What preparations have to be made in advance of the stay abroad?
Unfortunately, my university did not offer any study visits to an English-speaking country, which is why I independently looked for a place at a university abroad. I then looked for organizations on the Internet and found different ones. At MicroEDU , I found the range of universities in English-speaking countries very appealing, which is why I first called them to ask for more detailed information. The woman I spoke to on the phone was very nice, helped me with all my questions and sent me the Birmingham University application documents after our interview. I then filled out all of the application documents and sent them back to MicroEDU. However, you should plan enough time to fill out the documents (more than two months), as you also need two letters of recommendation, for example. The entire application process was done through MicroEDU. Until shortly before it actually started, all contact between the University of Birmingham and me was through MicroEDU. MicroEDU was a competent point of contact. I could call with questions and emails were answered on the same day. Even after applying, I received a lot of important information through MicroEDU and was able to contact the organization with questions during the semester. According to abbreviationfinder, University of Birmingham is also known as UOB.
After receiving acceptance from the University of Birmingham, the University of Birmingham offered me the opportunity to apply for a dorm room. You should apply for a room immediately and not postpone it, as the rooms are quickly allocated and places in coveted dormitories such as Viktoria Hall are quickly gone. A few days after my application, I was offered a room in the tennis court in Vale (approx. 10 minutes’ walk from campus). At first I was unsure whether I would like to accept this offer, because the rooms in student residences in England are significantly more expensive than rooms in private apartments (often twice as expensive). In the end I decided to take the room in the dormitory because I didn’t want to look for a room after only three months.
In retrospect, I found that this was a very good decision. It is true that it is written all over the Internet that it is very easy to find a room in a shared apartment in Birmingham outside of a dormitory because the supply is greater than the demand, which is correct so far. However, landlords are reluctant to rent their houses for less than a year. This makes finding a room on your own difficult for those who only stay for one semester. I would recommend anyone staying for an entire year to find a room on site themselves. It is completely sufficient if you do this shortly before the start of the semester. However, I wouldn’t rent a room over the internet without first seeing it. Exceptions are the student dormitories. All, I’ve seen were okay so far. In addition, there was a reliable technical service in the event of problems.
I remembered particularly positively that the first week at the University of Birmingham was reserved exclusively for getting to know other students and getting to know the university. It was enough time to settle in before the trimester really started. This week there were numerous events, both during the day and in the evening. This is where I made most of the acquaintances and friendships that have accompanied me throughout the trimester. In my course of study, I tended to get to know fewer people. This was mainly due to the fact that I took courses in the third year, where there is generally little interest among students in making new friends. There were also fewer other international students this year, as most exchange students take courses from the first or second year. It was therefore very good that the university made so many alternative offers that made it possible to come into contact with people.
All of the university’s buildings are on a large campus. So you don’t have to drive all over the city to get to lectures or seminars. There are also plenty of places to buy a coffee, meet friends, or study. The technical equipment of the University of Birmingham is also to be emphasized. For example, there are PC workstations with large touch-screen monitors in the library. I also found it good that all lectures were recorded on video and uploaded to a student platform called “Canvas”. On the one hand, this means that you don’t have to be present at every lecture (for example, if you want to spend a long weekend in another city in England). On the other hand, this is helpful for learning on exams, as you can then watch the lecture again.
Another positive thing to be emphasized is that the psychological department is very well organized. The assignment of modules was simple and clear and there was a detailed description of the content and the examination requirements for each module. I could easily change courses at the beginning of the semester if they didn’t meet my expectations.
In other departments, however, the organization was not as good as I heard from friends. On the one hand, selected modules overlapped so that other modules than the desired ones had to be taken. Sometimes the lecture, workshop or seminar dates changed weekly, which made the overlap of courses practically indispensable. With a friend, it was also not clear until a week before the exams when she had to take which exam. In the psychological department, however, this was clearly regulated and there were no problems. I also liked the fact that I received written feedback for my homework. I am not familiar with this from my university in Germany, but I think it makes a lot of sense.
The only problem I had on site was that I couldn’t handle all of the university’s workload. The academic year at the University of Birmingham is divided into three parts: two trimesters, in which lectures and seminars take place and occasional homework must be written, and a third trimester, in which exams are written. Since I was only in the first trimester at the University of Birmingham, I couldn’t take the exams in the third trimester and was therefore given alternative exams. This was an additional term paper in one module and an extended term paper in another module. I only managed the regular workload, but couldn’t do the extra work. One of the reasons for this was that I gave myself a lot of time to write homework and I did not have to rely on passing the courses. That is why I was less motivated to cause unnecessary stress.
My stay at the University of Birmingham was an enriching experience that I would not want to miss and I can recommend the University of Birmingham as a study location to anyone.