Postcards from the UK
On the quaint charm of the University of Hertfordshire
Amanda Mitchell // Columnist
It’s hard to believe that I’ve only been in the UK for a week and a half. The first couple of days following my arrival were a whirlwind of adjustment, confusion and late-night phone calls back home. Despite this, I’ve already met many amazing people from across the world and have become inseparable from the two other Capilano University students I arrived with.
I’ve also had more time to compare my two schools. CapU has an excellent and straight-forward registration process, while the University of Hertfordshire (known locally as UHerts) seems to delegate lectures, tutorials and timetables in a colossal vortex of chaos. Whether you take classes in the same faculty or across the spectrum, there are no protocols that prevent classes from being scheduled in the same time slot.
Further, international students are at the mercy of clashes between housing contracts and faculty start dates. For example, the School of Business and Law begins a week after arrival, whereas the Arts faculties begin two days after arrival. Timetables are also not provided until a week after registration. Unfortunately, I study in the School of Communication, which is scheduled with the other Arts faculties. Due to this, I not only had an empty timetable, but I had the unlucky schedule of two classes that were at the same time on the same day. Luckily, there are generous staff members who are willing to help students at any point during the day, and I was able to fix my class times with a quick academic advisor meeting.
On a brighter note, I absolutely love living on campus. As an individual who has never lived alone before, campus life is the dream. UHerts is an enormous school complete with two separate campuses that are set 15 minutes apart. I live on De Havilland, the campus closest to the city centre, which I specifically requested over the other campus (College Lane). De Havilland is where all my classes are, and where the campus sports village is. I exercise four to five times per week, so it was crucial that my accommodation be close to the gym. De Havilland also has a small grocery store, a restaurant, a large library and several coffee shops. College Lane has newer accommodation and the dorm rooms are larger. However, the main university reception is on De Havilland and the sports center is tiny. College Lane is also significantly louder as there is a large nightclub, a bar and common rooms available for dorm parties.
UHerts has the typical English allure one would expect to see in a small British town. Where CapU’s location exhibits the natural beauty of mountains and trees, UHerts has a quaint charm with red-bricked buildings and rolling hills.
I live in a flat with 11 other people from all over the world. We get along fairly well and keep our communal kitchen somewhat tidy. I also live next door to two CapU students who I met just days before travelling abroad. None of us knew each other before this experience, but we became instant friends. It can be tough living with a big group sometimes, especially in the evening when flat mates come home and doors slam into the wee hours of the night. Stealing food and kitchen utensils is also a common affair – so I don’t bring paper towels, cooking oil, dish rags, or spices into the kitchen in case someone else takes them.
So far, this experience has exceeded my expectations. I didn’t realize how quickly I would get to know other people. Even in a large school, I already find myself waving “hello” to familiar faces as I go to lectures, just as I do at CapU. I’m also trying not to let myself worry about things I can’t control. The first two weeks of classes are always rough and will be even rougher for me this semester. I’m concentrating on keeping my head high and focusing on each day as it comes.