Mail from … Chester Alexander Hogräfer, student of the Teacher Training Course, reports on his stay abroad in England
This is where I live at the moment:
I have been living in Chester in the UK since the 19th of September. Chester is close to the border with Wales and is not far from Liverpool and Manchester.
This is what I am doing in Chester:
I have been given the opportunity to study at the University of Chester. Here I am taking courses that deal with English literature and linguistics.
My stay will last for:
In total, I will be studying in Chester for one semester. However, unlike in Germany, the semester only lasts three months. Therefore, I will be back in Germany in time for Christmas. I got the opportunity to study here through the Erasmus+ programme.
I am standing here in front of the English Department building, also called the "Vicarage". The former vicarage now offers teaching rooms for students. Photo credit: Alexander Hogräfer/TU Braunschweig
This is the exterior view of the Vicarage building. Photo credit: Alexander Hogräfer/TU Braunschweig
This is what a lecture hall in the Vicarage looks like. Here, thousands of other students before me have asked themselves what William Shakespeare is really trying to tell them with his texts. Picture credits: Alexander Hogräfer/TU Braunschweig
That‘s what I see when I look out of the window of my room. Simply beautiful. Photo credit: Alexander Hogräfer/TU Braunschweig
In the heart of the city, you will inevitably come across the Eastgate Clock. It is said that the clock is the most photographed clock in England, after the Big Ben in London. Picture credits: Alexander Hogräfer/TU Braunschweig
If you follow the historic city walls of Chester, you will arrive at the Chester Race Course. Even though horse racing enjoys a special status here, you should definitely take a critical look at this tradition. Photo credit: Alexander Hogräfer/TU Braunschweig
If you then stroll further along the city wall, you can take a detour to Queens Park Bridge, which leads over the River Dee. Photo credit: Alexander Hogräfer/TU Braunschweig
Besides the Dee, the Shropshire Canal also meanders through Chester. A house like this one right on the canal probably has a similarly beautiful view as one of the villas on the Oker. Photo credit: Alexander Hogräfer/TU Braunschweig
Everywhere in Chester you will find small alleys hiding bars, cafés and restaurants. Especially in autumn, the discoloured leaves also invite you to linger. Photo credit: Alexander Hogräfer/TU Braunschweig
This is why I decided to spend some time abroad:
On the one hand, it is compulsory in my degree programme at TU to complete a stay in an English-speaking country. On the other hand, I find it very exciting to compare life in other countries with life in Germany. Besides, I thought to myself: it will probably never be as easy as it was during my studies to live abroad again in my life.
This is how I live in Chester:
Here in Chester, I share accommodations with four British flatmates. We live in a small house right next to the campus, which is owned by the university. It’s very pleasant to live here because my flatmates are very nice, the kitchen is big and we even have a small backyard.
How is studying in England different from studying in Germany?
I am now in my fourth week of lectures. So far, I have already noticed some differences. Our modules each consist of only one course. This means I only have four courses per week. However, we have to do a lot of preparation and follow-up work, so the workload is the same as at the TU Braunschweig.
In addition, the teachers change within the modules. This means that a module is not necessarily designed by just one teacher and the content can vary significantly.
Particularly typical for my country of residence is:
The left-hand traffic, which presented me with some challenges at first. But after I got into the habit of simply standing still a little longer and making sure that no cars were coming, I was able to cross the road safely.
This is what I learned here in the first three days:
In my first three days, I heard one motto in particular over and over again: “Don’t worry!” As a German, I was naturally quite eager to deal with organisational matters directly. However, I was told again and again not to worry and rather enjoy my time on site. And what can I say, in the end everything was taken care of and I went through the first days much more relaxed.
The biggest challenge so far during my stay:
For me, the biggest challenge was getting used to the online platforms. In the meantime, however, I have found my way around them quite well.
This is what I’m taking home with me from here:
Definitely a jumper from the University of Chester. It’s a stylish way to warm up on cold days in Germany and a fluffy way to reminisce.
Good to Know
You should definitely try these typical dishes:
Definitely baked beans and fish and chips. Baked beans are an important part of a hearty English breakfast and ensure that you are well satiated throughout the day. Fish and chips are ideal as a snack between meals. In addition, you can find small places that sell fish and chips on almost every corner, so you can’t really miss them.
What is the one thing to avoid in England?
Pomposity is not welcome in the UK. When talking to a British person, it’s better to be ‘understated’ and interested in the person you’re talking to, rather than talking about your personal high-horsepower car fleet or the goals you recently scored in the second division.
I would give this tip to other students who want to go abroad:
Go abroad! You have an exciting experience ahead of you that will give you an authentic insight into the cultures of other countries. You’ll also make friends you wouldn’t even meet if you didn’t go abroad. Don’t let bureaucratic hurdles put you off, because it’s worth it.
I took these special precautions in advance because of the Corona virus:
Before I moved, I took out an international health insurance policy that explicitly covers the pandemic case. This is important because not all insurances offer this service and in case of an emergency, you are left with the costs. I also took various quick tests with me so that I could be tested directly on site.
This is how the Corona virus affects my stay:
My stay so far has only been influenced by the Corona virus to a very limited extent. Compared to Germany, there is more freedom here. Masks are no longer compulsory in shops and restaurants. However, like many other people here, I still put on a medical mask before entering a shop. The events are held in hybrid mode, so after one and a half years I was able to attend a meeting in presence again, albeit with a compulsory mask.
This was my favourite way to pass the time despite the pandemic:
As the UK is currently implementing very relaxed rules in dealing with the pandemic, I was fortunately able to do everything that is offered here. This includes participating in a small, university-internal football league and visiting local dance clubs.