Reading Uni here I come! Past Review

By (English, Texas Womans University) for

ISA Study Abroad in Reading, England

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I was able to make a few good friends during my stay--both with British students and with other international students. I felt that I was stretched and challenged academically, which I hope will lend itself to the rest of my studies at my home uni. Studying in England didn't really have a huge impact on my cultural awareness as I lived on Okinawa, Japan for 2.5 years previously, however, it did show me how cultures can be so very alike and dissimilar at the same time.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The work load was both lighter and heavier. All that I had to do was write 1-2 essays per term for my classes since I was not taking Exams in the summer. So, lighter because I had no (official) homework, but heavier because I had to make sure I was reading materials needed for class without a professor guiding me by the hand. Over all, tho, I feel that I learned and was stretched as a student--more than I had been at my home university.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

ISA's office was not based in Reading, tho staff came at least once a week to make sure we were doing ok. We also had the email, phone number to the office, and the director in case we needed to get a hold of someone between visits. They also sent out a weekly email updating us on what the coming week held--both program events & events in Reading and London.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I felt the dorms at Reading Uni were really good. You didn't have to share a room, and you also didn't have monthly hall meetings you had to attend. I was in a catered dorm, but the kitchen (1 on each floor) was adequate for any cooking I felt like doing. The shower was small, but also adequate. I did have to buy sheets (I purchased them thru the school, much cheaper than buying in town, but also a cheaper quality) and ended up also buying a hot water bottle & fleece pajammas to help stay warm over winter as their heating wasn't -quite- up to where I wanted it to be. I was in St Patrick's Hall, in Chedworth, so my room was a bit different from those who were staying only 1 term. Ched is a small converted house by itself--not in an actual dorm or a converted townhouse like St Pat's other buildings. Because of this, I didn't have much trouble with drunk college kids, or people blasting their music at 3 am.

* Food:

Cafe food was your typical cafeteria food, except a bit better, aside from the meat. (England's quality of meat seems to be a bit lower than the US's in general.) In town, the food is much better and also really good. The Town Centre offers your traditional pubs along with places catering to college students. I recommend Sweeney & Todd for their meat pies (they have vegetarian options).

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Being so near London offered a LOT of different options. I was able to see a musical performed, participate in a fashion show (via a friend of the Director's), and see the famous sites--such as London Eye, Jack the Ripper Walk, Royal Observatory and others. Outside of London, I particularly enjoyed the ISA excursion to Canterbury Cathedral and Dover Castle, tho Warwick Castle was also amazing. The Trips to Bath, Stonehenge, and Brighton were only so-so, but still enjoyable. Out side of ISA excursions, I was able to visit a friend in Exeter, exploring the surrounding areas such as Castle Drogo (built around the World Wars), Dartmoor, Wells Cathedral and what I can only call 'traditional Devon countryside.' I was also able to make it up to Cardiff, Wales and spend a day at its Castle and Bay and took a brief tour of Cardiff Uni.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

With safety, all I can say is, use common sense. Walking along (drunk, totally sober or anywhere in between) isn't really a smart idea regardless of your nationality. Not that Reading was any more dangerous than a typical college US town. Because things aren't like how we've been brought up, just keep aware of what's going on. That being said, I often walked to the Town Centre by myself and felt perfectly safe, if tired, the whole way. With regards to healthcare... its not the US. Their system is both a little more laid back (vitals aren't taken) and sped up. I had to go in a few times for minor issues, which were dealt with swiftly and professionally by the Drs there free of charge. I just had to let ISA know when I had an appointment and if the result was anything they needed to know about--like prescriptions or something that could/would be an on-going thing.

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)

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
  • Local Students

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? If you are wanting and "English experience" without the hustle of London, Reading is prolly it. Its close enough for a day trip, but far enough away that life can slow down.