(A) broadening experience – a foreign semester at the University of Leeds

Annika, student of Online Media at the Cooperative State University, reports on her foreign semester in Great Britain.

“Apart from Brexit, what do you associate with Great Britain? Drinking tea, rainy weather and football? I was an exchange student in England from January to June, and had the opportunity to get to understand British culture a little bit better. I've had uncountable experiences in these five months. Cycling on Irish islands, student radio conference in Cardiff, the Will Grigg Song at every street corner and in every pub. And of course the “Standard Culture Program”: Premier League, Full English Breakfast and trekking in Lake District.

My leisure program was enhanced by studying at the University of Leeds. Leeds is in the North of England in the Region of Yorkshire. The university is one of the biggest and most popular universities in England, with its 30,000 students. I already had the idea of doing a foreign semester at a British university very early on in my studies. However, before I could embark on a plane in the direction of Leeds, there were some things, which needed organizing: Selection of university, specialty, convincing Schmalz and the DHBW Mosbach, BaföG application, university application, processing university acceptance, flight reservation, transferring incidental tuition fees. I had already invested so much time in my foreign semester before the start of studies that I was happy when the studies finally started.

As an online media student, I was assigned to the School of Media and Communications. Since there is a similar course in Leeds with “New Media”, I could select the module, which I missed in Mosbach, a basic requirement, so that the studies could even be possible. The on-site support, despite larger classes, was good. The course structure was not very different from that in Mosbach. Specialties have a practical focus and the test performances very a lot individually. Independent study was however given great importance in Leeds. This is seen in the attendance time at the university: I regularly have 30 to 35 week hours in Mosbach, but I had only ten in Leeds. I needed to spend a lot more time in the library as a result, and struggle with specialist English literature. One can clearly see why tuition fees are required in England. There is continuous building and renovation, the lecture rooms and libraries are modern and very well equipped. All resources for producing good academic and test performance, from graphic programs on PC's to professional radio and TV studios, are provided on campus.

I was most impressed by the “Leeds University Union” (LUU), the students’ organization. There are many pubs, clubs and bars, a supermarket, a hair saloon and several club rooms, charity organizations run by students, the student paper and the radio studio of the student radio in the LUU building on campus. 200 clubs, socalled societies, also belong to the LUU. One can fence, surf, bicycle to Berlin for a good cause or make TV (programs). I connected to the student radio and had a weekly radio show named “Abroadcast” with other exchange students, which was definitely one of the highlights of my foreign stay. Finally, I even won the prize of “Best Female Newcomer” in the “Leeds Student Radio Awards”.

In the meanwhile, it has been six months since I have come back from English. Whether it was worth the trouble? I now have friends in England, Australia and Canada, I can create radio programs and speak English fluently. I've grown up with positive and negative experiences. However, there are tuition fees of 4,500 pounds and costs for hosteI, meals and travel required for the overseas semester. A romanticist might say that such an experience cannot be measured in terms of money. A economist might say that it is an investment in the future. It is a mix of both for me personally. In any case, I'd do it again.