Probably every other week, people ask me how University in England is like and what I am doing in my course.
Therefore, I'm going to explain it in detail now, so I can send people with that question to my blog. Makes it easier, doesn't it.

The application process is much easier and less strict than for example in Germany. The deadline for submission is normally in the beginning of the year, January 15th for this year. Some courses differ a little bit, because they go through a more detailed process, for example art or medical studies.
Crazy me, I applied at the end of May. That worked because Universities accept later applications until June if places are not filled already.

Everything is circulated through UCAS,
Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.
This is an online service, where you register and pay about 20 £, so you can send in five applications. Most Universities prefer this service, but some would also accept hard copies per mail.
You type in all your details and upload your files of your records and recommendations.
This is what's needed:
  • Personal details
  • Additional information (UK applicants only)
  • Choices - what and where to apply
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Personal statement - reason for choosing your course
  • Reference - from a person you worked with/for (teacher)
  • Pay and send

After that it took only two or three weeks for me to get an acceptance through their online system. You don't have to answer the acceptance before all Universities replied back, only then you get a deadline. In case you have to meet requirements (certain results in school which didn't come out yet), then you can choose two options to accept, one definitely if possible and one maybe if the other failed.

In less than a month, I applied, received acceptances and signed in at my University, after carefully choosing the best suitable one, looking at place, environment, surveys, course descriptions, access, profiles and recommendations. So I went to DMU, DeMontfort University, based in the centre of Leicester, a middle-sized rural town in the East Midlands. As you can guess, the absolute middle of England, surrounded by Nottingham, Derby and Loughborough, also close to Birmingham.

Of course, studying in England is not cheap. It costs 3225 £ per year and an extra 3-4 thousand pounds for living in University halls, but energy costs included. This is the same for all EU students, also British ones. The government provides a scheme, where they give everybody a loan with a fair interest fee. Students pay it back once they earn more than 15000£ per year. Once you earn more than that, you repay 9% of what you earn above that threshold. Should you lose you job, you will not have to pay anything until you earn enough again. This makes it quite safe, although there is of course the fact that you might spend years to pay it back.

My course is called Creative Writing and Film Studies.

In Creative Writing, we have two modules per year, which means there is one lecture (1 h) and one workshop (2 h) each per week.
This year, we are exploring all kinds of writing in one module, including poetry, genres, fiction, short stories and various things you have to think about as a serious writer. We do not analyse writing so much as in English Literature; moreover, we have to write, edit and think about different ways to approach our writing.
The other module, called Writing Identity, is all about our selves, characters and experiences of other writers. With defining object backgrounds, looking at our own past and write creatively about them or reading a piece of writing as a writer, we use our experience to develop our own voice and get valuable new skills. For example, a writer focuses on showing, not telling, which means that adjectives are generally bad. Who would have thought about that, but experiments proved that our writing got much better.

Film Studies is a wonderful combination to writing, because all the analysis of films and background knowledge about the fairly new medium can be used for my writing skills. Building believable characters and finding an original narrative are crucial for good films.
The set up is basically the same. Two modules, one lecture per module which is only longer because we watch a film or sometimes shorter clips. Then there is a one hour seminar, where we talk about the films or discuss the current curricular in detail.
One module is designed to teach us about analysing films, as I said earlier. We learned about the structure, the techniques such as cinematography and editing, and the economy of the business with production, distribution and exhibition. Now we are going deeper into the meaning of films. We looked at realism last week, for example.
In Film History on the contrary, it is all about facts. How was cinema invented, where does sound come from, what is a blockbuster, what happened in World War II or which distinct cinemas are there in the world (French, German, English, Iranian, African...). This term, the focus is on America and the studio system in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. We turned away from Europe now and for the most part, from now on, the concentration will be on Hollywood and its influences such as German Expressionism.

Living at University in Leicester

It is nice to live in halls. I share a flat with 8 people, two in a wheelchair. It looks like I was really lucky with my flat mates. We share toilets and showers and the kitchen. Fortunately, the bathrooms and the hallway are cleaned weekly. We only have to take care of the kitchen and our rooms. The building is more or less sealed up, no one comes in without a key (in some halls, you can't even get out without one). Rooms are small, but they have everything you need, even a sink. Security is of major importance here, windows can only be opened about 15 inches and fire alarms go off every Monday at 9am for 10 seconds and every once in a while by accident. (It sucks to have to get up at 3am to wait outside in the cold for ten minutes, until everything is sorted out. Don't think you could wait inside; the noise is more than horrible. I believe your ears might burst if you hear it for too long.)

University has lots of things to offer. Sports and Societies for a small fee (mostly 1 pound/ session). There are things like rowing, climbing, politics, rugby, media (radio, newspaper, TV), film, and any more. To boost you CV, there are also many extra services available, where you can help people and get involved in the community.

Students in first year tend to see University as a playground. The grades you get do not count for your final degree. You only need to pass to get into your second year, from which on all grades build up your degree. This means, they party through most nights, get drunk as often as they can/can afford and go clubbing more than I can make you believe. Sometimes, I don't know when they do their Uni work. I hear from many people that they worked all night and didn't get much/any sleep. This doesn't work that well for me.

This is just a short summary of my experience. In the future, I will most probably go more into detail. Maybe you can tell me what you think of the system so far?


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