Go to England -- you'll never want to come back. Past Review

By (Theatre, Alvernia College) for

University of Kent: Canterbury - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
In Canterbury, I got to experience English small-city life firsthand. London is a lot like other big cities, and although it does retain that Englishness, there's nothing like living in what is essentially a small city in the countryside. I think about Canterbury every day and miss it and I would eventually love to live in England.

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.

I love the English academics system -- there's no general education courses you have to take-- it's all in your major. As a result, Britain churns out students who specialize heavily in their subject. English Literature majors aren't distracted by Math courses; Chemistry majors don't have to struggle through an art class. You do have a lot of time free. I only had 5 hours of class time a week, but you have a lot of reading. English universities are big on you doing your own work on your own time, not having 15 hours of class time a week and teachers holding your hand. Yes you'll have flexibility in free time, but you better be prepared to read and write and research and do stuff. English Universities are for the self-motivated.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

My contact at Kent is named Hazel Lander. Hazel was a HUGE help with everything, any question I had she either knew the answer to, or she knew who would know. As an example, there was a computer error with my housing that I hadn't noticed until a week before I left. She literally must have dropped everything she was doing when I emailed her in a panic, because she emailed me back saying she worked with the department to get it right, and gave me my housing information. In fact, Hazel was so helpful that I'm considering trying to find work in a Study Abroad office just so that I can offer the same kind of help for a nervous, excited student studying abroad, like she helped me.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in Parkwood, which is essentially a neighborhood of flats. Flats are kind of like, a mix between an apartment and a house. There are 'row-homes,' and 3-4 'row-homes' will form a court in Parkwood, and then each 'row-home' structure will have about 4-5 flats. Flats are 2 story apartments: so ours had two bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen on the bottom floor, and four bedrooms and another bathroom on the upper floor. You'll become really close to your flatmates and the people who live in your court, but you'll also make friends other places too. My flatmates were an Armenian-Englishman, an Indian-Englishman, a girl from Holland, an English girl and another American girl. It was a lot of fun living with them, and, for the three of us studying abroad, to get to know our flatmates' groups of friends. England is a VERY sociable place, and if you have trouble making friends there, there's probably something wrong with you. Everyone wants to be your friend there. The housing was really well-appointed; the only weird things are, we didn't really have a living room, and British sinks tend to have two faucets: one hot and one cold. So trying to get warm water is a bit of a struggle. I loved having my own room, but still having access to flatmates to hang out with. They have more traditional dorms too, although normally still a bedroom a person, that are clustered in four bedrooms to a bathroom, and two clusters to a kitchen, cause I dated an English guy who lived in a setup like that. Parkwood is a 7-10 minute walk to the main part of campus, but it's so worth it. You can take a bus, but part of the great thing about England is walking everywhere. You get so much exercise, and the path to Parkwood is this gorgeous paved path through the woods, and sometimes you might see a chipmunk or fox dart by. Other places are available nearer to campus but I wouldn't have changed it if I'd do it over again. Parkwood is awesome.

* Food:

Two words: JAFFA CAKES!!! I miss Jaffa Cakes so much! They're little sponge cakes with an orange gel center topped by dark chocolate. So freakin good! You can get them in grocery stores and convenience stores and stuff. England has a terrible reputation for food, but all you have to eat is a traditional English Fry-Up for breakfast and you'll never believe that reputation again. They also have Sunday meals with some sort of almost-Salisbury-Steak-meat-except-better and potatoes and a yorkshire pudding, and let me tell you, Brits make the best gravy you'll ever have in your entire life. There were some small convenience-like stores on campus where you could pick up a pre-packaged sandwich or drinks or snacks to go and stuff. There were also no less than 5 (yes, FIVE) pubs on campus that served beer, cheap Snakebites (GO TO ENGLAND AND DRINK A SNAKEBITE!! DOO ITTTT! It's half ale, half cider and blackcurrant syrup. mmmmm...) and some pretty good food too. And by the way, young English folks drink their beer cold. FYI. Cause warm beer is gross. There are also a lot of great food options off campus. If you go into Canterbury, there are a few grocery stores (except, ironically, it's hard to find a pie crust for sweet pies) and restaurants, both swanky and cheap. Pasties are really good! And even some American fast food restaurants, in case you get a hankering for Pizza Hut or BK or Mickey D's (McDonalds food tastes different over there though). There are some really nice places too, like the Marlowe, or Cafe Rouge, which is a French place. If you take the bus up north to Whitstable, there's a REALLY great Fish and Chips place, but there are Fish and Chips places in Canterbury too. But you HAVE to try the kebabs (pronounced in England as 'keh-BAAHBS' with the 'a' like in 'apple'. They're sooo good!! Canterbury has a lot of kebabs place that are open til the wee hours of the morning so you can grab a lamb doner kebab in a pita with lettuce and tomato and some garlic sauce and walk up the hill back to University after a night of partying out in the clubs. Kebabs will MAKE your life.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The social and cultural aspect was the most enlightening part. England is a very social, friendly place. You can talk to someone in the street without worrying they want something, or want to mug you. English Universities call their clubs 'societies.' There were a LOT of societies at Kent, with a lot of stuff you could do. A Rock Music Society, a Pirate Society (you dress up like pirates and go drink at pubs), a Bellydance Society, and a Pagan Society (I'm Pagan, so that was really nice). You'll make so many friends, and when you leave England, they still stay in touch for years! They don't forget about you, nor you them. I can't even say enough how much I miss my English mates. Culturally, there's so much to see. We went to Leeds Castle, Stonehenge, a bunch of places in London, I visited friends and relatives in Scotland with my mom before school started. One of my classes involved going to theatre in London and Kent, which was excellent. Also, even just in Canterbury, there are buildings and structures older than European mainstream discovery of North America! This one place in Canterbury, Dane Johns, is a park bordered by Canterbury's old city walls (which you can meander a long, and see the holes that you could stick an arrow out of and shoot at people without them shooting you). Dane Johns has been around since the 1500's, but the big mound with the tower thingy on top has been there since the First Century AD, and it's been used as a place of enjoyment since before, I thought I read around the 1100's. The energy of the place is fantastic, just knowing it's been there for people to walk around and find peace at for hundreds and hundreds of years. Everything in England is just amazing.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I only had one health issue, and that was a pretty persistent cough, but my visa included NHS services, so I went to a British doctor, got prescribed some anti-biotics, and had it taken care of. By the way, the NHS was really convenient and efficient to go to. Although, the male doctor seemed pretty embarrassed when I asked him if the anti-biotics would cancel out my birth control. In America, they'd just tell you straight up, but I think I surprised him with the fact that I wasn't ashamed to ask and genuinely wanted to know how this would affect my body. Safety-wise, there were no issues. I even hitchhiked back to campus once when I decided at 1am (bored, not drunk lol) I was going to try to walk the eight miles to Whitstable. I got tired about three and a half miles into it (it's uphill!) and hitchhiked back with no issues. Granted, I wouldn't recommend that in like, the middle of London, but y'know. Also, when I visited London with my English then-boyfriend, he got kind of nervous around some areas at dark, but I didn't notice any issues at all.

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)

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

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

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Other
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • International Students
  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The people I met were, and are still, amazing friends
  • The culture; being there and experiencing it.
  • The classes were enlightening
* What could be improved?
  • Transatlantic flight prices :P
  • I wish I'd gone for a year, not a semester.
  • The cost of living was admittedly, kind of high
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I can't see this program not being of benefit to someone. University of Kent is a school that is very receptive to international students, and is one of the most socially-oriented universities in the UK. Academically, their faculty are some of the best, and there are courses that any one could find interest in. I really, truly, highly recommend it.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Shakespeare's Theatre

Course Department: DR612
Instructor: Darryll Grantley
Instruction Language: English
Comments: What an excellent class! This class is essentially a Theatre History course about what life was like for a theatre practitioner during Shakespeare's era -- social standing of actors and theatre professionals, how the public received theatre, the logistics of putting on a play in the conditions that were available, and more. Darryll is a thoroughly knowledgeable and kindly professor who is very well versed in his field, and has a great way of demonstrating how to find hints about the state of theatre during Shakespeare's time in his works.
Credit Transfer Issues: I transferred schools upon returning from study abroad (my home school and I had a falling out where they 'forgot' to tell me I was supposed to audition for the mainstage show that was presented the semester I was abroad) and so I had to deal with some headaches. But Kent is very helpful in dealing with credit transferring.
Course Name/Rating:

Performance the Seminar

Course Department: DR548
Instructor: Duska Radosavljevic
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This is not actually a performance class, but a class on how to write theatrical reviews, and how to dissect a performance and interpret how that performance affects the rest of the world, theatrical and non. It was such a multi-faceted, hands on course, with visits to professional shows in both Kent and London, discussions about theatre philosophy and introductions/projects on alternative styles of theatre, such as acting through dance, and verbatim theatre. Duska is an amazing professor who inspires you to think critically from multiple viewpoints. This is a great class for all theatre students, or even writing students who think they might want to do reviews at some point. It gets you interacting with others, with constructive feedback on your writing, and it also puts you out there into English theatre so you can experience it firsthand in an academic environment.
Credit Transfer Issues: It's kind of a funny story--after studying abroad, I transferred schools, so that caused me some trouble. But, University of Kent is really good about helping you choose classes that are relevant to you.