WTF: Why to Finland?

By Thilo Thelitz

You’ve seen Finland on the list of exchange spots and you’re wondering what it offers to you as an English student? Here’s the perspective of someone who spent a year there (spoiler: it was awesome)!

The spot I ended up choosing was Tampere, because their university allows a two- semester stay as opposed to the one semester in Helsinki. The longer I’d stay, the better I could learn Finnish, or so I thought at the time. More on my mild success with the language later.

Tampere is one of the biggest cities in Finland, and some have told me that it’s probably the “most Finnish,” since the next-biggest contestants have stronger international influences. Turku is very close to Sweden geographically and culturally, and the Helsinki area has both a larger Swedish, Russian, and international influence than Tampere (at least that’s what I’ve been told).

Tall chimneys like the one here in Koskipuisto are a part of Tampere’s landscape.
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Between If and Falls – My Experience as a Teaching Assistant in German London

By Michelle Zanivan

Cows and Deer in London

When I think of London, I no longer hear the bells of Big Ben ringing. 

Richmond is a borough of London south-west of London City. When I told my friends I would be going to Richmond, London, all of them looked at me with a puzzled look – all but one. “That’s where the rich people live”, he had exclaimed and he was not wrong. Richmond, the main city of the borough of Richmond upon Thames, is a wealthy borough. It is not too large, spreads on both sides of the Thames, which is quite extraordinary, and has well-kept meadows, greens, and gardens. During spring and summer time, there would be cows next to the river, I was told. I have not seen them yet. Instead, I have seen plenty of deer which, in my opinion, was far more exciting than seeing cows. The town is also close to Heathrow Airport, both a plus and a minus – planes have never been more visible and audible before. Sometimes, I felt like they were heading right for my window.

 In this British city, I was going to live for the next few months, starting January 6th 2020. As an intern and teaching assistant at the German School London, I was going to learn more about the teaching lifestyle.

The deer in Richmond Park
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Two Months of English Student Life: My Stay Abroad in Plymouth

By Leah Süss

The perpetual calls of seagulls, the pitiless ocean breeze, the sweet-salty harmony of Roly’s salted maple fudge, the majestic tower of whipped cream on Costa’s indulgent hot chocolate, the inconspicuous covered Smeaton tower at the Hoe, the warm smell of Prime’s coffee and eggs, the artful masterpieces on Earlybird’s pancakes, Jake’s cheesy chips melted to perfection in my microwave, crooked pavements on which I stumble, bustling dancefloors that make me lose all sense of time. These memories come to my mind when I think of Plymouth.  

I started my exchange at the University of Plymouth on the 24th of January 2020. The future seemed full of opportunities then. I hadn’t booked a return ticket and my only task was to stay abroad for six months. I had quit my job and my phone contract, and I had found successors for my weekly voluntary tasks. I was ready to leave my life behind for half a year. Never had I been on my own for such a long time. A new area, a new university, a new temporary home. Would I feel at ease? Would I make friends for life? Would I start loving the sea? Would I travel a lot? A delicate sense of a blank-slate future, bursting with possibilities. I heaved my enormous suitcase and my towering backpack into the TGV at Zurich HB, and for the full 12 hours it took me to travel to Plymouth Station, I couldn’t help beaming in joyful anticipation. 

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Welcome Week at Warwick

Stephanie Heeb is studying for an MA in English and French at the University of Zurich. During the Autumn Semester 2019, she is completing a semester abroad at the University of Warwick in Coventry.

I had been warned about Welcome Week (or Fresher’s week, as it’s also known). “You won’t get any sleep.” “It’s like a week-long hangover.” “You’ll definitely get fresher’s flu.” And to be honest, I was rather apprehensive about the experience. I thought Welcome Week would be all about drinking, and while I do enjoy the occasional night out, a week of partying sounded like hell to me. So while I was hopeful I’d make friends, I felt rather doubtful about this first week. There weren’t even going to be any actual classes – was there really much point in being there? 

 It turns out there was – Welcome Week turned out to be such a joyful experience that I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. The best thing I did in preparation was to connect with other students in advance. I had joined a Facebook chat for other incoming study abroad students, which was useful in preparation for the exchange, as we were able to ask each other questions about housing and registration. But it was on the first night especially where I was really glad to know there were some people I could go out and grab a drink with. I was anxious that I would spend the first day sat in my (rather depressing) room alone; but it ended up being a lovely evening, where I got to know a couple of people over a pint in the Student’s Union’s pub.

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An English Student in Paris

Enora Maurer studies English and French at the University of Zurich. Since Septemeber of last year, she has been on an exchange in Paris, studying at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3.

Studying in Paris! Even as an English student it is an exceptional experience. Granted, I am not primarily in Paris to study English, as I am doing my exchange with the French department. However, last semester I was able to take English seminars from the “monde anglophone”, as well, which I really enjoyed. 

Of course, everybody had warned me that the level would be much lower here than in Zurich, as the stereotype that English is not considered a French speciality is deeply anchored in people’s minds (which, I have to say, was mostly contradicted within the “monde anglophone”). Having nevertheless been prepared for anything, I must say that I was positively surprised; or relieved, maybe, as I had expected much worse. For one, the work load for English seminars was much higher than for the French ones, so in that respect it is similar to Zurich. 

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