Not culture shock, size shock - quite a difference between this large university and my small college Past Review


University of Leeds: Leeds - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My study abroad experience was definitely worthwhile. My classes and professors were amazing. The resources of University of Leeds are amazing. The central location of Leeds is amazing. And my traveling outside of the UK was AMAZING. My biggest hurdle was just that it turns out that I'm a small school kind of person and Leeds Uni is definitely a big school. Personally, I feel much more confident after having traveled both in a group and alone in foreign speaking countries. Fending for yourself and making all your arrangements for yourself is really terrifying and fun. (Also, I definitely recommend the Eurail FlexiPass for anyone wanting to travel in Europe.) The strangest thing I learned from studying abroad was just how much I love the United States. We are so incredibly fortunate and lucky and friendly and spoiled. But we make our own bright future, we have nothing to be ashamed of. I loved talking with other travelers about the United States and seeing how some of the world views us. Through those discussions I really grasped how I feel about my country and how proud I am of it. Both its mistakes and successes.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month
The term and year this program took place: Full-Year 2009

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The English style of academics is very different from the America's. It's based much more on individual study than seminar collaboration. I found it very strange that I was in class so little. Several of my classes would only meet once a week for an hour for the lecture then another hour for a seminar. Some met less than that. Which was a strange departure from Barnard English classes where you meet in a group for 3 hours a week. There is also a lot more focus on textual analysis in England. At Barnard, analysis was based more in character and plot development, larger picture stuff. This textual focus was in all my class from Shakespeare to Jane Austen to Chaucer. It took a while to adapt to that style. Also, there is much less weekly work than at Barnard. We still had to read a lot but most classes had 1 exam or final paper that counted for your entire semester's grade. Which is really nerve-racking. Sometimes you would have to submit a 1700 word unassessed essay in the middle of the semester. But the professors were amazing. And having fewer lectures, they consolidated their information really well. I never felt like they were wandering. And they are great to come talk to after hours. (Sometimes it's even mandatory.)

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

They are pretty great responding through email, but I never saw anyone in person from the administration. But I think that's just because it's a really large university.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in a suite style (apartment style) similar to Barnard's 600s. Which was actually pretty difficult because Leeds doesn't have RAs to do community building stuff. And there were no common rooms in my building - Montague Burton. So it was really hard to meet new people. Even my flatmates were all international students - several of whom came with other students from their home universities. But I do know that Leeds has some other great housing which would be much better suited for international students. Specifically Boddington Hall and Devonshire Hall, which is corridor style, with a meal plan, and houses mostly English first years. So it's a lot more set up for bonding in those locations. I do wish Leeds has told me that before. <br /><br /> I lived in a single in an apartment style flat with a large kitchen but no common space. I cooked for myself (which worked out just fine). I did have to buy quite a bit of supplies for my room and the kitchen, but there is an Ikea about 15 miles away. My building, Montague Burton, is pretty good looking. It looks like any fairly modern suburban apartment complex, with a large parking/barbeque picnic setup in the middle. But the laundry was on the other side of the complex which was a little annoying. Montague is only a 1/2 mile from campus and is the closest off campus housing available. It is one of the cheapest as well, due to it's bare minimum approach. It's within easy walking distance to the city center, about a mile away.

* Food:

I hate to say it, but the stereotype about British food is pretty much true.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The daytrips Leeds set up were amazing. And the frequency of them did restrict my involvement in other clubs, but it was totally worth it. I guess, for the social scene you should know that a LOT of socializing is based around drinking and clubbing and pub crawls. Partly because people can drink at 18 in England. So all the freshman love to get drunk every evening.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Leeds is perfectly safe.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No


* 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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Umm... I usually spent around 70 pounds a week. Which can be done for less, but I wasnt doing crazy spending either. Mostly I spent on food (25pounds a week), daytrips (20ish every other week), clothes/random stuff (20 a week), maybe a couple pounds for the bus a week, eating out every now and then in the English versions of fast food. But mostly weekly expenses weren't that bad, it was the spending for larger things like room stuff or kitchen stuff and weekend trips and longer trips. For my month long backpacking trip, I ended up spending about $600 a week total. Hostels, food, attractions, souvenirs. I could have eaten out of grocery stores more, but I am pretty happy with how I spent my money on that trip. (And I can give anyone recommendations on hostels and such.)
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? You gotta remember that you'll need a phone. I got a pay-as-you-go phone. Which was like 15 pounds for the phone and maybe 3-5pounds a week in top-ups. Also laundry was big thing. It costs a TON of money to do laundry in teeny tiny washers and dryers. I did 3 wash loads every 2 weeks. And that cost 9 pounds. So for me, nearly 20 pounds a month in laundry. Also make sure to use the budget airline websites when planning your weekend trips. Like easyJet, Jet2, RyanAir, GermanWings, FlyBe. If you book far enough ahead you can get some fantastic deals. Also for getting from the US to Europe.


How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Fluent
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? English Native Speaker
If applicable, to what degree did your living situation aid your language acquisition?

Language acquisition improvement?

I got to practice my Spanish when I traveled in continental Europe.

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

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

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  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

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  • Local Students

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? If you are the type to enjoy drinking and socialization on that level and are really outgoing, I think a large university could be great for you. I'm a bit more introverted and the closeness and community of smaller schools is really more my thing. But Leeds was a fantastic school (maybe a bit boring as a city) and they really know how to give students the opportunity to travel.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

"Gender, Culture, Politics - Jane Austen" and "Feminity & Fiction in the Eighteenth Century"

Course Department:
Instructor: Bonnie Latimer
Instruction Language: Englsih
Comments: This professor was amazing!!! I ended up having her for both semesters and she thoroughly knows her stuff and how to lead a discussion. She's great on reviewing essays as well.
Credit Transfer Issues: Nope, it transfers perfectly.