Living and studying in Stoke-On-Trent, England for almost 7 months has been one of the best experiences in my life, regardless of the ongoing pandemic. I started my exchange program in January 2020 and returned to Finland halfway through July. Stoke-On-Trent (often just Stoke) is located in Northern Staffordshire which in my opinion is the perfect location for an exchange student in England; it’s not far from London or Manchester and travelling is fairly easy and cheap, especially with the railcard. Stoke has lot to offer such as lovely parks, shopping centre, museums, pubs and restaurants and everything is fairly close. You can easily walk everywhere.
I did my exchange studies in the Staffordshire University. The courses I studied were really interesting and I learned so many new things! In total I did three modules during my studies which meant having lectures 3 days a week leaving me with a lot of spare time for travelling and other activities. I did lots of travelling between Stoke-On-Trent and London. The professors in my chosen modules were so nice and helpful and I could not have asked a better study experience. Studying in a University in England differs a lot from studying in a University in Finland (or at least in TAMK) since the focus was on theoretical learning all the time. We did hardly any practical studies which was a little bit disappointing. Our focus was on theory and assignments and we had to write one essay for each module at the end of the semester. Your final mark depended on how well you did on your essay. For each lecture we had to do some preparatory work; this could be for example reading an article, doing some research or watch a documentary. We would have a discussions, or some sort of group work activity on each lecture based on the given assignment. Most of the study hours in England are meant for studying by yourself and sometimes it did feel like I had no spare time because of the studies taking so much time of my day.
Staffordshire University offered a lot of spare time activities such as social clubs and a gym. The campus area was surrounded with bars, coffee shops, restaurants and grocery stores. I spent good amount of my time during my studies in the library doing research and assignments with my classmates before the lockdown. I am so happy I did not have to cut my exchange studies short because of the lockdown and was able to stay in England. Distance learning on it’s own was an experience as well!
I can’t wait to visit Stoke-On-Trent again one day and look back to all the memories I made during my exchange studies!