be an interesting place for you. I personally enjoyed visiting both towns.

 

And the next weekend, we went on a day trip to Cambridge. One more town famous for its prestigious university. We visited Fitzwilliam museum, one of the university buildings, saw a Mathematical Bridge, and went punting. It was a lovely day in a lovely town!
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In the middle of October, I went to London again to do more sightseeing and to celebrate my birthday.  But that time I got to spend 3 days there, so I managed to see and do way more things. I was also well prepared that time. After having had consulted with a couple of my friends on what were the must see and do things in London, I created my own itinerary.
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So very early on Friday morning I took a train to London. The trip took only 1,5 hours. The first day I did not see many new things in London. I went to see Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Tower Bridge and Westminster again but this time in the evening, when the illumination was on. So beautiful! Also, I visited China Town and had some Chinese food that day. It was really good!

 

On Saturday morning, I headed to the National History Museum. It was fascinating! So many wonderful exhibits. And the building is stunning. Later, I passed by Harrods (for those who do not know, it is a very fancy and ridiculously expensive department store). I did not buy anything and felt quite weird there. 😀 Later, I checked out Covent Garden, went to London Film IMG_4986Museum that was holding an exhibition “Bond in Motion”. As you can understand from its name, the exhibition was dedicated to James Bond films. 23 vehicles that were used in the films were exposed there. After the exhibition, I headed to see MI6 building. (You can see a connection between this place and the exhibition I guess. :D) I took a few photos and moved on. By then it was already getting darker, so I decided to go to Westminster to enjoy the sunset and the beautiful view there.

IMG_4973I started Sunday at the Brick Lane market. There I got myself a birthday cupcake and a smoothie :D. Later I checked the surroundings and found lots of amazing graffiti there. The next place on my list was the British Museum. The museum is enormous! There is so much to see. I got tired after 2 hours there so decided to move on. The underground train took me right to Camden Town – a district with a vibrant atmosphere that is full of various markets, interesting stores, music venues and numerous food places. I had sort of dinner at a street food market there, and also bought a small souvenir for myself. In the evening, I planned to go to the London Eye. So after finishing my meal, I headed back to the city centre. I was super lucky because the queue for the tickets was pretty short. The view from the top of the IMG_4987London Eye was fascinating! It definitely was worth the money!

So, that was the last thing I did in London during that trip. So the next morning, I got on a train and headed back to Coventry for my afternoon class.

 

DSC_1271My next trip was to Liverpool – the Beatles city. We saw Museum of Liverpool, Titanic memorial (the ship was assembled there), World Museum, Liverpool Cathedral and went to the Beatles shop. This city was a bit different from all other places that I had visited before. Still it was really nice.

 

DDSC_1278uring the Halloween week (yes, in England they seem to celebrate Halloween the whole week) I went to Warwick Castle with my English friend that I had met in Sweden last year. Warwick is situated only 40 minutes away from Coventry by train. So again, it was really easy to get there.

The castle was built in 1068 but it is still in a very good condition! It was also nicely decorated for Halloween. We went to the Dungeon there to listen to the history of the plague in Britain. It was kind of a scary place, I must say. But we had lots of fun.

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And the last trip I went on so far was to Manchester last weekend. We checked out the Football Museum, Manchester Cathedral, very beautiful John Rylands library, Town Hall, and went shopping. We also wanted to see the stadium but there was a game that day. So we did not dare to go there.

 

That’s it for now. My next trip is going to be to Stonehenge and Bath this weekend. I’ll write about it here later for sure. Guess it’s going to be fun.

Thanks for reading!

Studying at Coventry University

Hello!

After a couple of weeks of classes at Coventry, I can finally tell something about the education here. In general, educational system in Britain seems to be quite similar to the one we have in Sweden but, of course, it has some differences. So in this post I will try to provide an overall overview of what it is like to study @ CovUni.

Same as in Sweden, students don’t have too many classes a week. Students are expected to complete most of their studying in the library or at home using books and online resources. Most students here are supposed to take up 3 modules that make up 30 ECTS in total. Everyone (at least among exchange students) is free to choose modules that they would like to study, and then they have to complete their timetables themselves. However, unlike Sweden, where students have different timetables each week, here it’s fixed and doesn’t change from week to week. Students just need to choose their modules and complete timetables wisely in order to make the most out of their exchange studies here. (For example, I completed my timetable the way that I always have Fridays off, which is wonderful because I have long weekends so I can travel. 😀 )

All modules at my faculty consist of lectures and seminars that take 4 hours of guided studying a week – 3 hours for lectures and 1 hour for a seminar. So students have to spend only around 12 hours a week at the university. During lectures all you have to do is to listen and make some notes (you don’t even have to write a lot because lecturers always have all important information in their presentations that are available online). There’s no discussion or questions from a teacher at the lectures, so students are not expected to say anything. Also, documentaries or other movies might be shown during the lectures. However, they are not followed by any discussion. Seminars are, on the contrary, very interactive, therefore everyone is expected to contribute to a discussion. Also, students usually have to prepare some readings or perhaps even some sort of a presentation for this kind of classes in advance. Some students might also find field trips in their timetables but, unfortunately, they are unavailable for the Erasmus students (apparently you have to pay for those in advance).

Exams… Well, it’s too early to talk about them now, I guess. All I know is that I have to write course papers for my modules. Most of my course papers are due the period of time between the middle of November and the beginning of December. Other than that, I will also have traditional in-class exams in January. But I think I will write about it in more details when I know more about it. 😉

Semesters here are shorter than in Sweden. Studies for autumn semester usually start in the beginning October and finish in the middle of December. Then students have a three-week Christmas holidays, that are followed by a two-week exam period that lasts until mid-January. After that spring semester begins. But already in the beginning of May academic year is over.

It’s worth mentioning that attendance is a very important thing here. Students must attend all lectures and seminars. Teachers literally check if you’re present or not at each and every lecture or seminar. In case a student misses several classes, he will come across some problems with the university staff. (So far I have attended all my lectures and seminars, so I don’t know what exactly they do to those who skip classes. Hopefully, I will never know about that by my own experience :D)  It feels a little bit like being at high school, though. Well, students can do nothing about it, so we just need to make sure to always sign a registry form when we go to a class. In case a student gets sick and unable to attend a class, he or she should notify a teacher about it in advance in order to avoid problems.

Despite all the hassle with attendance tracking, the atmosphere in the classes here is pretty informal. (Just like in Sweden.) Teachers often joke around and may talk about everything with students. Also, the staff here is very international. Coventry teachers are coming from various countries from all over the world.

I guess, that’s it about education here for now. Just one more little thing about my studies here. During the first week of studies, one of my teachers decided to change timetable for his module which led to a clash in my timetable. So I had to withdraw from that module and pick something instead. Unfortunately, I’m not taking Journalism anymore. Instead, I’m following a history module (The Making of Modern America) now. The new course seems to be pretty interesting as well.

So I guess, everyone should be aware of unexpected changes that might occur even after the beginning of a semester and look for some other modules to have a backup plan just in case 😉 .

Thanks for reading! Have a fantastic day and don’t forget to apply for exchange studies!

First Week in Coventry

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Hello! How are you doing?

After half a year of preparation for my Erasmus exchange semester in the UK I finally arrived in Coventry a week ago. The past week was full of different events. I’m going to tell about it here.

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On the way to Birmingham

Arrival

It all started on Friday, September 18th. My trip to Coventry was not a very short one. First, I had a two-hour flight from my hometown of Saint Petersburg to Copenhagen airport where I was supposed to change planes. Then I had to wait 3 hours there until my next flight. (I was so close to Malmö! I really wanted to get on a train and visit the city where I was living for a whole year.) After wondering around the airport and looking for a plug adaptor, which I found almost immediately, it was finally time to board the next plane which took me to Birmingham. The flight was 2 hours long again. After going through border control, which wasn’t that long and scary as I read on the internet, I took a taxi to a hotel where I spent my first night in Coventry because I couldn’t access my dorm that day.

The next morning I took my suitcases, checked out from the hotel, and headed to my dormitory. Luckily I had GPS navigation on my mobile phone so it wasn’t hard to find my way there.

Accommodation

Finding accommodation in Coventry was kind of a problem for me. Even though Coventry University arranges accommodation for exchange students, it is quite expensive. So initially I didn’t want to apply for it. Instead, I was hoping to find something myself. Unfortunately, it turned out almost impossible because most of the contracts for rent here are signed for 6-9 months minimum, while I needed a place for 4 months only. After several unsuccessful attempts to arrange accommodation myself, I realized that I had no other way but to apply for the university accommodation and accept the cost of it. I got a room offer in just a couple of days after sending the application. Then I paid rent for the whole stay at once, and was happy that I didn’t have to worry about it anymore.

Place where I stay in Coventry

Singer Hall

Singer Hall of Residence

It’s called Singer Hall of Residence. There are around 50 blocks. Almost all blocks have 3 floors, and each floor has a flat with 6 single rooms, 1 kitchen, 1 shower, 1 bathroom, and 1 toilet. I share a flat with 5 girls – 4 of them are Dutch and 1 is French. So far we get along pretty well. 😀

The location of the halls is really good. Singer Hall is situated almost in the city centre, it takes around 7 minutes to get to the university from here. Living here also guarantees a free membership for a sports hall. (I have yet to check out the place, though.)

 In general I am really content with the place where I live but there’s always a ‘but’. When I moved in, I found out that the kitchen was unequipped. There were no plates, no cups, no cutlery, nothing at all… So we had to either bring everything with us or buy it here. And as we are here for 4 months only, buying new stuff didn’t seem appealing at all. Oh well… we had no choice. At least we didn’t have to buy a microwave and a kettle – they were provided. So the first weekend in Coventry I spent unpacking and shopping for necessities in IKEA.

My room

My room

On the territory of Singer Hall, you can also find a communal area, where the reception, postboxes, and a laundry room are. Unlike dormitories in Sweden, you have to pay to do your laundry here. And yeah… it’s not cheap.

 

 

 

Freshers’ Week

Saturday was an official arrival day for freshers and exchange students. It was also the first day of the Freshers’ week – a week full of parties.  On Saturday there was a “Welcome Party” for all new students in a nightclub somewhere in Coventry. However, no one among people I know went there. Everyone was just exhausted after traveling.

On Sunday, when I came back to my new home after a trip to IKEA, I came across some extremely cheerful people who were collecting residents of Singer Hall for a pub crawl (another event of the freshers week). Not being a fan of that kind of having fun, I decided to skip the event and have a quiet evening reading a book instead. As I heard from some other exchange students later, the event went well, and everyone was amazed by how much the Brits could drink. 😀

Induction Week for Exchange Students

The first week of the university was an Induction Week. So on Monday morning all exchange students headed to the university to listen to information about the upcoming semester in Coventry. Finding the building where the first lecture was taking place was a bit of a challenge. The university is quite big and we just didn’t know where to go. After some time walking back and forth between the university buildings, our group of lost exchange students, which by then grew from 3 to 10 people, eventually managed to find where to go.

During the day we attended several lectures where we were welcomed at the university, told about how to use the library, how to enroll, and were also given some general information about living in Coventry.

In the evening there was another party for freshers that I decided not to attend. But again I heard that it was fun.

Societies Fair and Enrolment Problems

On Tuesday morning we had some more lectures. This time we received information about different modules and courses that we could study at Coventry as exchange students. All the courses were in the faculty od Business and Law. I picked some courses in the departments of social sciences and languages. I chose 3 different courses: Journalism, Ethics and Democracy, Foreign Policy Analysis, and A History of International Crime.

That was also a day for the non–EU exchange students like me to enroll to the university. Not everything went smooth with it, though. Unlike EU students, who could do enrolment online, I had to go to the Student Centre and enroll in person. For some reason the system didn’t want to let me enroll, so I had to consult the university staff several times.  Only after the third attempt I finally managed to enroll. After the enrolment, I was able to collect my student ID –  a card with picture (probably the worst picture I’ve ever had) that proves that I’m a student at the university here and allows to use the library facilities.

Erasmus Exchange Society

Erasmus Exchange Society

In the afternoon, the Societies Fair was held outside of one of the university buildings. At the fair lots of various societies were presented. A society is a group of people who have some common interest and usually meet up once a week to do whatever they like to do. Coventry university has more than 100 societies for each taste. I noticed several religious societies, societies for crafts lovers, bakers, musicians, dancers, scientist, mathematicians, and many others. So everybody can find something interesting to do here. All we needed to do at the fair was to leave our contact details at the society stalls that we found interesting, so the representatives of those societies could send us emails with more information later. Personally I left my email address to several societies. Among them were rock society, baking society, photography society, Erasmus society, a society with an interesting name and not very clear purpose ‘International Disaster Concern’, and some other societies that I don’t even remember now. However, to become a member of a society you have to pay a fee that ranges from 2 to 15 pounds. Obviously, I am not going to join all those societies, so I still have to choose what exactly I want to do here.

Trip to Birmingham

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Birmingham New Street Station

As I eventually managed to enroll on my course, I didn’t have to go to the university on Wednesday. (There was only one session about enrolment that day). So I decided to join some other exchange students and go to Birmingham.

We decided to go there by train from Coventry. It took us around 15 minutes to walk to Coventry train station, and then 25 minutes to get to Birmingham city centre.

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Birmingham Council Hall

First, we went to check out a big shopping centre, which was right in front of the train station there. But later also explored the city. We walked to Town Hall and the city library. Even though we didn’t really get to see much of the city, I still liked it a lot. So I will definitely go there again.

Also, Sports Fair took place on Wednesday. This time different sports that student could take up at the university were presented. As always, a lot of different things were displayed. Coventry University students are very lucky to have such a wide variety of activities. Among some typical kinds of sport, like football and basketball, very unusual ones, like skydiving, were presented. But as I’m here for one semester only, I don’t see much sense in joining any of them.

International Party

As I’ve already mentioned above I’m not really a party person, but on Thursday I decided to go out and have some fun. Moreover, it was an international party – a wonderful opportunity to meet new people from all over the world. The party was held in a night club. Students were given flags of their countries, so everyone could tell where the others were from. There were actually quite a lot of Swedish people at the party. I can’t say I met a lot of new people there, still I had fun and enjoyed the party a lot.

Overall Impression after a Week in Coventry and Some Other Comments

Today is Friday, so it means that it’s already been a week since I arrived in England. It also was the last day of the orientation week. Today we had a chance to sign our learning agreements as well as arrival forms. Without a doubt, the last week was a wonderful one (even the weather was nice most of the time here!)

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Coventry Cathedral

As for the city… well, it looks nice and old. There’re a few things to see and do. Also, it’s located in the middle of England, so it’s quite easy to get wherever you want to from here.

I like many things about being here. I like that everything in Coventry is in a walking distance, so you don’t need to buy a bicycle or use busses. I also like that my new university provides so many opportunities to its students not only to study but also to be active even after their classes.

Of course, not everything is perfect about Coventry University.  For example, organisation of the events for exchange students is not brilliant. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as ESN to bring all exchange students together at Coventry University. So Erasmus students should be proactive themselves, search for information, and join events for freshers when they feel like partying and meeting new people.

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Societies Fair

Also lack of information about events that were taking place during the first week from the university staff caused a bit of confusion among exchange students in the beginning. But, of course, one person can’t control everything. However, if we really needed to know something, we could always email a person who was responsible of the exchange students, and she would answer all our enquiries rapidly.

There were some other things about the UK that seemed a bit weird to me in the beginning, too. For example, sockets, separate taps for cold and hot water, and peculiar left-hand side traffic that was driving me crazy in the very beginning. Now I guess I am getting used to those things, though. At least I know where to look when I cross a road now. 😀

To sum up, I like being here. Despite all those small unpleasant things that I mentioned above, I do not regret coming to Coventry. I am sure this semester is going to be very interesting and full of unforgettable moments.

And if you actually managed to finish this, then I just want to thank you for reading!

To the uni and back…in pictures

Exactly the same

Exactly the same

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Human - drawn lines

Human – drawn lines

Morning dusk

Morning dusk

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Downhill

Downhill

St. James Park Stadium - shows just how loyal to football the English are

St. James Park – shows just how loyal to football the English are

So, quite recently I managed to wake up before my alarm clock went off. I had a 9 p.m. lecture and set off around 20 minutes earlier than I was supposed to, so, instead of wasting my time doing nothing useful, I took my camera with me and took pictures on my way to the uni and back. What you see above is what came out of it.

Enjoy!

P.S. When I was taking the third picture, two people came up to me, showed me their police badges and strongly advised me not to carry my camera in my hands as much as possible because of how criminal the area is. They were actually undercover ! And how nice of them 🙂