Essex. Exchange. 2014-2015
Hi Nutsies! My name is Rianne, I am 20 years old and a third-year English Language and Culture student at the University of Groningen. Right now, I am spending the first semester of this academic year at the University of Essex in England.
For as long as I remember, it has always been my dream to study abroad, preferably in England. I had extremely high expectations of my semester here, and I can honestly tell you that the University of Essex has lived up to every single one of them. I live on campus in a massive building called the Eddington Tower (see photo). I share a flat with 15 other students, who are either on exchange or in their first year (better known as ‘freshers’). Because we all share a large kitchen/living room, we got to know each other really fast and now it just feels like one big, weird, international family.
The University of Essex is all about family and friendship, and they try very hard to make you feel at home. A great example of this is the Welcome Week, the first week of your stay at uni. In this week, the university hosts many interesting events to get to know your fellow students, flat mates, the university, and all societies and sports clubs. Furthermore, because the university likes its students to be happy and healthy, you can join any sports club you like for free! (This should attract some Dutch students). I joined the university’s hockey club and I am having a great time playing for their team so far! Apart from practice and matches, sports clubs also organise ‘socials’ every Wednesday. These are (fancy dress) parties on campus or in town and they are seen as a way to bond with your team and club mates. What I like most about the hockey club is that there are hardly any international or ‘freshers’, which makes it a great way to get in contact with ‘natives’ (OMG) of my age.
As the semester at Essex is quite short (3 months), you are only allowed to take 4 courses, which I think is a shame. Luckily, the 4 courses I am doing are really interesting and nothing like anything I have done in Groningen so far. I am taking two creative writing courses (one of them is taught by dr. McCully!), one Spanish course and one Linguistics course (Language and Sex). The professors are very friendly and relaxed and they will try to help you wherever they can.
As I really want to make the most out of my time here, I try to visit as many cities and places in England on the weekends. Right now, I have visited Oxford, Cambridge and London (2x), and I plan on visiting Bath, Stonehenge, Liverpool and London (again) in the upcoming months.
My advice for prospective exchange students is not to be afraid. You might think that going abroad can be lonely or scary, but this is definitely not the case! If this is something you really want to do, all I can say is: just go for it and try to grab this opportunity while you still can!