It was clear to me at the beginning of my Masters that I would like to spend my semester abroad in Great Britain. I am fascinated by the English culture and I just like the British accent so much.
Unfortunately, the Koblenz University of Applied Sciences does not offer an exchange with its partner university in Scotland for master’s students. So it was clear to me that I would go abroad as a free mover. That sounds like a lot of work at first, but it isn’t. But more on that in a moment. As a free mover I was not tied to a specific university or city, London was at the top of my list for me. I’ve always wanted to live in a big city and it’s such an international and multicultural city like London, of course, perfect. But can you even afford a life in London as a student? Yes! Of course, the individual expenses depend very much on the personal lifestyle, but at least the housing costs were affordable thanks to the university dormitory.
As already mentioned, you shouldn’t be put off by going abroad as a free mover. With the support of MicroEDU, the application was super uncomplicated and I received the acceptance from London South Bank University after about two weeks. MicroEDU takes care of the contact with the university abroad and helps to put together the application documents. In the end, nothing really changes for you compared to an application at a partner university.
The biggest disadvantage of a semester abroad as a free mover is the cost, because you have to pay the tuition fees yourself. At London South Bank University this is £ 4,410 for a semester in the Bachelor and £ 3,100 for a semester in the Master (as of winter semester 2019/20). But there are also solutions for this. From BAföG tuition fees, for example, up to a height of 4,600 € over.
Fortunately, as Great Britain was still part of the EU during my semester abroad, I did not have to worry about a visa and only had to take care of the application in the dormitory after the acceptance, which was very uncomplicated.
London South Bank University
Over 17,500 students from more than 130 nations study at LSBU. As the name suggests, the university is located in the South Bank district and is therefore incredibly central. At the beginning of the semester there was an introductory event for all international students in which all important information was conveyed. There was also a small BBQ for the exchange students. But I have to say that the range of activities especially for exchange students was very limited or not available. Apart from the events mentioned, nothing else was offered by the university to get to know other international students while at university. Of course you get to know enough people that way, but university events often make it easier to get into conversation with others.
It went haywire with the choice of course. I think that was when I met most of my friends. We were quite a few exchange students in our Masters (mostly from Germany, all of them as free movers) and you actually chose the courses by email before you left Germany. But there was from the course catalog is not clear which courses are offered in which semester and also the number of credits was not always very clear, I had almost all my courses I had previously given change again. And it wasn’t just me. In the end, however, I was super satisfied with my courses and the experience welded together.
At the Koblenz University of Applied Sciences I’m studying for a Master’s in Business Management with a focus on marketing and international business. I took three courses at London South Bank University, each with 20 credits (= 10 ECTS) and thus acquired a total of 30 ECTS. I have occupied:
Integrated Marketing Communication
This course was a lot about the basics of marketing, but as the title suggests, it was also about the interaction of the individual advertising measures with one another. Although I have already taken a few marketing courses during my studies, I was able to take some new knowledge with me, especially through the different cultural perspective. The examination performance consisted of two term papers and a group presentation. This subject was definitely the most work, but it was also the most fun. I finished with 74% (equivalent to 1.3).
Risk, Change and Crisis Management
This lecture dealt primarily with risk assessment in project management. I particularly liked that the lecture was very practical and that we had to repeatedly carry out a risk assessment on fictitious projects. As an exam, we had to write a term paper in which we were supposed to analyze and implement a real risk scenario from the perspective of a risk manager. I completed this course with 60% (equivalent to a 2.3).
International Finance and Decision Making
Since I hadn’t had a finance lecture before, I initially had doubts whether I would really come here. Even though it was a master’s lecture, it still started with the basics and I had no problems following it. Also that I am a well in this subject was very pleasant housework wrote and looking at the bills along with fellow students could work out. I graduated with 80% (converted a 1.0).
In my opinion, at LSBU it was easier to get good to very good grades with less effort. Except for the Finance course, in which we were around 40 students, we were only six to eight people. This immediately created a very intimate atmosphere and was always required to actively participate in the class. Each course consisted of two hours of lectures and two hours of seminars, which are very interactive. Case studies that you have to prepare as homework are often dealt with in the seminar. However, the effort is very limited here.
All the courses at the LSBU in all, I really liked and despite a rocky start organizing the university I really enjoyed my time there.
One of the reasons I chose London South Bank University was to guarantee a place in the dormitory as an international student. If you don’t live in a dormitory, it is next to impossible to find affordable accommodation in a good location in London. My dorm room cost around € 650 a month. Definitely a steep price, but more than adequate for the London location. Because the situation couldn’t be better. The residence is 15 minutes (on foot) south of the Thames. So I was able to take a relaxing walk to the London Eye. Four different underground stations can be reached in five to ten minutes and countless bus routes stop right in front of the door. Another big plus is the proximity to the university. It took me almost less than five minutes from my room to the lecture. That makes a big difference, especially in the morning.
There are four university residences in total. I lived in the McLaren House. More than 600 students live here in eight apartment blocks. All international students are accommodated in one block (Block H). Each apartment in the H block consists of eight rooms, each with its own bathroom and a large kitchen. I have been with seven other girls. Six of them were from Germany and one girl from Greece. The international mix left something to be desired in our apartment. But you also quickly get to know the residents of the other apartments. Since we all have our own bathroom, there have never been any problems. There were two fridges and two stoves in the kitchen, which is really practical with so many people.
The only negative point of the dormitory is the strict control at the entrance. Outside guests are only allowed to stay until 11 p.m. and overnight guests are allowed to stay a maximum of three nights.
Life in london
Is It Really That Expensive?
That was probably the most common question during my semester and now afterwards. London is known as one of the most expensive cities in the world and yes, you can definitely spend a lot of money there. If that’s what you want. If you are not only traveling as a tourist in a city, but also live there, you will find more and more inexpensive alternatives over time. For example, I always went shopping at Lidl. I had to take a 10 minute bus ride for this, but the prices were much cheaper there than at Tesco or Sainsbury, which are just around the corner. In my opinion, groceries are as expensive as in Germany. The exchange rate made it a little more expensive. The classic pint in the pub is definitely expensive. You usually pay between € 6 and € 8 for this. But here, too, over time we have found student pubs where the prices are very student-friendly (eg “The Dover Castle”).
In general, it just depends a lot on how you want to organize your everyday life. We often cooked together in the dormitory and went out to eat or breakfast maybe once or twice a week. Many of the museums in London (which are highly recommended and absolutely not boring) are free. And in Packham there is a cinema (The Packhamplex) where each film costs only £ 5 at any one time. As I said, over time you will find many cheap alternatives. The tube is definitely not cheap. The central location of the dormitory offers another advantage here. I could walk to university and I could often explore London on foot or by bus.
There is a student ticket, but it costs £ 94 (~ 112 €) a month for zones 1-3. Since I didn’t use public transport every day, it was absolutely not worth it. I spent around € 70-90 per month on transport.
Having seen most of the major English cities before my semester abroad, I spent most of the time in London trying to see as much of the city as possible. Because there is so much to discover in London and so many different parts of the city that even after almost five months I couldn’t see it all. During the semester I went to Brighton twice, a super cute seaside town just an hour away by train. A trip to Brighton is definitely a must. Also, Oxford is just over an hour away. Harry Potter fans get their money’s worth here. In some buildings of the famous Oxford University scenes were filmed for Harry Potter that can be viewed there. In any case, many cities can be easily reached from London by train.
Since I only had lectures from Tuesday to Thursday, I also went to Scotland with a friend for almost a week. Here, too, we took the train from London to Edinburgh and rented a car there. I was very enthusiastic about nature and the wonderful landscapes. After so much in the big city, a few days in nature felt really good.
The rugby team
I can only recommend everyone to join a sports team or society. It’s so easy to come into contact with the English and get to know the culture again from a completely different perspective. According to Jibin123, at the beginning of the semester, you could have a look at all of the university’s sports clubs and take part in a trial lesson for the first two weeks. I looked at rugby, hockey, muay thai and cheerleading and ultimately joined the women rugby team. Before the semester, I never thought that I would play rugby in my life and that it would be so much fun too. Rugby is definitely not without it and it took me a while to get used to the many rules. One or two scratches and many bruises were available as souvenirs. We trained once a week and had four games against other universities. After the games there was a lot of celebration.
Doesn’t it rain all the time in England?
No! From my time in London I can say that it didn’t rain more than in Germany. However, the weather is very unpredictable. The sun can shine in the morning, 10 minutes later it is pouring rain and then the sun is shining again. But as long as you always leave the house with an umbrella in your pocket, you are well equipped. So the prejudice of bad weather shouldn’t deter you from spending a semester in England.
The five months have just flown by and at the same time it feels like I’ve been away a lot longer. I fell head over heels in love with London and saying goodbye was not easy for me. That’s why I’m very happy that London is practically around the corner and I will definitely spend one or two weekends there.
It was very exciting to get to know a different type of teaching system and I can highly recommend London South Bank University. In my opinion, the secure and affordable space in the dormitory is a great advantage. I also thought it was great to be in London in the winter semester, as Christmas time in London is really something very special.