Men can take courses at Smith College
Mount Holyoke College 2013-14
I advise anyone who wants to go abroad to deal with the planning in good time. Many documents are required for the application for a stay abroad, which can be found clearly and quickly on the homepage, but cannot be filled out by you alone. For example, you need two reports from professors and a health certificate from a doctor. I guess that the first application round alone takes several months and that shouldn't be underestimated alongside your studies and other activities.
Subject: BA English / Russian teaching degree
Length of stay: 08 /2013 – 05 /2014
Host university:Mount Holyoke College
Host country:United States
The exchange places for the USA are very limited and I only got into the program as part of the replacement procedure, this is to show that even with a complete application, one does not have a guarantee for a stay abroad. You should also be aware that even with a possible partial scholarship through the partnership, your semester and / or year abroad will be more expensive than you know from the costs in Germany. The USA basically has tuition fees that do not include the cost of living, eating and leisure. I was able to apply for the Auslandsbafög, which had helped me a lot, but had to save up before my year in order to be able to finance it (flight ticket for a return flight, visa, partial study fees, clothing, travel during the holidays over the Christmas holidays, etc.).
You need a lot of time and patience during the application phase. All too often I went to the International Office at the New Palais to plan my academic year. Given the size of the University of Potsdam, you have to keep in mind that you are not the only student who would like to go abroad.
Mount Holyoke College has a large number of international students who come to the United States for full study. Every year there are around 15 students who come here for the semester or year that you would be one of. The first communication takes place via email and my questions were answered quickly. Furthermore, I got in contact with former students from Potsdam, who were able to answer many of my questions even better.
In 2012 I was in the USA and was able to look at the college I wanted, which helped me with my selection of the partner university. But the college homepage also gives a good virtual overview. Every student gets a “supervisor” who will be your official contact person for your program. This specialist will help you create your schedule and make decisions about your choice of course. They are also at your side for other questions and information.
Subject: BA English / Russian teaching degree
Length of stay: 08 /2013 – 05 /2014
Host university:Mount Holyoke College
Host country:United States
Study at the host university
Mount Holyoke College is a traditional women's college that is very recognized in the USA. Every year there are around 2000 young women from all over the world who do their bachelor's degree here at the Liberal Arts College. All students live on the beautiful New England campus. There are four other universities around the college. Smith College (Women's College), Hampshire College, Amherst College and the University of Massachusetts (U
MASS). You also have the opportunity to take courses at other universities. The PVTA buses take students from one college to another.
A course event lasts 90 minutes, is twice a week and usually counts 4 credits, which are the equivalent of 8 credit points. On average, you take 4 courses, but you can be enrolled for up to 5 per semester. Compared to the German higher education system, there are more “tests”, “exams” and “papers” spread over the entire semester. At the end of the semester there is still the final phase, in which everyone writes their last exams or papers.
The courses are definitely smaller, which gives you a very calm and personal working atmosphere. For example, my courses only consisted of 5 to 20 people. The introductory courses like “Introduction to Philosophy” can be a bit larger, but it is still very clear and more like the size of a school class. While Mount Holyoke College is a traditional women's college, there are also men from other colleges in the courses.
In general, I have found the professors to be very helpful. They create and enable individual support. The lecturers often offer an "office hour" in which one can exchange ideas. I made good use of this, especially in the first semester, to look into the learning system and see what was expected of me.
During my year abroad I was able to continue studying my subjects English and Russian. Here you have your different faculties / departments that help you with questions and can always contact you. Here we also have the moodle learning platform and the university email address, with which students and professors can exchange material and information. The university is very well equipped technically. Everywhere there is access to wifi (in your room, in the classrooms, library, etc.), computers and, above all, Apple products, good copiers and printers. This enables material to be procured inexpensively. The library is particularly worth mentioning, in which many important and course-relevant books, newspapers, magazines, films, etc. are available.
My general impression is that there is a very familiar working atmosphere here, that students help each other a lot and exchange ideas. Many students are involved in different activity groups and do the assignments voluntarily. There are many tutorials or “one-to-one support” that can also help you free of charge (homework, etc.).
I particularly enjoyed the Russian classes here. The language teachers all came from Russia, which made the lessons very authentic. This has helped me improve my use of the language. Among other things, I attended a Russian culture course in English, which I also really enjoyed.
In the English courses I was particularly able to improve my writing skills and research. Since you have to write several small and large term papers as well as tests within the semester, you are in a continuous course of study. At the end of the finals, you don't have much difficulty in passing the exams. You are forced to be very hard-working during the semester and you are busy with the content for the entire semester. With good time management, you can achieve all of the goals you strive for.
Contacts with local and foreign students
The bachelor's degree here takes 4 years. You then belong to a certain vintage color, such as “red”, “yellow”, “blue” or “green”, which you then keep for the whole time. You would either be one of the Juniors or Seniors here, which often creates identity and solidarity among the students at official events on campus.
With the "5 College System" you always have the opportunity to meet different students. Everyone lives on their campus and you automatically see each other more often. The distances are shorter and meeting in “dorms”, “dining halls” or “public spots” makes it possible to get to know new things. It is not like with the frequent “ERASMUS” stay that you only deal with German or international students. Everything is mixed up, for example through the courses or leisure activities.
Language skills before and after the stay abroad
During my two semesters, I was able to improve my language skills a lot. Smaller groups in the seminar gave me the opportunity to express myself orally and was able to receive personal feedback after each semester. The foreign language lessons are always in the respective language such as Russian, Spanish, French, Chinese etc. and are therefore very authentic.
Most of the students around me were native English / American speakers and I was forced to speak English all the time. The students on my hockey team were from different states and you also learned a lot of regional and cultural aspects such as language, food and tradition. The international students were also very enriching with dialects, culture, etc. I have never met such a large variety of different people.
Living and living situation
"South Hadley" is a small "town" in the state of Massachusetts. You will find everything you need every day on campus. If you want to go to the shopping mall, you have the option of using the PVTA buses, which are free of charge for you. You have to adapt a lot here, without a car, for example, you are often dependent on American friends who can pick you up. I also took the bus more often because you can't walk the routes here.
All students live on campus in "single" or "double rooms". As an international student, you get your own room, which you don't have to share. The room is furnished with a bed, built-in wardrobe, chest of drawers, desk and chair and a large window. Note that you have to buy a duvet, pillow, bed linen, table lamp and towel on the first day, as this is not offered.
The first purchase comes together, but once that is behind you, you set up your room according to your taste (you can stick posters, cards, etc. on your walls) and it will be very cozy right away. In the corridor you share the sanitary facilities and you often have a small common kitchen.
You do not need to cook during your stay, as you are bound to a “meal plan”. You get breakfast, lunch and dinner and each “dining hall” on campus varies the food. There is a buffet and you can eat as much as you want. For example, you can put together salads and eat delicious and healthy food despite the common clichés. I was very happy with the food. “Blanchard Campus Center”, which is centrally located on the campus, offers “fast food” such as pizza, wraps, salads, snacks and drinks. It's similar to a takeaway or kiosk that is open 24/7. There is also your small locker for personal mail.
Opposite your university there is the "Common Village", a passage with a few small shops, such as a cafe, a bookstore and a few restaurants. Here you will also find the “Peoples Bank”, which will open an account for you free of charge. It is best to have your credit card with you, from which you can easily withdraw money or generally pay with it anywhere. Next to it is the “post office”, from where you can simply send mail and parcels.
Since I arrived here in the summer, I traveled with my large hiking backpack. My clothes were enough for the summer. You can wash and dry in any house for $ 1.50 each. I either bought my winter clothes from good “thrift stores” or went to the mall. Since the dollar rate is good for us with the euro, the cost of buying clothes is very low.
There is a sports center at the college, which has a large fitness and weight room. There is also a large swimming pool, tennis and squash courts and a tartan track.
There are many sports here that are offered as PE class, but for which you do not get any credit points. There are also the “drop in classes” such as yoga, pilates, kickboxing and spinning, which can be attended without obligation and free of charge. The "Outting Club" is a student association that offers weekly hiking tours, climbing and seasonal activities such as skiing. There are always different actions or activities spread over the year. For example “A capella”, plays, lectures with invited guests from outside, many campus celebrations and very traditional events such as “Convocation” (the beginning of the semester) and “Commencment” or graduation (which you will also take part in).
If you have already practiced one or more sports in Germany such as soccer, volleyball, basketball, field or ice hockey, lacrosse, golf, squash, rowing, athletics, horse riding and swimming, you have the opportunity to register for a "try out". I played for the field hockey team myself and was one of the “student athletes” who can devote themselves to their sport on a daily basis. I had a lot of fun. I was able to make new friends quickly by practicing a sport and I was still able to take part in tournaments.
Throughout the year you are insured by "MHC insurance" and must also book this as an international student in order to be insured in the state of Massachusetts. I advise you to do all possible preliminary examinations before you start your stay. For example dentist,
General practitioner etc. If you need any medication, bring supplies and, in case of emergencies, your prescription with you. There is a “trainer room” and the “health center” directly on campus, which are available for small accidents such as falling, sprains, etc.
Peter Pan Bus is a bus company that takes you inexpensively direct from South Hadley to Boston in two hours or to NYC in 4 hours. I also used that more often. The university also offers day trips, which are a great way to spend your free time. The best thing to do is to fly directly from a large city like Berlin to Boston (often a stopover in London) and take a bus from there to South Hadley via Springfield. The closest airport to the college is called Bradley Airport, which is located in the state of Connecticut, but which will be significantly more expensive.
As soon as you receive the confirmation from the host university, you will receive all further documents to be able to apply for your F-1 visa (student visa). The best way to do it is in Berlin. I would also make an appointment here in good time. Think of a recent photo and the costs involved.
I learned a lot of new things during my year abroad. I was able to deepen many new focuses in my subjects. I also learned a lot about myself as a person and about integrating into a group. I know how I can deal better with learning stress and how I have to organize my daily schedule in order to create the many planned and additional leisure activities. It was interesting to be taught by new professors, to try new learning techniques and to see what and how other students learn. I have exhausted my two semesters very much and am sure that the new skills I have learned will help me in my further studies and in my further life in Germany.
It is definitely a challenge to leave your familiar surroundings and friends for a long time and get used to something new. I can only emphasize that the previous organization and the effort paid off. I hope you are brave and decide to do a semester / year abroad. You are welcome to contact me.
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