Experiential rather than academic learning Past Review

By (Comparative Literature, Wellesley College) - abroad from 09/28/2015 to 01/22/2016 with

University of Leeds: Leeds - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I think the things that really stuck with me from abroad were more life lessons. I did a lot of things that I had never done before and I did them completely on my own, without a real safety net. I did a lot of traveling, I had to regularly cook for myself, and I had to figure out local transit systems on my own. I think that my experiences and time abroad definitely made me more self-sufficient and independent, less nervous about how I would handle myself in different and trying situations.

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 academics were definitely much less rigorous than at Wellesley. I often found myself with lots of free time or bored with the work that I had to do. There were good resources (i.e. resources for transitioning into the UK education system, and general online resources), but I often didn't have to make use of them, since I wasn't doing very intense academic work.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I didn't have very much interaction with a wide range of administrators, but the that I did interact with were very helpful. In particular, Sarah Prescott in Special Collections was very helpful in making sure I had a pleasant experience working in Special Collections. Also, Chris Megone, who was the main organizer of my abroad program, was very helpful and made me feel very welcome and supported at Leeds.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The rooms were nice, but living with random flat mates was not ideal. Many of the people I lived with were pleasant, but there were a few who caused a lot of trouble, and weren't very clean or cooperative. Also, most of the people living in my residence complex were first years, and often threw loud parties late into the night. The wardens weren't very strict with making sure that people weren't disturbing others with noise. My residence was also quite far from the University, about a 30 minute walk, which wasn't made totally clear before I applied to live there. The University was also a bit unhelpful when it came time to move out. As an international student, I had several things, like bedding and kitchen wares, that I needed to leave behind, but there was no removal service (even though there had been a delivery service) and no easily accessible place to donate my items. Many things I ended up having to just give away. Also, my housing contract was set to end January 16, but because I had an exam on January 20, I had to pay quite a bit extra just to have a place to stay until I had finished my exams.

* Food:

I was self-catered, so I cooked for myself. The amenities in the kitchen were alright, but not spectacular. There wasn't quite enough counter space, especially with 7 people sharing a kitchen. But it was tolerable.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I didn't really join many clubs because you had to pay dues in order to join, but I went to many of the free University-sponsored events at the beginning of the semester. There weren't quite as many of those, or as many free sightseeing trips, as the semester wore on.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have health care issues while abroad.

* Safety:

During orientation, the University kept reassuring us that Leeds was a perfectly safe city. However, you are advised not to walk through the park (a shortcut to/from campus) at night as many pick-pockets wait there. Also there were some more violent thefts, as well as a few violent crimes (rapes, and a brutal murder near my residence). I usually didn't do the 30 minute walk back to my residence if it was after dark, I would take the bus instead. When walking with a large group of friends, however, I felt a little safer walking home at night.

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)

Pretty easily if you don't do much. I spent about 30-40$/ week on food, and maybe 10-15$/ week on transportation. If I went out to dinner with my friends, it would cost me a little more. And if I wanted to do any sort of sightseeing or traveling (even the discounted day trips sponsored by the University), that would cost more. If I went on a University sponsored day trip that would cost between 20-45$ for the ticket, and another 15-25$ for food. The hard thing was dealing with the exchange rate, and the fact that everything is just more expensive in England than in the US, so you're going to spend more on everyday items that you normally would.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? maybe 60-70$
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? There are bus and train discount cards that you can get. I didn't get one because I didn't think that I would use it enough, but with all the little day trips I took and the amount of times I took the bus to and from campus, or to and from the grocery store or the city center, it would have saved me some money.


* 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? Direct Enrollment

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • 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?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Meeting and befriending students from all over the world
  • My work in Special Collections
  • The opportunities to travel
* What could be improved?
  • The academic rigor of the program (the classes)
  • Making the Rare Books program a reality, rather than something that is mostly a nebulous idea
  • Making it easier as an international student to deal with housing administration
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That I would end up having to reschedule (for a fee) my flight and pay extra to extend my housing contract because of when one of my exams was scheduled. That the program I was expecting doesn't exist, and that I would have to actively and aggressively seek out opportunities to experience Special Collections and Rare Books events at Leeds.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!