London, United Kingdom – The University of Westminster (by Frederike)

Hello again!

More than half of my semester abroad  in London is already over, just one month left. Time is running so fast, but isn’t that a good sign? I’ve got so many great experiences which I want to share with you. In this blog I will focus on some information about university stuff and on some tips, how to spend your free time and weekends. London is such a nice and stunning city where you can explore so many different new things.

University stuff:

Studying is quite different compared to Germany. At the University of Westminster I’m taking three different courses. Each course consists of a lecture, a seminar and a workshop. At the lecture we learn some general stuff about the topic in a large group of students, mostly round about 100 people are in the lecture theatre. In comparison, in the seminars and workshops we work in small groups on case studies and some other exercises. It is a great thing that exchange students are in the same class as the British students doing their bachelor’s degree. So you easily get in contact with them in groupworks, to learn something about the British culture or get some insider tips for good pubs. The English are a little reserved towards foreign students, but friendly, open-minded and have a lot of the typical British humour…

Besides the lectures, the workload is quite high. So be aware you must do homework and some reading till the following week, independent self-studying time is very important to be able to follow the lectures. Unlike Macromedia, there are not only final exams or submission dates at the end of the semester, there are also assignments due during the semester as well. You know all the deadlines at the begin of the semester, so you can split the work a bit. The grade of each course is based on two to three different assignments like essays or in-class presentations. On one hand, that gives you the chance to make up for a bad grade, but then again the workload is much higher and you are a little bit stressed through the whole semester. Most lecturers treat you as a regular student and not as an exchange student, but they are always ready to help and support you with any queries. Foreign students do not take part in the regular final exams. Instead, we will take alternative assignments in each course (mostly essays) that can be uploaded online in January. This means that after the last lecture (mid-December) we can head for home without having to come back to seat for exams in January!

So enough of university stuff!

Getting to know London and the UK. Besides studying, you have plenty of time to explore the UK. The University of Westminster organizes a great social program for exchange students and offers some trips, for example to the Harry Potter Studios or the Stonehenge. I really recommend taking part on these trips, because they are not only cheaper than the regular entry prices, but you also get to meet new people and get around the country. I’ve already taken part on a trip to Edinburgh and to Stonehenge.

Scotland is such a beautiful and lovely place! We spent 3 days there and had some time to discover Edinburgh. In addition to that we had the possibility to do a daytrip to the Highlands and also travelled to the legendary Loch Ness. Unfortunately, we didn’t see the monster Nessie, but we spent a great day there and enjoyed the mythical feeling.

Furthermore, the university offers so many other social activities. For example, there are regularly movie nights at the campus, student parties and pub crawls are organized or you can play paintball with your friends.  You also have the possibility to join some sport clubs, like basketball, rowing or dancing, or you can visit the university gym. It will never be boring here!

There is so much to discover in the city. Besides plenty of tourist attractions, there are even more places and events to visit. I really recommend the following:

  • Stroll around Notting Hill, look at the beautiful colourful houses and visit the Portobello Road Market
  • Taste some food at the Borough or Camden Market
  • Climb up the Primrose Hill to enjoy an incredible view over the city
  • Join the „Christmas light switch on“ event in Regent Street
  • Visit the Harry Potter Bar “The Cauldron” to mix some special cocktails in a kettle and feel like Harry
  • Attend a musical (Wicked, for example, offers great deals for students, you can buy front tickets for round about 30 Pounds)
  • Visit one of the plenty free museums (Natural History Museum, British Museum, Imperial War Museum,…)
Hogwarts in the snow
Brighton Palace Pier

Furthermore, you can reach a lot of destinations quickly from London. I made day trips to Brighton and Windsor. You can also get to Dublin quickly and cheap by plane or take the train to Paris. Everything is possible here.

The Christmas season has started!!! Every street is decorated with lots of beautiful lights, Christmas markets are opened, where you can buy your first mulled wine for that year and  there are different ice drinks distributed in the whole town. For example, you can ice-skate with a nice view in front of the Tower of London or the Natural History Museum. I’m also looking forward to the opening of the Winterwonderland in Hyde Park, a mixture of Christmas market and amusement park.

I’m now enjoying the last few weeks in this great town. Greetings from London!

Frederike