After all my attempts to apply for a semester abroad in England directly through my home university had failed, MicroEDU was my last hope. Thanks to Christiane’s great support in the application process, whom I could always turn to with any questions, my wish to go to York St John University was fulfilled.
I had already taken a course there in 2014 called “English for Personal Development” and immediately fell in love with the city of York, the English culture and the people, and that’s why I decided to do my semester abroad there.
On September 12th, 2015 the time finally came. All the flights were booked, the suitcase packed, the course selection completed and the finances already settled, so that I could start my semester abroad without worries.
Anyone who is a fan of England should, in my opinion, travel to York once in their life.
York has become my favorite city in England. The history and the winding streets that make you think you are in the middle of a Harry Potter film are unforgettable. It’s also nice that much of the city walls around York are still in place. On these you can enjoy great walks with beautiful views of the cathedral in the center of York or the train station on the outskirts of York.
With the York Card, which you can buy for a small contribution in the city library or the little book café on the corner on the way to the university, you get many discounts for the many museums in York. You can also use it for free in the lower part of the cathedral (York Minster). However, it is also worth investing the 10 pounds to climb the roof of the cathedral. From there you have a breathtaking panoramic view of the whole of York.
It is also recommended that you take the chance and look around on days off and on weekends, because beautiful cities such as Leeds, Durham or Newcastle are not far from York and can be easily reached by train. Scotland is also not far away and is recommended. If you would like to travel to Ireland, you can book flights from Manchester for as little as £ 9. There is a direct connection to Manchester Airport from York, while Leeds Airport requires a bus. Train tickets can be purchased online via trainline.com or directly at the counter in York train station.
But now to my life as a student in York. I lived with a host mother with two dogs and a Japanese woman who was in York for an English course. Living with a true northern Englishwoman helped me a lot, as I only spoke and heard English and, above all, was familiar with the accent from the start. I can only recommend going with a host family to anyone who tends to get homesick and who wants to get to know the English culture to the fullest.
Many may be wondering if I by the guest had in a host family less contact with other international students or other disadvantages. I can emphatically contradict that! I did a lot with other students in the afternoons, evenings, and weekends. My accommodation was really perfect for me and I felt very comfortable there.
The Welcome Week began after a grace period of 1 ½ days. It was through this that the International Support Team led the way. This week was very helpful for orientation and was a lot of fun. I would recommend everyone to take part as much as possible and not just attend the compulsory events, because the voluntary activities in particular helped a lot in making new contacts quickly.
After this relaxing week, my courses began. When I got my schedule, I initially thought that 3 courses, about 10 hours a week, would be little. However, this opinion changed very quickly after seeing the Reading List, which tells you which books you have to read for each course. In addition, the scope of the texts I had to prepare for the respective course sessions was very large.
I took three courses, two in English literature and one in linguistics.
I particularly liked two of them, while I wouldn’t recommend the third one.
The following course was a Level 1 course called “Writing for Academic Success”. I had promised myself a lot under the title and hoped that the course would help me write my essays. Unfortunately, that was a fallacy. The course content was more similar to literary studies and the introduction to different types of text than that it specifically focuses on writing essays. Nevertheless, one gradually writes a portfolio in which one simulates the procedure of how one would write an essay. Furthermore, you had to give a presentation on a short story in a small group divided by the lecturer. For this you should first develop a suitable thesis and from this design the presentation, which should be supported with PowerPoint slides. Overall, the course requested writing and presenting as services,
My second literary studies course was a level 3 course. It was called “Shakespeare: Perspectives”. I was very satisfied with this course. It was led by two very competent lecturers, who you could tell that they love Shakespeare and have fun passing on content and ideas. For the course I had to read the following pieces: As you like it, Hamlet, Antony and Cleopatra, King Henry V and The Winter’s Tale. For 12 weeks it looks like a lot and it is, but you get a good overview of the variety of Shakespeare’s plays. We worked on each piece for two weeks. In the one-hour lectures, a brief overview was usually given and a main point of interest was determined. With As you like it, for example, it was the subject of “cross-dressing”, meaning that a woman dresses as a man. The seminars served to analyze individual passages of text with regard to these points of interest With the course were also a visit to the cinema, in which we were allowed to see the live screening of Hamlet, as well as a trip to London during Reading Week. In London we saw the play Henry V and visited the Golden Globe Theater.
As an achievement for this course, you had to write a 1,500-word essay halfway through the semester, which related to a piece that had been read up to that point, and at the end of the semester a 2,500-word long essay, which analyzed two of the readings and not in essay 1 Pieces compared. Approx. 15 theses were given per essay, from which one should choose a main thesis for his essay. However, if you had your own idea, you could discuss it with the lecturers in a tutorial.
The third course I chose was called “Semantics and Pragmatics” and belonged to the linguistics category. This was a level 1 course. The course was interesting and the lecturer was able to convey complex content very well. I had two hours of lectures every Tuesday morning presenting the topics for the week. The lecturer had prepared a handout for each session in which you had to fill in gaps. This ensured that you had the most important information at a glance, but also had to think along with it. In between, the Socrates app was used to determine whether the content conveyed had been understood by the majority and only if this was the case was it switched to the next topic. For the one-hour seminars there were always tasks that could be solved very well with the slides and your notes from the lecture.
There was also a kind of “competition”. For this one should come together in small groups from his seminar (3-5 people) and we were then given tasks every week that addressed and deepened the topics, such as a corpus analysis. The tasks should be solved together in a team and then had to be handed in like an essay. The group with the highest number of points in the end won. This competition was voluntary. Nevertheless, most of them took part with joy and enthusiasm. I can say that I had a great group and as an international student it helped me a lot to work in a group. It was not only helpful for my English, but also to help me understand complex content better. After a while, we also met in our free time and worked on homework together as a group. In this way we were able to optimally prepare for the seminars. The winner, in this case my group, received a certificate at the end of the semester that certifies working in a team, a cup and a ballpoint pen. The certificate can be useful for applications in later life. But even if you didn’t win, you made a lot of new friends and received good support through group work.
The achievement was to write an essay of 3000 words, which was divided into two parts. The first part was based on semantics. In this one first had to create a survey with Survey Monkey. You have chosen 4 different words: Either 2 adjectives and 2 nouns or 2 adjectives and 2 verbs or 2 verbs and 2 nouns. For example, the words I used were door, rose, proud and sad. The survey was then sent to fellow students who were asked to answer the question of what they associate with the individual words while reading. After you received your completed surveys back, you evaluated them and applied theories of semantics to them. You always had to keep the main topic of the essay, How do we understand each other ?, in the back of your mind in order not only to apply theories, but also to establish a relationship. During this first part we students received a lot of support and the drafts were even read and corrected. The second part of the essay then referred to pragmatics. In this one should analyze a text excerpt with regard to language situations between people.
I can only recommend this course because it was interesting and enlightening. The content was conveyed very well, so that everyone had the opportunity to complete the course with a good grade. In addition to the tutorials, the lecturer also offered drop-in sessions every Friday, to which you could appear unannounced at any time to ask questions.
In summary, I can say that the University of York was a great experience and the right decision. Not only the university alone, but also everything around it is impressive and worthwhile. I will never forget my time in York and I am already looking forward to my next visit there.
In addition, I can recommend everyone to use MicroEDU as a support, as they are very helpful and always approachable.