England:Somewhere I want to Return to Very Soon Past Review

By (I-Art, St. Cloud State University) for

St. Cloud State University: Alnwick - St. Cloud in England

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Yes, traveling provides you with a perspective that you could not have gotten any other way. Not only do you learn more about another culture, you tend to learn a lot about your own through the differences in your home system to theirs and also the similarities. It gives you the ability to look at the way your country does things and make a more educated decision on if it really is the 'best' or 'only' way to get things done. I loved England more than any other country I've been to so far, and I have been to many. So far, I'm the same in my academic interests, but I have added a future trip back to England to my plans.

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 teachers from England always taught in lecture. I thought the grading was rather easy compared to most American universities however, I thought we had more of a work load then I wanted since I would have rather been out exploring than sitting in class or doing homework. However, we did get enough time to do both the school aspect of things and getting out into the community.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

My England program was a small group of thirteen. The English people know more about our country than we do in most cases especially when it comes to politics. Most of my expectations were met, there were a few times when it took an extraordinarily long time to get something accomplished, but that usually had more to do with communication between the international campus and the one in America.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

We live in a 'dorm' like setting, however out 'dorm' is on the inside of the Alnwick castle (used in the Harry Potter films). There are guards at every entry around the outer gate and we have passes that allow us access into our part of the castle and also into the gardens which are accessible to the public, but we don't have to pay to get in. So it's as safe as could be, plus the town of Alnwick is small and everyone there is so good to us. As far as proximity to class, your classes are right in the castle so you really can never be late to class. The nightlife starts to the left of the castle and just around the corner, there are many other pubs to go to through out the town. The Harry Lemon is my favorite and it's very close. You should bring your own sheets and towels, however there is a pottery room in the Castle that has just about everything you could want. My group was small enough that we could take stuff for free, other times they set up a sort of market and you can buy them for cheap. My host was the most amazing woman ever, they pair you up in twos so you don't have to go alone and I was off with my host every Sunday. She would take us out to eat and then drive us around to check out parts of England that we would never have gone otherwise. That being said, there were quite a few people who only saw their hosts once and never heard from them again. Don't come to the castle expecting a four poster bed and a butler, or a cold, grimy place made of stone; the rooms look rather similar to any dorm on campus, enough room to put your stuff in and you have your own heater (old ones, but amazing). The best part comes with the views you can see outside your window, trust me, it will make up for the normalcy of your room.

* Food:

They are very accommodating to dietary restrictions and many times I would have rather eaten the glutton free food over what I got served. However, they really liked their potatoes when I was there and there were a lot of repeats. The food is all home made, but it seems that the food is never the same from semester to semester. Perhaps you'll get lucky and get the better cooks. That being said, I would really recommend eating in the dinning hall despite the food. It's an amazing way to just sit and have some down time to talk to your friends and in many cases your teachers. Plus, you've already paid for it and trust me, you don't want to keep going out to eat in Alnwick when you could save your money for traveling. Pizza Royale is really good anytime, especially after going out to Penny Black (the only dance club in Alnwick so far). It also stays open until about 2am. I say that because everything in England (especially Alnwick) rolls up it's mats at 5pm. There are no 24 hour stores so make sure you get your groceries early and before the weekend. Morrison's and Iceland are good grocery stores to shop at and pretty cheap. For a sandwich or baked good, definitely stop into Gregs, it's amazing. Just walk around town, there are many places to catch something to eat.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The Lake District was a really great trip, and one of the few overnight field trips. In all honesty, I didn't like our field trips as much as I liked going places myself with a few friends. With this program it felt like they held your hand way to much most of the time. However, the free time on the trips is the best since you just go where you want to go. When you find yourself in Edinburgh, Scotland definitely go to the Camera Obscurra, it's a really neat place to check out. Burns Night (if you go spring semester) is really cool especially since we get to go to the great hall for it. Getting to see the working part of the castle where the Duke Percy and Duchess Percy live before it's 'made-up' for the tourists is also very special.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Alnwick is basically the safest place in the world, there are a few incidents where we would be in the pubs and some drunk English people who usually aren't from Alnwick would try to cause trouble with us or start a fight. None of it ever came to a calling the police kind of situation, but one of our students did end up with a fractured nose. The best thing to do is never go out alone and also to steer clear of people who are mean drunks or want to cause trouble. Almost every time something kind of bad went down, there were many people including managers or workers from the pubs who would jump to our aid and get things figured out so that no one ended up getting really badly hurt. The English have a free health care system, one of the first things you do when you get to Alnwick is fill out a health care form which is sent to the hospital just in case something happens and you need care. Most the time my class mates and I just went to Boots Pharmacy (amazing) and got generic medicines (sometimes even tea) for colds or sores. I remember there being a lot of vaccines that they recommend you get, but I don't remember having to get a lot of required shots.

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
  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Check the program that is going (it changes every semester) so that you can earn some credits towards your major while you are there. Go Freshman or Sophomore year because many of the courses will be generals. Even if you can't get anything beneficial academically I strongly suggest you go either here or somewhere because the benefits of studying in another country are worth it.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Contemporary Britian

Course Department: SSCI 001746
Instructor: David Young
Instruction Language: English
Comments: David is amazing. It's completely a participation/ open discussion class. Maybe two tests and he'll give you more than enough time to study. David knows a lot about the structure of his country and just as much about ours. Definitely more participation in David's class than any other I've been in.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Early Modern Britian 1529-1689

Course Department: History 001741
Instructor: Christine
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Her tests are pretty in-depth and are short if they only last 4 pages. However, she does give you a study guide and if you know everything on it (and I do mean everything) you'll be golden. I never got lower than a B on one of Christine's tests. Just study and you'll be fine. Your field trips are basically going to deal with exactly what you're talking about or at least be relivent to the time period. Christine is a walking history book, she knows so much information it's mind boggling. She is almost never late for class and she never forgot anything she needed. Class participation is basically the same, if she asks a question, raise your hand and she'll call on you. Or you can even just say the answer in most cases.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Intro to British Culture and Observations/ Reflections of England

Course Department: INTL 101 003797 and INTL 201 003798
Instructor: Bev Kochman
Instruction Language: American English
Comments: I put these two courses together because they are very much linked courses. 101 you take before you even go overseas and it is basically a course that is designed to help you to get to know your classmates and also your host country. 201 you take when you get over to England and all you have to do is write a reflection (one page) about the Friday field trips. You only have to write maybe six of them and then two other papers on the side. There isn't a set class time, it's all based on-line just writing a page paper and submitting it.
Credit Transfer Issues: