A semester abroad at Keele University in England

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 - 11:03am

What were the best things about your experience at Keele University?

  • Overall, the experience of studying abroad was amazing. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to travel while I was studying. I was able to visit several countries in Europe and I had never been to Europe before this trip. I enjoyed being in a class with British students.
  • Having ample time each week and a whole week (week #5) to travel and participate in extracurricular activities
  • Being able to play on Keele University sports teams
  • Campus life is all-inclusive – most students hang out on campus, so there is lots to do!
  • Meeting people from around the world
  • Experiencing higher education abroad; the UK university system is very different from the States, very student-oriented, lots of time spent pursuing your own interests in a specific field (i.e., picking your own topics to research)
  • The best parts of my experience at Keele had to be making new friends and meeting new people, as well as the ability to travel relatively inexpensively within the UK and in Europe.
  • The university was just really awesome. The professors and program directors were willing to help you with changing your schedule or any topics you had questions on. I met a lot of people, from England, and from so many other countries, and was able to talk about the world and understand more about what is happening in the world and how different every culture is.
  • The best part of my adventure was meeting a large population of people who are from different cultures than the one I am from. I now have friends in Australia, Canada, England, Italy, and all over the United States. This part of the experience taught me more about other countries and humanity as a whole. 

What were classes like at Keele?

  • The classes at Keele were very different! For the most part, a typical class met once a week for two hours. We didn’t have class on Wednesday afternoons because that is when all of the clubs met. The professors I had were very nice and helpful. The grading system was a lot different than what we are used to (I would suggest looking up a comparison chart before you get your first grades back). They also have “markers” who help grade your papers.
  • There are different types of classes you can take (Labs, seminars, lectures, field work, etc.) and you only meet once or twice a week for a few hours, so much of the burden to learn in placed on the students, but you also get to direct what areas you want to study and learn about for papers and presentations.  Exams are mostly essays (at least in Psychology) and are coupled with a presentation or term paper.
  • Classes were longer at 2 hours but only met once a week. The classes were a lot smaller and specialized, as most ASU students are considered at least 3rd-year students, their senior year of college. The professors were nice and helpful, but there were some organizational problems specifically when it came to taking our exams and how the school dealt with international students. Another thing to note is that most classes only have two grades for the entire course. Typically these would be a presentation/paper and an exam.
  • All the courses I was in at Keele were very similar in set-up. Each class met once a week for two hours and the only grades you received were one 2500- (give or take 1000) word essay and one final exam. The essay was assigned early in the semester and, although there is no rubric, the professors explicitly explain and help you throughout the process.
  • Classes at Keele were different than Appalachian in a few ways. First, they typically do not meet as often at Keele, but the classes might meet for longer at a time. For me, the psychology classes were similar but more research based than theory and historically based. Lastly, they're different because you have a variety of accents spouting out ideas, which is pretty awesome. 

What was it like to live at Keele?

  • Very communal, you share a kitchen and bathroom with people on your floor, similar to App State's dorms.  Most campus food places are good and fairly priced but aren't open late (close around 7-8pm).
  • We had to live on campus, so it was kind of like being a freshman all over again. This has both pros and cons. It was enjoyable to meet British and international students living on campus. The public transportation (the bus) is extremely reliable and useful. However, it can be inconvenient. Overall though, I really enjoyed experiencing the weather in England and walking all over campus again.
  • Living at Keele was very similar to living on campus in the dorms at ASU. Most of the dorms are singles and many have a sink. Bathrooms are typically charged by floor and each dorm has a large and relatively extensive kitchen. Showers are not bad and the dorms are routinely cleaned. Beware of Hawthorns, a hall that is 15 minutes away from campus by walking. All other dorms are pretty much on campus. 
  • Living at Keele was interesting. As a junior, I was not looking forward to living in the dorms again, but it turned out to be very helpful and convenient. I lived in a flat with three other internationals, which was fun because we were able to learn more about the other cultures and countries. My friends lived in a single room dorm with a shared bathroom (in Horwood), which I would have preferred because they were able to meet more English people than I was able to.
  • Some days living at Keele was a challenge and others it felt like home, but that is what studying abroad is all about. The struggles mainly just stemmed from being outside of my comfort zone. The challenging days would end with me knowing something completely new about myself. Keele is filled with very friendly and welcoming people and that makes it much easier to be away from loved ones. 

What advice would you give to students going to Keele in the Fall 2015 cohort? 

  • My advice is to not hold back while abroad. Keele offers many sports teams and clubs that ASU does not, and I definitely would try as many as I could afford!
  • Also, although it is not normal in the states, I would try to embrace the college lifestyle of the English students and go out when they go out and attend your club’s socials. Not only will you meet more people but you will also get a better sense of what it’s like to be in university in England.
  • If you don't like your class schedule (for example, having Friday classes) go talk to your program director, and they will help you find classes on the days that you want, so that you can travel more often. Which brings me to my last piece of advice: travel often!!! England has a wonderful train system! And if you need help finding the best deals, ask the locals and they will always be willing to help.
  • Take advantage of EVERY opportunity. If you’re interested in any clubs or events on campus, GO. Even if you don’t know anyone go anyway, because so many people are so friendly in the UK. I also really recommend traveling as much as possible. I understand that money plays a huge role in this, but if it is possible, try to have some extra travel money. Try to plan your trips immediately, because the sooner you book tickets, the cheaper it is. Make sure to check out London, Scotland, Wales, the Lake District, and Ireland.
  • PUT MONEY ON YOUR KEELE CARD; you get discounted prices on food and drinks if you use your Keele card.
  • Try to fly in and out of Manchester Airport; it has a train station (Heathrow is a nightmare).
  • Food is more expensive than you expect, and the food on campus isn’t great. I would recommend cooking food in the dorm kitchens, which is more economical, but it can be a hassle, especially if you live 15 minutes away from campus. In general, everything is more expensive, so prepare for that. 
  • Travel as much as possible. The ability to travel in Europe and the UK this easily will not be around forever and take advantage while at Keele.
  • Get involved in some way. I found that sitting around on campus can be boring when you aren’t in classes or traveling. I ended up playing lacrosse, which was a lot of fun and gave me something productive to do when I wasn’t doing school work or traveling.
  • The first week is very similar to your first few days at Appalachian as a freshman. You need to accept that you will be uncomfortable for a little while until you adjust. Forcing myself to make as many friends as possible helped me, but something else might help you. Maybe exploring the area or attending all of the events will make it easier to adjust. Once you find your place, I can guarantee that you will find a piece of home at Keele.

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