ISA England: The BEST Program for an Amazing Experience in England! Past Review

By (Communication, Washington State University - Pullman campus) for

ISA Study Abroad in Reading, England

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My experience was definitely worthwhile. I definitely hope to go back someday, and have been considering careers with the option to work abroad. England and the rest of the UK are an amazing place and you will definitely fall in love with the place, the people, and even the food. The program really helped to get me out of my comfort zone and the people you meet are just phenomenal. You will definitely not regret your trip.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The academic system there is much different than ours, however I was able to get into the classes that I needed/wanted. The workload is much different from American universities. I only had about 5 hours of class time each WEEK, whereas I've had days with 8 hour of class time in the U.S. There is no busy work; for my classes, I had one maybe two papers assigned at the most and sometimes a small group project. They have finals at the very end of the year, in the summer, but I did not have to take them since I was only there for Fall term. The students that only stay for Fall and Spring also do not have take the finals. Additionally everyone I knew there had a three day weekend, be it Friday's with no class or Monday's with no class which really made it easier to travel. The classes were taught by actual professors and they were very knowledgeable. Nobody texts in class which was a nice change, people were more respectful and quiet during lectures.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The program size was perfect, the program administrators were very welcoming, friendly and knowledgeable. The only problem that I had was the office was located in London, so some of the amenities that the London students were able to enjoy weren't as easily attainable for us since it was a train ride away. I never had any issues that I absolutely needed resolved but it would have been nice to have a Reading office as well so we could stop in more often. The program definitely exceeded my expectations; the staff were awesome at helping us to adapt and get into the classes we want and just making our stay in England as amazing as possible.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The dorm itself was nice enough; the beds were pretty comfortable, the rooms were pretty spacious and comfortable. The issue I had was with the people on my flat. Our floor was seriously 6 or 7 of us from the program and then a group of 3rd and 4th year men who were all very good friends. They were very loud and obnoxious and would make horrendous noise at all hours of the night. I wished we had been in a different dorm, such as St. Patrick's where 2 of the other students were, since it was more friendly and inviting than ours. I also would have preferred a dorm with an actual kitchen because the cafeteria food was very often disgusting.

* Food:

The two stars are for the cafeteria food. It lives up to every stereotype you've ever heard about British food being bland and awful. The lunches were alright but dinners were often very awful. The lunch ladies didn't even know what some of the stuff was! I ended up ordering out often but it wasn't very expensive. Any of the restaurants in Reading and London that I ever went to were always delicious. It's basically like the U.S. in that dorm food is never very good. You can get by but it's just not enjoyable most of the time.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The excursions we went on were fantastic! We were definitely able to get into places and parts of attractions that you could not have gotten into if you weren't with the group which was very cool. The tour of the WWII tunnels in Dover was incredible, as were all of the castles. The Scotland trip was amazing, despite the transportation issue we experienced. I would have loved to go on the Bulgaria trip but it was just too much money. The only thing that bugged me was that the website listed a lot of trips that were actually only for Spring students. It was disappointing that we had to arrange our own trips to Bath and Stonehenge but Spring students were taken there for free, yet the programs cost the exact same price.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I felt safe the entire time I was in England. There was a period of time where the U.S. urged caution to travelers going to Europe for fear of a terrorist attack but luckily that never happened. The only times I felt somewhat unsafe were during taxi rides as they drive very different from us!

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

  • Americans
  • International Students
  • Local Students

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Definitely start saving ASAP. The exchange rate is not favorable right now from the dollar to the pound. That being said things are relatively cheap once you get there, it's only the conversion that truly hurts. Never get your money exchanged at the airport, it's a massive rip-off. Visit the London office as much as you can, it's so warm and inviting and there's always food. Make sure to go with an open mind and sign up for every excursion you can!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Introduction to Environmental Science

Course Department: ES1B1
Instructor: Hazel McGoff
Instruction Language: English
Comments: The class was very good, lectures were informative and interesting. Hazel really knew what she was talking about and was very interesting. Very warm and friendly toward me as a new student with no background in environmental science. Definitely would recommend! I did not participate as much but that was partly because I'm not a big science person.
Credit Transfer Issues: I had some trouble getting the course approved as a lab course, so make sure you save every lab paper you ever get. Luckily almost all of it is available on eLearning so I was able to get the papers from there and get my lab credit approved.