Southampton – University of Southampton

Reasons people went to this university /place

  • I was particularly interested in a syntax class that the department of Modern Languages at the University of Southampton offered. Additionally there were some interesting classes about teaching English as a foreign language.
  • interesting courses, great student city, located conveniently in the UK (easy to travel to lots of other places in the UK from Southampton)

Recommended semester to go there

  • You should either go there for the winter term or for the whole year. Lots of British students start studying there in October and they are very open in the beginning of the year. If you go there just for the summer term, then most people will already have made friends and it will be more difficult to get in contact with others.
  • Winter semester or a whole year because it’s a lot easier to make friends in the beginning of the year

Before going there

Accommodation experiences

  • I lived in a private rented accommodation. When I went to Southampton I spent a couple of days in a B&B to look for accommodation. The owner of the B&B got me in contact with a British lady who worked at the University of Southampton and who had a free room that I could rent. It was definitely a great place to stay. I wanted to stay with native speakers, so living in a British family is a good way to do so.
  • I wanted to live in a private rented house to have British or international flatmates to make sure I spoke as much English as possible

Special items to pack

  • Waterproof trousers and waterproof shoes, especially if you want to get to University by bike or if you want to join any outdoor clubs, such as the hillwalking society (they go on walks every Saturday, no matter if it rains or not)
  • A raincoat. Umbrellas are inconvenient to carry so having a raincoat is a lot easier.

How people who went there handled their finances

  • I didn’t open a new bank account, it simply was not necessary.If you use a cash machine, do get sure that you don’t need to pay any fees in order to withdraw money. Not all cash machines are for free.
  • I opened a UK bank account because I had to pay a fee whenever I transferred money from my Austrian to a British account (when paying bills etc.). Opening an account was very easy, but the banks are very busy in the beginning of the semester.

University Information

Rough semester schedule

  • The first semester starts in the beginning of October and it ends in the beginning of January, so a semester is 12 weeks long, however, there is one week off during those 12 weeks (normally week 6 and it’s called “reading week”). The second semester starts in January and ends in May.

Holidays during the semester

  • reading week in autumn, Christmas holiday, Easter holiday (4 weeks!)

Number of ECTS the university expected former exchange students to do

  • 30 ECTS credits per semester. You weren’t allowed to do more.
  • The university of Southampton initially wanted me to do 30 ECTS per semester, but doing less was also not a problem after talking to the Erasmus coordinator there (I was at the end of my studies so doing more than 40 ECTS points for the whole year would have been pointless for me because I couldn’t have gotten credit for it in back in Vienna)

Course restrictions and when the university informed students about those

  • I wasn’t allowed to do any courses for my second “Lehramtsfach” (history)
  • They generally were very accommodating when I explained which courses I needed in order for me to get credits for them in Vienna and even managed to squeeze me into a full course. We figured all this out in the first week or two

Did the university actually offer the classes students originally planned to do?

  • No, they don’t offer exactly the same classes every year. So some of the classes I had chosen the year before, actually were not offered when I went there.
  • Most of them – some are not offered every year but I found good replacement courses

Recommended  courses/modules

  • the advanced syntax class
  • a class about the books of Flaubert (the most interesting literature class I ever had!)
  • I found all the literature courses are very interesting even though literature is my least favourite thing about studying English

Exam period

  • in January and in May

How exams look like

  • I only had one exam, in all my other classes I simply needed to hand in two 2000 words essays in the course of the semester. In terms of the exam there is usually an exam timetable which tells you the date of your exam and the room where the exam takes place. You can’t miss an exam as there are not several sittings. The teacher that taught your class is normally not present at the exam. There are lots of guidelines how to behave during the exam and what items you are allowed to bring, etc.
  • They usually take place in big lecture theatres or sports halls and you get an assigned seat in the room because they have different exams going on at the same time in the same room

Important deadlines

  • You need to hand in essays in the middle of the term and at the end of the term.
  • In most courses there are deadlines but students are allowed to hand their work in late; however, this affects the grade and a certain percentage of the mark gets deducted for every day it’s late

Other information

Recommended restaurants, cafes, bars, shopping centers ect.

  • Sprinkles, the British students are convinced that the ice cream you get there is the best ice cream in town
  • the Cowherds: a pub which is known for its excellent food
  • The city centre is full of shopping centres (the biggest one is Westquay) and there’s even an IKEA in town.
  • The Coffee Lab is a really cute café with very good coffee and lots of (I think homemade) cakes and desserts.
  • In Portswood I’d recommend the Mitre for drinks and food (relatively cheap + 10% student discount).
  • On campus the Bridge and the uni pub, Stags, are great places to hang out and spend the evening in, plus there are always events such as karaoke or pub quizzes on.

Recommended secret spots in the city/town

  • I would recommend to do the Jane Austen walk and to visit the Dolphin hotel where Jane Austen celebrated one of her birthdays (you can walk into the hotel and ask for permission to visit the room). Additionally, I would recommend to explore the old town walls.
  • My favourite (slightly hidden) shop was a little vegan shop in town called Rice Up Wholefoods, where they try to limit packaging too and sell tea, spices, dried fruit, and grains by weight.

Recommended day trips

  • Winchester (also good as afternoon trip)
  • Portsmouth
  • Oxford
  • Brighton
  • Isle of Wight
  • The new forest (huge national park with a few beautiful villages)
  • London
  • Chawton (Jane Austen’s home)
  • New Forest

Recommended places or events to meet new people / make new friends

  • join societies and clubs at the University. That’s where you meet likeminded people and also lots of locals.
  • volunteer at a scouts and guides groups in Southampton
  • meet new people at Friends International (A group of British volunteers, mainly elderly people, organize lots of interesting events for international students for free.)
  • ESN (Erasmus Student Network) organise lots of events where you can meet fellow Erasmus students.

Public transport offered in the city / area of the University

  • Students use the “unilink buses” to get to university. Apart from that there are also other bus services in town.
  • In order to leave Southampton you can either go by ferry, coach or train.

Other recommendations

  • I bought a second hand bike a few days after I had arrived. That saved me a lot of money. To get to London, Oxford and other cities take the coach (National Express), it’s much cheaper than the trains in Britain.
  • Once again, societies, that’s where you can make friends very easily and can find new hobbies too. I recommend quidditch, dodgeball, and ultimate frisbee.
  • Also, Jester’s night club is great to go out.

Is this University the right place for me?

You should spend your semester/year abroad at this university or place

  • if you are interested in linguistics
  • if you want to try out new things by joining societies and clubs, for example the Quidditch club, the cake decorating society or the polo club
  • you enjoy new experiences and meeting new people
  • you’ve always wanted to try out lots of new societies
  • you enjoy having everything all uni-related activities closeby (uni sports centre on campus, etc.)
  • because you want to visit lots of great and well-known places such as London, Oxford, Winchester, etc. they are all easily reachable from Southampton.
  • because you want to visit lots of great and well-known places such as London, Oxford, Winchester, etc. they are all easily reachable from Southampton.
  • the British university setting is completely different than the Austrian one and it makes it easier to meet people at uni
  • it’s a great place to live in an study

You should not spend your semester/year abroad at this university or place

(all information provided is based on 2 filled out questionnaire)