As an MA student in German and English Studies, a semester abroad in an English-speaking country was the perfect excuse to get out of my routine in Switzerland and enjoy the Erasmus experience again.
After four years of studies, one of which was spent abroad in Germany, I decided that I was going to choose a university that offers classes I would genuinely enjoy instead of the usual “I’ll-take-the-least-boring-seminar.” I’m sure you can relate.
While I was looking at different universities in the UK, UEA stood out with its Creative Writing course. To be totally honest, I was a bit scared at first. Even though the module descriptions sounded appealing, they were also very different from what I’d done in the past, which was mostly analytic work in literature or linguistics.
Another highlight of UEA that helped me make my decision was the LCR: I was quite impressed by the number of artists that had performed there.
I can say for certain that I’m happy with my decision. I got out of my comfort zone and started exploring different means of content writing: blogging, journalism, interviewing, and even video editing. For instance, for a formative, I was put in the worst situation that mildly socially anxious me could imagine: I had to interview a professional – over the phone – about their field of expertise (integrated marketing) which I knew next to nothing about. It went well, for your information, except for the end part, when we were mutually thanking each other over and over again and I just said “Ok bye then” because the fifth time saying “thank you for your time” seemed excessive, even for British or Swiss politeness standards.
I have to say though, for a non-native speaker, the whole experience was intimidating and challenging at first: my fellow classmates, most of whom are locals, are intelligent, eloquent, and very passionate about what they’re doing. As a non-native speaker and newbie in the area, I was reluctant to show my writing, because well, it’s a personal piece of you you’re sharing. The atmosphere of my Creative Writing module definitely helped me in that process: the professors are open-minded and offer personal and constructive feedback which I really appreciate. Furthermore, this module is professional-oriented, allowing us students to interact with professionals and expand our network.
Concerning the campus, I was pleasantly surprised by how inclusive the university and campus seemed to be: the LGBTQ+ flag flying high on the top of a building, the “Never Ok” campaign, gender-neutral restrooms, events organised for ethnic minorities, etc… However, after a few months at UEA, my fellow friends from abroad, who are people of colour as well, and I have disappointingly noticed a lot of passive-aggressive racism: people being treated differently when they’re by themselves vs. when they’re with locals, comments about our ethnicity, street harassment – to name a few.
Finally, I couldn’t leave out the industrial action. It can sound a bit self-centred, but as I’m only here for one semester, a four-week strike is quite unfortunate, especially since I’m enjoying my modules so much.
Overall, I can proudly say that it has been an enriching few months for me, especially regarding my exploring of different means of content writing and finding one that I truly enjoy. I’d definitely recommend UEA for its Creative Writing course, the teaching staff are amazing, and so is the material that is taught. Even though the stressful summative season is coming up, I’m really looking forward to my last few months at UEA: I’ve been told about “Pimp My Barrow” and can’t wait to hang out by the lake when it gets warmer.