Reasons people went to this university /place
It has a strong focus on natural sciences (my second subject is chemistry) and it is in England. Furthermore, my sending institutions (TU Wien & Uni Wien) greatly supported me to fulfill the courses I wanted to apply for. As a consequence, I lost no time in finishing my studies.
Recommended semester to go there
I had a great time during winter. However, the weather might be better in summer semester, which makes traveling and outdoor activities easier and more fun. BTW, you definitely have a lot more free time comparing effort/ECTS between Vienna/Bath, but this depends also on how you negotiate the learning agreement.
Before going there
I stayed at a couch-surfer for the first 3 weeks and then found a shared room in a student flat. There was also the option for on campus/o campus/city center student accommodation, but the price was higher(~400-700 pounds/around 500 to 1000€ back then per month) and you had to share your room with another student. I paid 470€ per month and had my own room with shared kitchen and bath. However, accommodation is very rare at Bath, particularly for students. So consider arranging this before arrival, best via the bath exchange FB-page from leaving exchange students: https://www.facebook.com/groups/507023922699603/.
The fact that I thought it will be easy to find something once I am in Bath, proved not to be true. So I ended up with meeting quite interesting people and seeing a lot of homes from the inside, before I finally got a place. I shared kitchen and bath with one English and one Polish student. We had a backyard garden and the place was midway between city center and university on a small hill. The whole flat had carpets (as nearly every room I saw), something I had to get used to. My room was quite big, had not much light, heating was old but great and the room was fully furnished although the furniture had seen better days. However, I hardly spent time in my room – only for sleeping and breakfast (the kitchen was so small that we ended up most of the time in my room, the biggest of all three, eating). Private rooms rented out to students – as the one I lived in – are in general not the best ones, but they do. However, don’t compare them to Viennese standards and as soon as you can put a bed in there it’s a room and costs a lot. I’ve seen quite a couple of other student rooms and some of the university accommodations were quite nice: Carpenter house or Thornbank gardens: However, it was quite hard to get a room there & all students I knew there shared their room. On campus accommodation was really expansive & was mostly reserved for the freshers.
Special items to pack
- Outlet adapter!
- Rain jacket
- Austrian chocolate & schnapps!
How people who went there handled their finances
- I got quite a bit Erasmus money (that came up, together with my Studienbeihilfe for the high room expenses & for food) and I rented out my room in Vienna. For transferring the money I made a British bank account and transferred/exchanged 2 times quite high amounts via http://transferwise.com that saved me some of the transfer fees. The first week I just withdraw money from the ATM with my Austrian bank card. Overall I spent around 1100€/month over a period of 5 months, some months more some less. However, this might be cheaper and it included 2 flights back home and traveling a couple of times to London, one flight to Edinburgh and several trips to places around Bath. However, my most expanses were accommodation and I really lived on the cheapest food available, though I regretted this sometimes.
Rough semester schedule
The winter term really started in the beginning of October and ended basically two weeks before Christmas. Then there were two exam weeks in January. In September there was an introduction week that was quite fun to get to know other people and have a good time. Also course registration and signing up for clubs already started by mid of September.
Holidays during the semester
Between 15th of December till second week of January.
Number of ECTS the university expected former exchange students to do
At least 24 ECTS, but I did more, because some of them have been quite easy to receive. There was however an upper limit of 36 ECTS for exchange students.
Course restrictions and when the university informed students about those
Yes, officially it was only possible to sign up for courses concerning the exchange department you were on (chemistry in my case). However, I did courses from Physics, Biology and English Literature that fit my schedule at home. This was possible, because my exchange coordinator in Bath was pretty easy-going. It usually depends very much on your coordinator. I know that it was not that easy with courses form the social sciences. Some of the English language courses were specifically designed for exchange students and you could choose as much as you wanted as long as their total credit score did not exceed the amount of the chemistry courses. The regulations on the homepage and during application have been pretty strict, but once you are there you can re-schedule most of the courses.
Did the university actually offer the classes students originally planned to do?
Yes, except one course that has been shifted in the curriculum from winter to summer term. However, courses are pretty stable, but you have to invest some time to understand the course system & the online timetables.
Literature (English writers of Bath and the West-county) with Noreen Bennigan! We were only 5 people in the course and she taught it really interesting, with lots of useful stuff about the culture of the area. The things you usually don ́t find in text-books.
End of January.
How exams look like
The first year courses in science were all multiple choice & tutoring preparation counted towards it for 10% (something I really had to get used to). Later year science exams have been a mixture between homework and an open question exam at the end. For the English courses have been assessed on the base of presentations, written homework assignments & papers (the longest paper was 1500 words.!!! ;-)). In the literature course I had a final, timed in-class essay to write.
Make sure that you fixed your course schedule with your supervisor within the first week. Exam dates: you can’t shift them and they are pretty much all in the same week.
Recommended restaurants, cafes, bars, shopping centers etc.
There are a couple of bars, cafes and restaurants in the city, but everything closes quite early. Best Pub → The Bell, they had sometimes live music, a great atmosphere and more locals than tourists or students.
Club → The Nest, was cheap and had longer hours (2am), most of the time there was no entrance.
Restaurants were pretty expansive, I stuck most of the time to burgers at the pub.
There was a social room in the student accommodation carpenter house, we often met there for drinks and then either went on or to some house party.
Food at campus was relatively cheap, also drinks. Particularly at happy hour in the students union.
Small things to shop were easy to get in the city center. However, groceries were much cheaper a bit outside of the city at Lidl or Sainsbury’s. I often went to the Italian shop called “Da vinci” at Wellsway for REAL bread and coffee. It was close to my flat at Wellsway.
Recommended secret spots
Alexandra Park, a bit hidden, but you get a beautiful view, if there is view 😉
Beck Tower, features a great forgotten graveyard & the tower, which also offers a great view. Bring some lunch!
the channels out of Bath o er a great scenery and nice walks
the two bike/walking tunnels starting at the end of Maple groove. Particularly, when you walk in there before 12 and then they turn the light o ;-). I went there quite often for a run, as they have been close to my at.
Jane Austen museum, I never went there
the mini golf course it ́s a fun place for Sunday afternoon
the mission theater featured some interesting plays when I was there
And there is one cinema that does independent films once a week, I just don’t know the name any more, but there are only two cinemas
Rugby they have a student rugby team and I went once to a match, was an interesting experience ;-).
Recommended day trips
Bristol (~10min. Train ride) is close and a great city to be!!! You can also get there by bike, but it’ll take you 2-3hours. Stokes Croft is a nice place with lots of bars, cafes and 2nd hand shops in Bristol. I spend some nights there at friends and returned the next day straight to uni, as it was so close.
Weston-super-mare (~1h train ride): I had luck and was able to see Banksy’s Dismalland, though it took us 8 hours in the queue, but it was worth it. However, Weston-Super-Mare is also without Banksy a nice place at the beach. They also have a pier and great fish’n’chips.
Bradford-on-Avon is a nice little town and easy to reach by bike from Bath via the channel bikeway.
For London you get cheap bus tickets at the student union, if you book in advance (10 pounds one way), but its a 3 hours ride.
Oxford, Cardif but take an early train for both to have enough time there.
Stonghenge: something I missed out on, but a lot of others did go there, its relatively close and they organise trips with the exchange students.
There are some nice bike ways & cycle routes around Bath, that was quite nice on weekends to cycle along them. However, cycling in the city is not like Vienna. Cars are not used to cyclists.
Recommended places or events to meet new people / make new friends
The exchange events at the beginning of the term are quite helpful. Bath has more than 30% exchange students from all over the world, so basically most of the students are eager to get to know new people or make friends. I also found some good friends via couch surfing.
Public transport offered in the city / area of the University
I bought myself a bike, though the university is on a quite steep hill, but they have showers for cyclists and lockers. You have to ask for them at campus security, then they unlock your card for them. However, it is really not the easiest ride up the hill in the morning when you are not used to it. Cycling in the city is not like Vienna. Cars are not used to cyclists, though there are quite some on the road. There are two bus companies running up the hill to bath university, Wessex is cheaper, but only offers the buses to uni and into city. The other company is more expansive, but the ticket runs for more buses. However, getting to uni by bus was every day a hustle. All students want to get up to uni at the same time around 8am and the buses sometimes did not show up or stop at your stop, because they were full. So consider well, if you want to invest in a bus ticket.
- Bath is very central for traveling around south England.
Is this University the right place for me?
You should spend your semester/year abroad at this university or place
- If you like small cities.
- If you are into science.
- If you like the outdoors & some city feeling.
- If you like crisps.
- If you like Jane Austen.
- If you want to have a central spot for traveling south England.
- If you like gardens & parks.
- If you like rain.
- If you like Britain for what its known, you will find it in Bath or Bristol.
- Because it will be a great experience.
You should not spend your semester/year abroad at this university or place
- If you like good food.
- If you like the sun & sunny days (although the summer term should be sunnier)
- If you like dark bread.
- If you like cheap drinks.
(all information provided is based on 1 filled out questionnaire)