Charming Cambridge: Seek and You Will Find Past Review

By (Valparaiso University, Valparaiso University) for

Valparaiso University: Cambridge - Valparaiso University Study Center

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
You better understand the idea that America is not the center of the world and you are not "all that." You are humbled when you visit a European country and find someone that does not speak English and relieved when you find someone who does. You get to develop independence and gain the skills to travel the world. You have "wow moments" where you step back and think "I can't believe I'm here right now." Studying abroad is worth it.

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.

The professors were extremely knowledgeable and the classes were interesting. The set-up was purely lecture based with a light work load. There were very few grades, so every assignment was important. However, I did not feel the grading was rigorous. There was PLENTY of time for travel and play because the professors understood that we were abroad for the experience outside of the classroom. No classes on Fridays!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Mark Farmer, our director, was a fantastic teacher and resource. He was concerned for our safety at all times, but allowed us plenty of freedom to shape our own study abroad experience. He was very involved in our lives abroad, but acted more as a guide than a parent or rule enforcer. Mark and his wife Sarah are very kind-hearted, helpful people.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The house/study center we lived in was great. We had all house appliances and supplies that we needed. We all took part in weekly chores, and for the most part the center stayed very clean. All bedding, kitchen utensils, and furniture was provided. It was a comfortable place to live. The neighbors were wonderful and we never had any issues with them. I really liked the house, but did not like how far away it was from Anglia Ruskin University and local student hang outs (we were on the opposite end of town) and the train station. I felt secluded from local students. I had to go far out of my way to meet any local or international students.

* Food:

Shop at Tesco! It is about 15 minutes away by bus (#5 to Bar Hill) but has loads of good, cheap groceries. Try as many of the unique restaurants in Cambridge as you can, but be sure to watch your money. Cooking is much more economical. Pub food is England is known for. It's not bad if you like a hearty meal of meat and potatoes.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

During our "Tuesday Excursions" we went punting on the river Cam, out for tea and scones, on a trip to Ely Cathedral, to local museums, and more. I enjoyed these trips greatly.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Cambridge is very safe. The crime rate is very low (aside from bike theft) and I never felt uncomfortable walking alone. Be smart though, and don't go waltzing around in the dark by yourself. I never experienced health problems, but knew how to contact the doctor if need be (there was a doctor right across the street). Valpo pays for the visit and then helps you arrange something to pay them back at a later date. Very easy. Good healthcare in England. No vaccines needed.

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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? About $4,000 total throughout 4 and 1/2 months. This was very good considering that I visited 8 countries, bought food, toiletries, hostel rooms, train tickets, souvenirs, plane tickets etc. Each week varied because some I would be traveling and others I would not. Hard to estimate. The $4,000 did not include my Eurail and Britrail passes, nor my round trip plane ticket to/from the UK.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Overestimate how much you will spend. Think about finances realistically before leaving and reconsider studying abroad if you won't be able to afford food and travel. Keep in mind how awful the exchange rate is.


How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

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  • Other
* Who did you live with?

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  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

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  • Americans

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Someone who wants to travel as much as possible. Someone who wants a base of American students to live/interact with. Someone who does not know a foreign language. Someone who is enchanted by English culture. It is a great program and you will surely gain a lot by choosing it!