Challenging but rewarding experience! Past Review

By (Government, The University of Texas at Austin) - abroad from 09/29/2012 to 07/05/2013 with

University of Bristol: Bristol - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
That the education systems in the UK and US are a way more different than I first would have expected. That said, they are also very similar in ways since they're both universities: exams still are stressful, people still go out the night before tests, students will do the minimum in class sometimes, there will be that one guy who wants to answer everything, you'll have amazing professors and some you'd rather not take again, things will be a challenge but worth it in the end. Everyone is super friendly and wants to get to know you--give them a chance! Take advantage of new things, get your new friends to show you around and see their lives (even if they think they're "boring" I promise you'll see new fascinating new stuff). Return the favor and show them yours. Step outside of your comfort zone, you'll get the most out of the program. In the end it was extremely worthwhile and one of the best experiences of my life.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The academic rigor was high--although different than what I had experienced at my home (American) University. There was a lot more individual reading and study expected as opposed to face-to-face teaching and lectures I felt. Since you would only have 1-2 pieces of work for each class (normally an essay and a final) a lot more was expected of each piece of work. Where in the US system I feel you can work toward you grade (you start with a 0 at the beginning of the semester and from there work toward and A) in the UK system you start at the highest mark (a 70 or "1st") and the first piece of work you turn in determines where your grade will be pretty much. If you get a 60 or below it is extremely hard to boost your grade back to a 70 due to the weighting of the assignments (normally 50/50 or 40/60)

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

David Line and the whole study abroad office at Bristol were excellent. Working within the sometimes hectic and crazy British laws for migrants (as all study abroad students are) they made things easy and were always there if you needed help.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My hall was what I expected. Clean, decently priced, food was alright and the people in it were great!

* Food:

If you like English food not much to complain about. Eating meals at other halls/cafeterias on campus was easy. The food was good and when you had to pay it wasn't badly priced.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt like my friends and professors at Bristol helped me integrate instantly. I never felt like an outsider or that my opinions or beliefs were looked down on. Everyone was very accepting and lovely.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Healthcare was easily obtained. The University had a health clinic which I was able to register with via the NHS (which I was granted use to by the terms of my student visa). Although waits could be longer than you might get in American the quality of care seemed to be just fine.

* Safety:

Never felt unsafe during the day. At night there are some areas I might have avoided. The Downs in Stoke Bishop I would not recommend crossing at night, especially for females since sexual assault crimes had been reported there in the past--although none of my friends or myself had any issues. Other parts further away from the University and Stoke Bishop could be seen as rough, but you would have to go looking for those areas to find them, they were not typical student places.

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)

It could be done, but it would be hard. Being in a hall you are with all freshers (first years) and they want to go out all the time (their first year work isn't counted against their GPAs as such) so with going out you can rack up a bill quite fast. Also, the halls would only have breakfast and brunch on the weekends and no lunches during the week so you were forced to buy meals and drinks during the week. If you went the grocery store and didn't go out much it was possible. This is also subject to the exchange rate. While I was over there it was 1.6-1.8 dollars to a pound. So while it may not seem like much to locals, however, it added up quickly for me (being almost double at times). However, if you bought food at the store for meals instead of eating out and got most of your drinks at the hall bar (which was way cheaper than most bars/clubs when you went out) before going out it was possible to live on $100 a week.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $100 at the least (if I already had purchased the prev. week) otherwise $150-200
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Go with your mates to the store and split on communal things (Peanut butter, jelly, milk, cereal. etc.). Buy your standard student food (sandwich stuff, soup, etc) in bulk at the store. Alcohol is cheaper at the hall bars than when out, so best to spend your money there--or stay in at the hall bar for a cheap night "out". Also, a lot of the restaurants, shops, barbers, buses, trains, etc. have deals for students at the University so don't be afraid to ask!


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Exchange

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 10+

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • My Professors and courses.
  • The people I met.
  • Getting to travel.
* What could be improved?
  • Explanation on how the grading and testing worked.
  • How credits are dealt with. If you have a program that runs late (mine wen until the end of June) it can mess with your registration (you won't be classified as the right grade so you miss out on registration for example) and financial aid. Which can be quite a headache to try to come home and fix.
  • Things at my home university such as picking up honor cords (I was unable to pick up my honor cords for honors day since I was abroad but my parents weren't allowed to pick them up for me and so I may not get them once I return if they have run out), or applying for honor societies and scholarships were made difficult by being abroad since there was no way to turn things into the University or dept. as required. And again credits!! If you have to have a high GPA to study abroad would it not stand to reason most of the people going won't fail their classes? So surely you could award "provisional" credits to us (not give us A's or B's or whatever) but some way so we are properly classified so our registration and financial aid aren't affected by having the wrong classification.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Not to stress as much. If you are a good student and put the work in you will do fine. That said, I would also have liked to know how the grading/testing worked better. It is very disappointing to be told one thing about and exam and show up and it be a completely different thing. While this was only a problem in a single course it did end up affecting my grade. It would have also been nice to have been told that the housing you are guaranteed is with first years (18 year olds), This wasn't a problem for me, but I can see some people taking issue with it for various reasons.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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The Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.