York St John University Study Abroad (6)
The application process
At this point I have to say a big thank you to the advisors from MicroEDU: With their help, the application process was super easy. Precisely because the decision between some universities was not easy for me, they were always at my side with good advice. Thanks to the contact lists that MicroEDU sends by e-mail (if requested), some of us prospective international students were able to get to know each other even before starting their stay abroad, which was very helpful because many of us had the same questions and we were talking to each other so could exchange in advance.
Before starting your study visit, it is always worth checking with your bank about payment options abroad, as in many cases either the home bank or the foreign bank charges different fees when using cards abroad. Buying a credit card is advisable, although it was usually cheaper to use the normal bank card for card payments.
To pay tuition fees, I chose the Western Union Business Solutions method, which is straightforward and offered by York St John University. As soon as the form has been filled out online, all you have to do is go to the (German) bank with the printout and they will do the rest.
If you are used to the anonymity of German universities, it seems almost unreal how much effort York St John goes to looking after the students. Orientation week has numerous events explaining the class schedule, library, and even Yorkshire culture (it’s of course / skɒn /, not / skəʊn /) or how to open a bank account. Since York St John is a small university, many lecturers and advisors already know the students by name after just seeing them, some lecturers even mingle with the international students during the orientation week and seek a conversation with them. This personal approach makes you feel at home at the university straight away. During the semester, workshops are offered again and again, for example with tips on time management, which are definitely worth attending.
The beautiful university buildings really meet all requirements: The furnishings and technology are state-of-the-art and the compact campus features both eye candy such as The Quad, which seems to have escaped from a Harry Potter film, and brand new buildings like the one Student Union.
Particularly noteworthy is the library, which shows the YSJ’s special care for its students: In addition to every imaginable technical support, the library, which is open 24 hours a day, even provides extras such as boiling water for the beloved tea or blankets. Here you get a huge range of support for the tuition fees !
In York I took the third semester courses “Attitudes to Language” and “Shakespeare: Perspectives” and the first semester course “Introduction to Creative Writing”, thus covering the three areas of English Linguistics, English Literature and Creative Writing. All three courses were super interesting, and since the preparation and follow-up work was quite reading-intensive, I was busy with this division. In total, I had to submit four term papers for the courses.
The accommodation search was very simple: the university automatically assigns its internationals a place in one of the dormitories. During my stay abroad, I was accommodated in the Limes Court, which I liked very much (experience has shown that internationals are assigned to either the Limes Court or The Grange). Although it is a little further away with a 20-minute walk to the university (district Heworth), the quiet location and the sweet chocolate smell that is often wafted over there easily compensate for this. A bedding pack containing a blanket, pillow and covers is available for every international student upon arrival (so the suitcase is saved from this burden). The students live in the Limes with five residents each in small terraced houses, each with two bathrooms and a kitchen. The university has even promised that there are also local students in every household, so that you don’t have to worry about sitting around with Germans. We were a pure girl household with two internationals and three English women who were not only very tidy, but also super nice and helpful. And with many other students right next door, there is definitely no risk of getting lonely!
Clubs and Societies
In the lectures it is often difficult to come into contact with fellow students, so I would strongly advise you to join at least one of the various student clubs. I have joined three different clubs and societies; I made the most valuable friendships there during my studies, and from time to time I was able to ask for student advice. York St John has quickly become a second home for me, thanks to the open and cordial treatment of the students in the Societies.
Offers for international students
The YSJ holds a Global Café every Monday to which all internationals are invited. Depending on the theme of the event, pumpkins will be carved for Halloween, a quiz will be held or dishes from different nations will be made available to try. The people in charge go to great lengths there and are happy to answer other questions about life in York.
Immediately afterwards there will be an i: Connect Café in the city center, which is independent of the university and organized by Friends International. Although this is actually a Christian association, members of all religions are welcome. There you can, for example, register for a partner program in which you are assigned with an English family who then, for example, invite you to lunch or go on a day trip with their students. It was definitely a great experience for me!
York and free time
York is one of the most livable cities I have visited so far. The mixture of old walls and the student energy from two universities leaves nothing to be desired, and with (allegedly) 365 pubs there is plenty of program for every day of the year.
It is best to find out about the countless sights in advance at the tourist information office (there are free flyers, maps and very competent advice for everything). A visit to York’s Chocolate Story should definitely be on the to-do list (and of course the purchase of a chocolate orange to go with it!), And if you have a head for heights, you shouldn’t miss a visit to the minister and the climb to the tower to let! From there you have a fantastic view. But it is almost enough to stroll through the beautiful little streets and marvel at the traditional crooked shops in The Shambles (and the meter-long line that regularly forms in front of the Harry Potter shop). In addition, you should definitely try out some of the little cafes (my favorite was the Newgate Coffee Bar) and eat scones with jam there! In the “most haunted city in Europe”, a ghost walk should of course be part of the program.
Events such as the Bonfire Night (here the University’s International Student Support organizes a trip to the York Maze), the York Ice Trail or the Christmas market and the switching on of the city’s Christmas lights are definitely worth a look…
It becomes clear that there is always something to see in York.
Everything is within walking distance, but I got a bike, which turned out to be a good decision for me. If you are also toying with the idea, you should look around online (e.g. at Gumtree) or in the only used bike shop (ReCycle York) as soon as possible, as bicycles are very popular at the beginning of the semester. Mountain bikes are available from £ 40, city bikes are significantly more expensive at £ 80.
A word about the weather: I cannot confirm the stereotype of the constant rainy weather in England. Often it was not only sunnier in York, but even warmer than in northern Germany!
Destinations outside of York
According to Mcat-test-centers, York is in close proximity to two national parks: the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales, both of which are very scenic. The North York Moors can be easily reached with the Coastliner, which stops at several stations in York. The various buses go to Whitby or Scarborough, both of which are worth a visit. I liked Whitby a little better, however, as the small harbor town has a very special charm. A trip there can be combined with a trip on the North York Moors National Railway, because the route runs through the middle of the national park and the steam train also stops at Goathland Station, which is known as Hogsmeade Station in Harry Potter you can see. The Yorkshire Dales are a little harder to get to. If you don’t want to go there on your own, you can also book a day trip (e.g. BOB Holidays offers such tours). Real James Herriot fans might recognize the doctor’s office from one of the attached photos!
In addition, London is of course not far either (approx. 2 hours away by train), and Edinburgh beckons in Scotland (approx. 2½ hours by train)!
My stay abroad in York was definitely the highlight of my studies so far. York is beautiful (!), The university is great, the students are super friendly!
Anyone who, like me, vacillates between two universities no longer needs to worry: York St John is a real pearl!