University of Reading (England) was the BEST experience ever! Past Review

By (Fashion Marketing, Kansas State University) for

ISA Study Abroad in Reading, England

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Yes, it was SO worthwhile! I would have stayed there for my entire college experience if I could have! Through this experience I've become a more relaxed person (I was a very stressed perfectionist before), much more independent and confident, and I accept myself more. I think that the English are much more accepting of individuality and realize that people aren't perfect, which was nice. This experience makes me want to come back to England after I finish studying and I think that it'll probably happen! It hasn't changed my academic interests at all, but I'm not so stressed about what kind of job I want after college, I just know that I want to be able to keep traveling.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The workload wasn't bad but it's strange to have your grade determined by only a few essays instead of lots of little assignments.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The ISA office was in London, a 30 minute train ride from where I was in Reading so the only time we went there was for the orientation at the beginning of the fall. A staff member came over to Reading at least once a week though to check on us and give us train tickets and information about excursions which was nice. I could always email or call them if I had a problem.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was assigned a different dorm than all the other students in my program so that was strange at first and I never did become really good friends with anyone in my dorm, but the room itself was nice! It felt very safe to me, it was located a block off campus so there were a few nights I had to walk back there by myself but it's a nice neighborhood so I didn't worry too much. It was about a 15 minute walk to all my classes if I walked leisurely but to get to nightlife (other than a nearby pub) it's about a 30 minute walk or a 10 minute bus ride. I had to buy a lot of things for my room like sheets, toiletries, towels, decorations, hangers and I just gave all those things away when I left.

* Food:

If you're catered (as you would be in this program) you can use your food money at any location on campus that sells food except the campus store. They gave us about 50 pounds a week which was more than enough money for most weeks so on Fridays I ended up stocking up on food for the whole weekend because the money didn't transfer from week to week. I barely ever ate out except when we went on excursions or for special meals because of this, and it was really convenient!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

ISA took us on lots of excursions, it seemed like we only had about three free weekends! I definitely saw places in England that I probably wouldn't have gone to without ISA. My favorite was the city of Brighton and it was also cool that they took us to see the Olympic Park that was under construction.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Very safe. Obviously, girls try not to walk alone at night. Pepper spray is illegal to carry in England. I did have to go to the health center on campus once and it was super quick, I was in and out in about 15 minutes without having to pay anything! During Fresher's Week make sure you sign up with the health clinic though, I think that's why it was so fast.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I tried to give myself a 100 pound limit for each week. It worked for a bit...
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Try to give yourself a budget but also remember that it'll probably be a while before you get to come back to Europe again so don't completely limit yourself because you're worried about money, live it up! Unanticipated expenses were maybe that membership to the gym on campus and the university's societies weren't included by just being a student, I think I paid about 70 pounds to be in fencing, 20 for the musical, and, silly me, about 100 pounds for a semester of gym membership that I didn't really use.


How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Excursions
  • Meals included
  • Helpful staff and great other students
* What could be improved?
  • Cost (less would be nice, it was pretty expensive)
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? A student who doesn't want to be 100% independent while abroad would benefit a lot from this program. All the other American students from my program were some of the best friends that I made there and the excursions ISA planned ensured that I was never bored and learned lots while seeing more than just the city I was studying in. It was nice to not worry about my housing, health insurance, and meals and that was one of the reasons I eventually chose this program. I also chose Reading because it was outside of London, yet close enough that I could go into the city whenever I wanted. I really didn't go into London as much as I thought I would though, and that seemed to be the case with everyone else too (but we did go pretty frequently!). The train tickets were just a bit expensive to go every weekend, about 20 pounds if traveling by yourself and 10 if in a group of four. Reading was a really nice city in itself though, and I was never very bored!