Connecting with international students at Coventry University

Kristin Hessel (B.Sc. Media and Business Psychology at HMKW Cologne) was looking for a new challenge: She spent the last winter semester at Coventry University, an Erasmus partner university of HMKW. Here she tells us about exciting experiences, encounters with international students and how her semester abroad helped her in both personal and professional terms.

HMKW student Kristin Hessel (second from the right) with fellow students

HMKW student Kristin Hessel (second from the right) with fellow students

At which university did you spend your semester abroad?

I did my semester abroad at Coventry University in England.

How did you like it? Would you recommend it to other HMKW students?

Definitely! I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a challenge. It is a very good chance to learn a lot about yourself and to develop yourself.

Apart from the language skills that you can improve in everyday life, there are many different opportunities to develop yourself. You also get to know a lot of new people, cultures and ways of life. On the weekends we always used the time to explore new cities and sights. We went to Oxford, London and Stonehenge, among other places.

What was the biggest challenge during your semester abroad?

The biggest challenge for me was the time I spent preparing for my semester abroad, or the first phase of it. After I had chosen my courses, making sure that they would be credited at HMKW, the search for accommodation and travel planning began. I had no experience reports to fall back on, was looking for accommodation for a long time and finally chose a 6-person shared apartment in a private student dormitory. Then I decided to go by car instead of flying to have more freedom. There were many things to organize - until it finally started.

When it was time to leave, I had a drive of about 800 km ahead of me. It was the first time I had been in another country for such a long time and I generally had no idea what exactly to expect. I was alone, didn't know my roommates, and didn't have any info about what to do at the university. However, when I arrived, I immediately made a lot of new friends and quickly settled in.


How does campus life at Coventry University differ from that in Germany?

Campus life is very different from that in Germany. For one thing, due to the current situation, it has not been possible for me to attend many presence classes at HMKW. In England this was completely different. There were no corona measures anymore. We had lectures with up to 200 students in one lecture hall and everything took place in presence and without masks. Furthermore, more self-initiative was required compared to HMKW. You choose your courses independently and have to show a completely different learning behavior, because you don't have such a close relationship with the professors due to such large courses. Another difference was the campus life outside of the lectures.

The CUSU - Coventry University Students Union - is a student initiative of Coventry University and offers more than 150 different societies. All kinds of sports are offered there. There are also marketing, psychology and cultural societies. This gives you the opportunity to balance your studies or get new impressions and meet a lot of new people. We even had our own garden with lots of vegetables and fruit, which each student was allowed to pick for themselves. In addition, you could get to know a lot of new cultures, as Coventry University with more than 13,000 students has a very high number of international students.

How did your studies in the UK influence you? For example, in terms of your later career goals.

It has influenced me to some extent in my personal attitude. I took a course that was quite strong on personal and professional development. In this course, we were supposed to look at our career planning as part of a term paper and draw up a small career plan. In the process, we had to think very reflectively about our future and kept coming up with new results. But the people I met there also contributed to this. I was able to exchange ideas with many people from different countries of origin, and I always learned new things. In the coming summer semester, I will complete the mandatory internship and all this has definitely made a positive impact on my choice of internship and the application process.


What would you recommend to other HMKW students for their semester/time abroad?

In preparation for the semester abroad, I would definitely recommend looking for an opportunity to exchange experiences with others. For example, with people who have already spent a semester abroad or with those who will be doing it at the same university. My semester abroad was accompanied by the ERASMUS+ program, which offers a lot of help both in preparation and on site. For example, there was a Facebook group with other students, which gave you the opportunity to exchange information about the upcoming semester abroad in advance. Also, you should take the chance to get to know different places and many new people by joining a society, for example.

Thank you very much for the insights into your semester abroad. We wish you all the best and much success for your internship.