UK - London University College London

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2013-2014 Report 1

preparation exchange/placement application process

As for every exchange you have to do quite a lot of paperwork prior to departure. Make sure you do this in time to avoid stress.

counselling/support at home university Not much contact

academic preparation

I did not really prepare anything when it comes to academic preparation. My study so far was enough.

language preparation None

finances

London is expensive!! Prepare to pay a lot of money.. for everything. Try to get a place in one of the UCL houses, that is way less expensive than private accommodation. As an excchange student you are likely to get a place in one of the halls/houses if you apply in time. Unfortunately the post office in Holland lost my application letter which caused me to miss the deadline. I had to look for accommodation myself which costed my double the price of a room on campus.

study/placement abroad period

study programme/work plan (concerning content and organisational issues)

I did a combination of an internship and normal exchange. This was organized by my home institution. I worked at the Dutch department at UCL where I helped teaching students Dutch. I received 15 ects for the internship. Besides that I took two courses for which I will both gain 7,5 ects.

academic quality of education/placement activities

With regard to the courses I took at UCL.. I was a bit surprised by the academic level. Since it is such a well known university I expected the level of education the be very high. The work load however was way less than I am used to in Utrecht. Courses are less intense and it is very unlikely that you will fail a course. When I asked my teachers on what date you would have to retake a test/essay, they laughed at me saying 'there is no such date, it is very unlikely to fail this course'. This might be different for other

courses/departments though.

(The courses I took were Basic Swedish and Nordic Landscapes) counselling/support at host institution/organisation

Good. You can alsways go to the SELCS office with every question you have and they are really helpful! When you struggle with writing an essay because you have never wrtitten an essay in English before or you coul just need some help you can go to the SELCS writing lab. They have walk in hours or you can make an appointment. They are extremely helpful and friendly as well!!

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Don't know yet

student life welcome/orientation programme

Sign up for ISOP (International Student Orientation Programme) and just join some fun activities during the first week ('freshersweek'). There are loads!

accommodation

See above. The UCL houses I have seen were all perfectly fine. Not the most modern buildings but all very central and of reasonable size.

leisure/culture

Sooooo much to do/see. UCL's student union is very big. There are numerous societies you can join (for just a couple of pounds, really cheap) which organize a lot of fun

activities. There is also a Dutch and Flemish society which organize a 'koffieuurtje' once a week where you can meet other Dutch students at UCl and other students who are learning Dutch.

suggestions/tips

Join at least one society!!

conclusions

would you recommend this host organisation/destination to others? please explain YES! London is a very expensive city so you do have to keep that in mind, but it is amazing. There is so much to do and to see and it is great to experience this city with all the lovely people you will meet at UCL. Besides that it is a great university where you will feel very welcome and at home.

do you have any additional advice or comments?

Report 2

preparation exchange/placement application process

This all went very smoothly. I got clear information and emails about what my plan of action should be, so I knew exactly what to do. I was even selected to go to my first choice university, so that was wonderful. Although it was quite an amount of paperwork and I still had some doubts sometimes, I'm really glad I did this and the experience made it all worth it.

counselling/support at home university

The international office of Humanities was very good: you could ask all your questions during the consultation hours and if you wanted to ask something at a different time, they got back to your email real quickly.

academic preparation

I didn't have any specific academic preparation apart from the fact that I was already studying English in Utrecht. This includes introductory courses on linguistics, so the academic preparation was part of my degree programme here in Holland.

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language preparation

This was not necessary in my case, since I am studying English Language and Culture. I already knew English at an academic level and I was already used to classes being given in English.

finances

London is a very expensive city. Luckily, the website of UCL already prepared me for this and they gave a rather accurate overview of what kind of costs to expect. However, they didn't say anything about the costs of public transport in London. They assumed students would be situated near campus and would not need to travel much. However, I wasn't given student accomodation, so I lived further from campus. This meant I had to travel a little further, and although my rent was a little less expensive than for living on campus, I was really surprised about the huge amount of money people pay for travelling. I would have preferred to be better informed about this in advance.

Apart from this, I was able to make a fairly accurate financial plan, which included quite a lot of personal savings. But since I knew I was going to London for months in advance, I was able to save this amount.

study/placement abroad period

study programme/work plan (concerning content and organisational issues)

I have studied Linguistics at UCL. They had a good overview of available courses on their website, which made choosing courses easy. However, one of the courses I chose was taught in the other semester that year, but they gave me a list of other courses to choose from. So the organisation was rather good while I was there. And there were many

courses to choose from, so the content was good as well. academic quality of education/placement activities

Not all courses had the same academic quality. Most courses had lectures as well as tutorials, which gave us the opportunity to be taught new material during the lectures and putting that into practise during the tutorials. One course, however, consisted of merely lectures and the affiliate students had to write a final essay instead of taking an exam. So, at the end, I didn't get the feeling I learned much from those classes. I'm not sure whether the different teaching method is caused by the teacher, or the fact that that course was an intermediate one and the others introductory ones, but I wasn't very enthousiastic about that one course. The other classes, on the other hand, were enjoyable and well structured

counselling/support at host institution/organisation

The administative staff of the Linguistics department at UCL was very helpful. They always knew where to go with your (Erasmus) questions and they got back to you real quick. So did most of the teachers. Apart from that, all first years and affiliate students were divided into small tutorial groups which met every week. All the affiliates were put in one group and were mentored by an older student who had studied abroad herself, so that was very useful for if we had questions and she knew what all of us were going through. Those meetings were lovely and she explained us all kinds of stuff about the UCL, but also about living in London etc. I really loved the mentor meetings and they made me feel not alone.

transfer of credits

Since the grading of my last essay was due on the 20th of February, I haven't received

my transcript of records yet, so I can't really say anything about this at the moment. student life

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welcome/orientation programme

There was an elaborate orientation programme where every new student had their own schedule to sign in, get a tour around campus and attend lectures about studying at UCL and living in London. So that was very well organised. Apart from that, there were two days where you could visit stalls of all the societies the UCL has and to get the

opportunity to sign in for them. So the welcome/orientation programme was very elaborate and well organised.

accommodation

Unfortunately, there were too many applications for student housing this year (which is only for first years and affiliate students), so people who were studying at UCL for the whole year were given priority. I therefore didn't get assigned student accomodation and had to find something on my own. I believe there were some agencies you could go to to help you, but unfortunately, I can't tell you anything about them because I found

something on my own. I found a website where christian people with an extra room were looking for christian people to let it to. That's how I ended up living with a family in London.

leisure/culture

Personally, I didn't do too many leisury/cultural things. But not because there were no options: we got many emails of trips towards cultural hotspots like Stonehenge and Bath. But I just wanted to focus on London itself, so I did a lot of my exploring on my own or with a friend. Many museums and galaries for example are for free in London, so I've done that a couple of times. And there is quite some sightseeing to do in London as well. So you don't ever have to get bored.

suggestions/tips

There are many societies at UCL: there is something for everyone. So if you want to do something besides studying, I suggest you join one of them. Especially if you're there for the whole year.

conclusions

would you recommend this host organisation/destination to others? please explain Yes. The whole university is well organised and they get many affliliate students, so they know well how to handle that. Apart from that, London is an amazing city.

do you have any additional advice or comments?

If affiliate students are going to study at UCL for only one semester, start looking for other accomodation before you hear if you are assigned student housing. There is a rather big chance that you will not get it and that only leaves you one month to find something on your own, which can be rather stressful.

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2012-2013 Report 1 preparation

exchange/placement application process

The application process was pretty straightforward in my case. I attended one of the information events at University Utrecht where the formal process was explained. After this I used the list of possible host universities to look for an appropriate match. Knowing I wanted to go to an English speaking country narrowed this search down from the offset that made it easier to compare universities' programs. Most UK universities have

information on their websites concerning exchange programs and often a special directory for Erasmus applicants. On the basis of this information, compatibility with my previous courses and location I tried to make a top three of possible universities. London was my favourite from the offset and I continued my preparation with the intention of attending classes at UCL. I wanted to go on exchange for philosophical courses as stated to be possible in the host university sheet. This turned out to be outdated information but I could go on exchange for Linguistics in stead. On the UCL website I found that it was preferable to write a application letter of two pages and provide both a print out of previous grades as well as three letters of recommendation. I gathered all of this even though it was technically not all required for Erasmus exchange just to be thorough. I noticed that it is very important to keep track of all documents and scan everything before sending it since documents occasionally disappear while being sent in the mail for

instance. Another important thing I came across is being very careful when filling out dates on application forms, especially concerning money, since this can cost months of grant providence or getting in trouble for having different dates on different forms. counselling/support at home university

The support in Utrecht University from the international office was minimal. Granted, this low active support is meant to filter out less motivated and less selfreliant students, yet it can be quite stressful and the amount of forms is daunting. This is another reason why it is important to keep track of documents and dates/deadlines yourself and not trust the institutions to much. I received support and letters of recommendation from current and previous tutors in the form of advice on choosing possible host universities.

academic preparation

In my preparation to go abroad I did not make any specific academic preparations. The simple fact that one does not know for sure which courses one will be able to take makes this a very difficult thing to do. In addition I was confident in my abilities concerning the courses I wished to follow and therefore did not consider this necessary.

language preparation

Since I planned to go to an English speaking country I have not made any preparations concerning language proficiency. Whilst in London I never encountered any problems with my ability to express myself either academically or in social context. Though it must be said that I did need a native speaker to go over my essays to take out typical mistakes and typos such as the correct use of 'to' and 'too'.

finances

It is more expensive in London than anyone can imagine. The fact that rent is paid per week, say 125 pounds a week, means that living expenses are very steep and I was lucky enough to get housing through UCL. In addition, everything in the supermarket is more expensive than it would be in the Netherlands. This made me misjudge my financial situation in the beginning. I was lucky to have some personal savings but I burned

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through those in the first half of my exchange. Having family support, DUO grant and loans and an Erasmus grant allowed me to really live it up in London but this does mean that I will have to work quite a while during the summer after exchange to redeem my expenses.

study/placement abroad period

study programme/work plan (concerning content and organisational issues)

Enrolling for courses is a hassle in the first weeks. Upon arrival there is an information event where everything is explained to the best degree possible yet it still feels very complicated. Students are supposed to enroll for classes themselves online, which resembles the Dutch system, yet the different departments/faculties have their own way of providing information and restrictions on application. Another possible problem is the fact that local students know what they want to study or already have been given the opportunity to enrol for courses. This is not a strange way of dealing with enrollments perse, but it can result in courses to be filled up before exchange students have had the chance to realise for which courses they would like to enrol.

The courses differ in difficulty a lot and depend on different amounts of previously acquired knowledge regardless of the indicated level. I took a level 1 course in linguistics that presumed a lot of knowledge on the subject, it was only a first year course but the linguistics students already had an introductory course the semester before. That knowledge was presumed available to all participants.

academic quality of education/placement activities

The quality of education at UCL is good be it some of the methods are different from UU. The application process for courses requires visits to different departments, something that is done online at UU. The fact that it is possible to participate in courses from different departments is very pleasant but it requires a little figuring out to get it al sorted. In addition, the education is based on much less contact hours than one gets used to at UU. For each course in Linguistics I got one, one hour, lecture and a one hour seminar a week. This is equivalent to what is called 'hoorcollege' and 'werkcollege' at UU. The political science classes I participated in did the same resulting in a total of only 8 contact hours a week for a whole semester of four courses. This means 10 weeks of lectures for 4 courses and extended time for examinations due to the fact that this was a second semester exchange. It is important to note that in these 8 hours a week a similar amount of information is discussed in any Dutch 7.5 ECTS class. This causes the teachers to really stuff their lectures with good information and asks for a high intensity of participation. During the seminars it is highly expected that one has done the reading. People sit in these

classes without preparation on occasion but this means they have to be quiet or try to participate without leading on to the fact that they did not prepare, otherwise you will be told to leave. Aditionally the system works with a three strikes rule, three absences means no grade will be given. So even though there are only a few contact hours the level of education is more intense and a high level of self-studying is the expected norm. On a different note the grading system is very different. It is differentiated a lot more than is done at UU. To get a minimal pass mark equivalent to a 5.5 is relatively easy, yet it is hard to succeed to a 'first mark’, which can be translated to an 8, 9 or 10 at UU. This is caused by percentile calculation and I experienced that there is quite a lot of difference in grading depending on the strickness of the marker, usually the teacher.

In general the level of education is comparable to UU but it differs greatly between departments and sometimes-even courses of the same level.

counselling/support at host institution/organisation

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to get started is given. A less positive remark is the seemingly chaotic organisation in the first and second week. There is so much to be done in these weeks both educational as private (such as opening a bank account and getting a phone plan sorted out) that it can be overwhelming at times. Depending on the department one applies for one will get a tutor assigned to them who can be approached for possible questions. I personally had some difficulty applying for courses in political science since my main department was linguistics. My tutor, who happened to be Dutch, very aptly dealt this with. This is one way in which troubles are dealt with in a proper manner so my experience with the given support are quite positive. Most teachers are very supportive, every teacher I have had made very clear it was always possible to drop a line and get in touch with them. E-mails are often replied the same or next day depending on the teacher and size of the course. transfer of credits

UCL uses ECTS for crediting so I expect this to transfer straightforward. As I said earlier there is a different grading scheme used but there are pretty clear calculative scheme's availeble online to calculate the Dutch equivalent of an English grade.

student life

welcome/orientation programme

The welcome event that was hosted by UCL was sufficiently informative to be able to work out what to do for enrolment etc. In addition there were some leisure activities involved that were very entertaining. It must be said that this is not an ideal combination though. In the first week or two, one must enrol for courses but the courses have already started. This means you have to attend the lectures of courses you are not yet sure of taking and if you wait to long the coursework can pile up fairly quickly, something especially daunting when waking up after another welcome party every lecture. Being a fundamental dilemma of student life this should not cause to many problems but it does call for attention. The programme relies on self-sufficient students so it is important to keep that in mind. If you apply to enrol for a course to late it might very well be filled up and you might have to choose a course you have missed 2 out of 10 lectures already and haven't done any reading for. So make sure to pay heed to the advice given in the first informational seminar so such things need not happen to you.

accommodation

Overpriced is the first thing that comes to mind. I was lucky enough to be placed in University Halls and did not have to look for housing myself. The most important to keep in mind is that the rent in London is calculated per week and can easily approach an average of Dutch monthly payed rent fee per week. Location wise my Halls where centrally located and quite close to campus, which was very pleasant. During my stay there have been only a few unpleasantries such as warm water being cut-off and fire alarms going off every now and then, but it was generally fine. One disappointment was the fact that I presumed a Hall like Langton Close, where I was placed, which houses over 200 students would be more sociable, yet most residents tend to keep to

themselves and it very much depends with whom one is placed in a flat. Another important thing to remember is the fact that rent for Halls is paid twice in a term, this means having a large sum of money ready at hand. Not something to forget.

leisure/culture

It's London; there is just so much to do. During the first week the student union organises some social events for internationals but soon after the regular nights for students at bars will become clear. In addition to a big pub and club scene with plenty of young people there are the many markets, museums and other cultural events such as live performances. Not everything is affordable on a student budget but through things like cheap ticket stalls, student offerings and groupon’s me and my friends here have

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seen many things for less. The many parks and interesting neighbourhoods allow for enough entertainment to last a long time. One thing to remember is that London is so big and interesting that it takes actual effort to be able to enjoy as much as possible, this can be a bit of an assignment when combined with actual studying. Luckily, at least in the second term, there are many free weeks and a lecture free month for exam preparation that allow for some exploration.

suggestions/tips

If you are going to London, take effort to stay longer, attaching a vacation or such a solution. In addition make an extra effort to get acquainted with non-international UCL students, this can be a bit hard but repays greatly during your stay. Also it is very advisable to have finished academic work at home before departure. I had to finish two courses at UU whilst taking the four for my exchange and even flew back to take an exam in the Netherlands. This did not improve my academic position at all. Another solution may be taking classes with papers instead of exams, preferably without group assignments since working via Skype is far from ideal.

Remember to get your Erasmus forms signed on time.

Get good information about phone plans and try to get a UK phone number as soon as possible.

Get a student Oyster Card as soon as possible.

Go to Tesco's, and Sainsbury's for groceries if possible, these are usually the least expensive.

Keep track of the UCLU offers; they have some great events and trips available throughout the year.

Do not take your credit card out in a bar, might seem like a good idea at the time, hardly ever is.

Read up on NHS before taking on additional health insurance in The Netherlands, many things are free of charge in the UK.

conclusions

would you recommend this host organisation/destination to others? please explain I would most definitely recommend UCL to others, due to the fact that it is a very good university that is aimed at international students throughout. In addition the system used allows for enough free time to actually get enough time off for the cultural experience of an exchange whilst providing good education. The fact that it is a very international university allows for you to meet people from so many different backgrounds that it really elevates the foreign experience

do you have any additional advice or comments?

Do not forget about your study work even though London is so interesting, this saves a lot of headache in the end.

Report 2 preparation

exchange/placement application process

After applying at UU, I had to sumbit the 'application for admission as an erasmus student' form at UCL. I had to attach a separate sheet with a personal statement describing my academic interests and reasons for applying to UCL and a copy of the test certicate of the most recent English language test I had taken. In April, I was made an offer of admission to study at UCL, which I accepted.

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counselling/support at home university

I was supported by the International Office of Geesteswetenschappen. This support was great. I also attended the lecture on studying abroad, that was open to all students who went abroad during the fall semester of 2012-2013.

academic preparation

Because I applied for an internship at the Dutch Department of UCL, I followed the course 'Dutch as second language' in the second year of my study in preparation of this

internship.

language preparation

I took a language class at the James Boswell Institute to improve my speaking skills of the English language. This helped to increase my confidence in speaking.

finances

London is a very expensive city. For me, the biggest expense was the accommodation. Food (especially meat and vegetables) are not cheap either.

study/placement abroad period

study programme/work plan (concerning content and organisational issues)

Before I went to UCL, I submitted my courses on the 'application for admission as an erasmus student' form. I would strongly recommend new students to pre-register for ELCS courses (which are courses of the School of European Languages, Culture and Society), because places on ELCS courses are limited. During ISOP (see

'welcome/orientation programme') I had the opportunity to confirm my choices. After that, I had to upload my course choices on Portico, the UCL Student Information System. academic quality of education/placement activities

During my stay at UCL, I followed courses at the Dutch Department and a course at SELCS (the School of European Language, Culture and Society). The courses were very interesting and the teachers very educated. I learned a lot! Writing in English was a challenge, but SELCS organises a writing lab, which is a free service for students within SELCS that runs workshops and offers one-to-one support for academic writing. I would recommend new students to come prepared, to bring information about their writing assignment to show the tutor.

counselling/support at host institution/organisation

The support at UCL was great. The orientation programme for international students (see 'welcome/orientation programme') was a great help for new students, to get to know the university and the city. Furthermore, my department send e-mails to remind students of deadlines and to draw their attention to important information concerning essay

information and regulations. There were also student mentors, who showed us around the university and the city.

transfer of credits

Not transferred yet, so no comment. student life

welcome/orientation programme

UCL organised an International Student Orientation Programma (19 - 21 september 2012) which I attended. The attendance was free, but places were limited and allocated on a 'first come, first served' basis. Brief description of the events: enrolment on the programme of study, seminars (understanding and adjusting to the process of teaching

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at UCL, demonstration of module selection, keeping healthy, living in London, finance and banking) and possibility to discuss course choices with the Affiliate Student Tutor.

I can recommend ISOP to everyone! It's a great way to meet other (international) students and to learn more about UCL and London.

accommodation

I completed the housing application form on the UCL Student Residences website in May, 2012. In the beginning of August 2012, I received an email, in which I was told that I was offered a room at one of the UCL Student Residences. I was quite pleased with my own student house, because it was only a few minutes walk to UCL. I had a single room and shared my flat (kitchen/dining area/bathroom and toilet) with four other international students, which was great, because we all had the 'Erasmus-experience'. The only

disadvantage of my UCL student residence was that students were not always warned in advance that staff (for example plumbers) would enter your room (even early in the morning).

leisure/culture

London is a very touristic city. There are lots of museums, parks and attractions, which is great. You'll never get bored in this city. The Underground gets you from A to B in the shortests amount of time, but a ride by bus is less expensive.

At UCL, students can join all kinds of societies (for example: the Cricket Club, the Baking Society, Women Rugby and the Art Society). I joined the Dutch and Flemish Society, and this was really great, because this way I could meet all kinds of students at my

department (the Dutch Department). suggestions/tips

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conclusions

would you recommend this host organisation/destination to others? please explain Yes! The host university (UCL) is not only beautiful, but the teachers are very educated and the lessons interesting. London is a very diverse city, in which you'll never get bored. I can recommend this university and destination to everyone! It was a wonderful

experience and if I could go back, I would do it all over again. do you have any additional advice or comments?

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