One of the best years of my life

I have not been paid by the Erasmus & Study Abroad Office to say that my year in Reading has been one of the best experiences of my life, to say the least. I have met amazing people, seen beautiful places, learned so many things and I can even say I’ve changed!

I came to Reading with much enthusiasm at the end of September 2018 to spend the whole academic year. Thanks to a friend from my home university who had come to the University of Reading a few years ago, I joined three adorable English girls of my age to share a house in town. They quickly became much more than housemates, dear friends, who I stay in contact with today. As they were in the Reading University Christian Union, they invited me to events where I met their very nice and welcoming friends.

I also got to make other friends thanks to the Welcome Week organised by the University. As so, I met with a group of people from various backgrounds and nationalities at a board games and pizza night. We kept meeting for the whole year, playing many games and sharing plenty of food and fun. I have to say if I hadn’t gone to that event I would have probably never met my boyfriend… If I had been told I was about to meet so many incredible people AND to find love in Reading, I don’t know if I would have believed it!

Regarding studies – because that was supposed to be the main point of the trip –, I was in Henley Business School for my final year in management. The teaching team was excellent, I am really thankful I had those lecturers and seminar teachers because they played a crucial role in my understanding of the modules. Moreover, the few contact hours allowed me enough time to study well at home.

In addition to the quality of the teaching, the University of Reading offers a huge and beautiful campus, including my favourite place: the Harris Garden! I really appreciated having this small peaceful park to walk, admiring the colourful flowers and the playful squirrels.

I also want to add that in the University of Reading there is a staff team that is very welcoming, kind and ready to help, as well as available and efficient. I especially include the Erasmus & Study Abroad Office (special thanks to Chris!) and the Students Union that both provided help and advice in different matters, not only concerning university. As we are young students in a different country, it is very appreciable to know that we will always find someone to help. I could write a novel about my year there but this has to be a bit shorter, so I’ll just conclude by recommending going to study at the University of Reading! I don’t think it is possible to have a bad experience there, at least I hope not. I am currently making an album with pictures, items and comments of my year because it has been so amazing!

A year of development

My name is Sandra. My professional passion is human behaviour and inspiring & encouraging people to use all their potential and talents. Hence, I would like to share my experience of being an Erasmus student, to give you a kind push to do it – because trust me, it will change your life in ways you can’t even imagine!

I was an Erasmus student at UoR in 2018/2019, doing my last year of my undergraduate in psychology. I am originally from Denmark, but have ended up staying in England, as I am currently studying an MSc in Organisational Psychiatry and Psychology at King’s College London – and honestly, I have no plans of retuning to Denmark, looking at how many opportunities this year has brought me!

Arriving in Reading I didn’t know a single person, but within the first 2 days of welcome week I had established a network of students from all over the world and all sorts of different faculties – a network that I spend hours and hours with, and that I’m still in contact with today. These people have contributed to so many great memories and learning opportunities, and whenever one of us was struggling, we always helped and supported each other. UoR definitely facilitated this through the great amount of welcome events and societies – it’s just a matter of taking the first step of showing up, then the rest comes naturally. Yet I must admit that due to my passion of dancing and the amount of time I spend dancing, most of my friends outside university was in the dance environment in Reading (and that is absolutely amazing!). So, Reading facilitates friendships both at university and outside university!!!

Academically I had the opportunity the explore more than just psychology, as both my home university and UoR accepted me applying for modules on other faculties, that in different ways supported psychology and the career path I had planned. Hence, I did modules in psychology, law and business – enjoying sharing knowledge between the different faculties with my fellow students and discussing with the great teachers how everything could be interconnected. Though sounding very different, they complement each other very well, and I can see how this diversity of modules has contributed to me in my current MSc. So, don’t be scared to explore new fields and try to create your own education – you might, like me, get a bunch of awesome modules that somehow help you understand each of them better!

Obviously, it’s not just fun and amazing – life has its ups and downs, but when university gets stressful there is amazing support. The UK way of doing university is very different from in Denmark, which affected my studies as I had to do my dissertation at the same time as all exams at UoR. It was very stressful, but I found a lot of good support from the Erasmus office and the friends I made in Reading. And even though it was tough, I still managed to reach my goal of getting into KCL and at the same time learning and realising, that “I got it!” even though it’s hard. I got to know my own strength in a completely new way, and through this I developed a lot.

Concluding, my time at UoR has contributed to so much more than my education. Both socially and personally I’ve benefited so much from the year, and I’m so much more prepared for what life brings now!

The best decision of my life

If you want me to summarise my one academic year life in Reading, I probably will use three words to highlight this unforgettable experience here: challenge-able, self-developed, enjoyable. Coming to the University of Reading for this year is absolutely the best decision in my life.

Firstly, it is challenge-able as I am a student coming from China, where people speak a totally different language and share different culture and traditions. So going to a completely different country and using a different language to study and live for the first time on my own is really a big challenge. But when I came here, all faculty I met here were so kind and nice, that they help me to adapt myself into this new environment so quickly.

When it comes to my second word, my point is that the University of Reading has made me a well-rounded person. During time here, I learned how to cook, how to organise my life in order, and also how to make friends with people coming from different countries. Also, I developed a lot of skills academically as I finished 5 research papers here all on my own and for most of them I got a first class grade.

Finally, life here is really enjoyable. As Your Halls Life and Study Abroad have organised so many activities during my staying here. These activities broadened my horizons, helped me get a deeper understanding in the UK and also allowed me to meet my best friend, Connie! There is never an end for my staying and memories here at the University of Reading. I will cherish all my memories here and definitely will come back one day in the future to thank everything happened here. If you are also a student who considers about an exchange program, Study Abroad Programme at the University of Reading is really a nice choice.

Reading, my one and only

The University of Reading was my fourth university in fours years. After the first year in Prague, studying philosophy of art in the historical centre of Prague in a class of 20 people, I moved to France, to study at the University of Nantes. In the first year, we were 900 students taking the degree in English on the old campus of concrete where we had to fight for our places as only 50% of students got into the second year. For the second year, I transferred to Toulouse, where the level of English was very demanding, and during the second semester the university had been closed due to the university strike for four months. I therefore had plenty of time to prepare for my Erasmus in Reading. I had been looking forward to it more than I could admit, because I knew how easily things could go wrong. But this time, I was more than lucky.

The University of Reading received me with open arms. From the beginning, everything went so smoothly; the administration, the settling down, the accommodation. I instantly fell in love with the beautiful green campus. I felt very cosy in the St George’s Hall, where I had a chance to share the flat with another Spanish Erasmus student, and students from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and the UK. I think this was the first time I actually went through the cultural shock of how people can perceive reality differently. On the other hand, we were all students with shared the devotion to our studies and struggles of everyday university life. We spent some amazing times together cooking, celebrating birthdays, or visiting some of the many restaurants in Reading. After two years in France where I always felt like a foreigner because of my Czech accent, on the University of Reading campus I felt at ease thanks to its international and welcoming ambience.

I was surprised by the low number of contact hours. I was used to 20 to 25 hours per week whereas in England it was only 9 in my case. But I grew to appreciate it, because it allowed me to study the specific topics while spending long hours in my favourite Library@URS building, which does not close apart from Saturday night. As my degree does not exist in England my modules were spread across four departments within second and third year . I found it extraordinary. Some of them were easy, and some of them almost impossible  i.e. a 3rd year politics module when I have no background in political studies. But I think that this is exactly what an experience of living abroad should consist of and I am grateful for it.

I had also a lot of free time and that was my favourite part about my year in Reading. There were so many options! I chose boxing. I actually had the idea to pick up boxing before leaving for Reading, and I found out about the boxing society before my departure. I cannot easily describe how much I enjoyed and appreciated it. Maybe because boxing has this aggressive side, the atmosphere in the gym was very calm, friendly and concentrated. The society made a real effort for girls to feel welcomed in the gym and the president of the society, Vincent,and other members of the society, who trained us, were patient and kind. I believe that my enthusiasm was seen as I was rewarded as one of four most improved boxers.

I also decided to try apply for a job on campus, because I always liked the job of barista and I thought of it as of a great opportunity to meet a lot of different people and gain confidence with my English. Which is why I felt very lucky when I got the job. The process was so easy! I applied through Campus Jobs which was linked with my University account, went for an interview and after four induction sessions I happened to work on a Friday afternoon alone in the Library@URS building cafe. It had a great effect on my sense of belonging. This is the reason why the smell of the freshly blended coffee is definitely one of the strongest memories of my Erasmus year. I was again so lucky with the team of supervisor (thank you Renata and Jason for being so nice and patient with us!) and coworkers.

I chose Reading for its accessibility, as I needed to be able to fly to France and the Czech Republic often. It was magical to go to a concert to London and to come back on the same night to my own bed. I loved the visits to Oxford. But apart from one trip to Edinburgh I did not really travel around and it feels right. Because I felt, after a long time, at home. I believe that the University of Reading is an amazing place to stay and live. The everyday life it has so much to offer. One can leave a party at 2 a.m. in the Students‘ Union and come back at 11 a.m. for a farmers market for fresh vegetables which is literally spread on the dancefloor. You can spend hours in nature, while still being on the campus. Get a first for your hard work. Or become a boxer. And barista. And get to meet so many extraordinary people from all over the world. In the end, and I am so much grateful to my university in Toulouse for sending me to Reading.

Thank you Reading for being my one and only.

Your friends are never far away on campus

I could probably try to explain my time at the University of Reading in words and still not fully be able to explain just how incredible it was. However, I will try my best to give you a taste of what it felt like to study and live on the University’s Whiteknights campus.

I myself lived across the lake that is on the campus, which made me incredibly lucky as the view from my room consisted of trees, grass and water. Extremely calming, something that most definitely came in handy the (more than a) couple of times I got stressed. The whole Whiteknights campus is covered in trees, meadows, flowers and little rivers. This provided for excellent morning walks or for a great excuse on those many days where you really should be studying, but the weather is just too nice.

The best thing about campus life, aside from the great grassy views (can you tell I’m a nature-lover?), is that your friends are never far away. Just a quick text and 5 minutes later you are having a coffee at one of the cafes on campus. The community feel that the campus provides makes sure you never have to feel alone. There is always someone to hang out with between classes or something new to try, e.g. the food stalls or the fruit and veg market on each term time Thursday. As most of my friends stayed on campus for the full day, working together in the Library easily became the norm. With many cups of coffee, studying became incredibly fun, even during exam time.

However, if you feel like you need to get out of the studying drag and into some more fast-paced living, London is only half an hour away by train. I got used to going to London twice a month as a self-proclaimed, well-deserved break from studying. London quickly became a second home and it was great to have the time to explore the lesser known parts of the city.

Reading is situated in an ideal area of England as there are many direct trains to cities up north and down south, and direct links with many of the London airports. It made exploring the entire UK extremely easy and incredibly fun. As most UK student cities have many youth hostels, travelling through the UK was not even that expensive. Even when travelling alone, you would always meet people in a new city with whom you could explore.

Aside from all the great trips I made, the level of education at the University of Reading was high and the professors I had were excellent and extremely kind. Everything was easy to arrange and whenever a problem did arise, everyone you talked to was approachable, kind and helpful. I had an incredible year at the University of Reading and I could not recommend my study abroad experience at Reading enough (and will probably not stop talking about it for a while either). I am already missing my time here on campus.