It is now my final week in Nottingham so I thought I’d sum up my experience. I hope this will be helpful for all of you thinking that you wanna go to Nottingham.
Before coming to England I was so nervous. As an IB student, I am used to talking in English, but I was afraid it would be so different here, because I am surrounded by natives! Luckily, there were no problems with that. Well, sometimes it was a bit hard to understand the deep, country style British accent, but other than that it was fine. In my class, there were four people who were not native English speakers. Having these other people around made me feel more comfortable. Still, be prepared, it might take you a few days until you feel comfortable enough to voice your opinions during seminars! At least for me it did.
From the travel arrangements, I’d say that book your flights early, they get super expensive the closer the date gets!! For example when I was looking for flights after Christmas break, one-way flight on a Sunday was 500€, and on another the same company offered flights for 48€. Also, make sure you have your visa ready, if you need it, as well as travel insurance and VACCINATIONS! I had no idea we were supposed to get any and when I arrived here the school scared me pretty badly with all kinds of notes saying I might die if I don’t get the proper vaccinations…it is just a precaution, of course, but if you don’t wanna freak out that you’re dying every time you catch a cold, go get them. You can get the information from your NTU exchange coordinator.
As I’ve mentioned in my earlier posts, Nottingham is a lovely city. But pick carefully the area where you’ll live at. Radford, my area, is not too good. But the Student Lodge apartments here are really nice and well protected! NTU won’t give you much help with finding an apartment if you are only here for half a year or less, but just go on google and start contacting people offering housing options. Also maybe if you call NTU and make sure they know you’re having problems, then they might be more helpful. Understandably they have many incoming students so they can only answer a certain amount of emails with full concentration.
I’d recommend that you order cash before hand through your bank, because if you make cash withdrawals here, the machines will charge you a bit more. But the most common credit cards work almost everywhere! But just in case, its good to have cash. Also, learn the different coins they have here in UK. They are very different from Euros and it’s gonna take some time to learn what each coin looks like. Honestly, only just before my Christmas break I felt like I’d got them down. And every time I get the right coins out fast in the store, I feel very proud! About the price level again, it is somewhat similar to what we have in Finland. But the Germans and French were shocked! But if your a Finn, you’ll be happy to shop in Primark.
Now that I’ve been here for a while, I can say that overall NTU is a great school! You really have to be self-imposed and active to keep up with everything, especially in the beginning when everything is new. You are expected to handle a great deal of things on your own, relating to your exchange. But the school is beautiful, the teachers are very nice and the orientation week was awesome…anyway, this school is a great choice! Make sure you get to know people during orientation, that way you avoid the worst home sickness and loneliness in the beginning. You’ll have plenty of events and meetings for exchange students, who are all so different, so its almost impossible for you to not find someone you like.
I took the HRM module here, which consisted of Researching People and Organizations, Managing and Organizing for Human Resource Management and Applied Human Resource Management. Each of these courses are very different, although in the end they come together and provide you with a deep understanding of HRM. The IB course for HRM in JAMK was like a good basis for what we learned here. As I’ve mentioned in the blog earlier, there is a LOT of reading to do! So if you’re looking for an easy course, this is not it. These courses include essays, presentations, literature reviews, research projects and exams. But I really found this module so useful and am so glad that I took it. I think I have even found ideas for my thesis!
About the British culture, it was pretty much what I expected. A lot of fast food, fish and chips, beer and crazy party people. But on the other hand, super friendly as well. If you are a party person, you’ll love this city! If you’re not, you will be happy to know that there are many kinds of different society’s in NTU, related to religion, sports, cooking, dancing and many others. So you will definitely find something to do. And the campus itself holds many great opportunities, as well as its surroundings. It is right in the city center!
All in all this exchange has taught me a lot. It was the first time I lived on my own and the first time I’ve spend more than two weeks in a different country. This experience really made me grow up a lot, developed my professional skills and brought me great international friends. My English skills have improved and I’ve learned a LOT about academic writing. I had no problems with any nationalities, every one was so friendly and helpful. I think the moment I realized what an international person I’ve become, was when I was doing a group work with the most diverse group of girls ever: I am from Finland, one was from China, another from the Middle-East and one from Africa. You would think that there would be at least some misunderstandings or something, but we were a great, well functioning group. What I learned from this was that, don’t ever make presumptions about people, especially not because of their nationality. Of course some stereotypes exist and some people chose to act accordingly, but its not about where you’re from, its about your personality. I bet I was not what they’d expect from a Finn! Well, except the blonde hair, blue eyes and pale skin of course..
When I look back at my exchange time here in Nottingham, I feel extremely thank full that I got to experience it. I really taught me a lot. I’m only writing these advice now, because before I didn’t feel like I’d know what to say. But now I feel like I’ve really gotten to know the city and the school and this has become like second home for me. But I am glad to go back to Jyväskylä too, there are so many new exciting things waiting for me. I will probably be waking up a few nights wondering if I’m still in Nottingham, but it’ll pass.
Oh! And one last thing, do not travel long distances with the coach if you wanna get there on time…I traveled about ten trips and each time the coach was late…and there’s even this annoying sign at Gatwick airport, saying that ‘Next time take the smarter way’ and a picture of a train..should have listened to it. This of course only my experience, maybe you’ll have better luck!
I hope someone finds this useful!