Students are assigned an academic advisor within their departments that they can get in touch with whenever they have questions during the term.
When a British student attends university, they have already selected their area of study, "a course", which they will follow for the next three to four years. The course schedule/timetable is preplanned and does not often contain the various options and electives which a CSU student enjoys. Most of the courses meet once a week for the semester (i.e., 3 hour course will meet twice a week) 300 hours per year is the minimum for IP students. A group of students in a given course share the same or similar lecture schedule for their whole university life. It's an in-depth, specialized program. CSU students appear to "drop in" to various courses of study, which confuses the British students and university faculty somewhat. A CSU course of study will never fall neatly into one course here. It may seem baffling to have to choose classes here at first. The most important thing is not to get hung up on the IP course listings. Scheduling can be a problem if classes are not all in the same subject and same year as each course is only offered at one time. The staff here will go out of their way to insure that they are giving you an integrated and cohesive schedule which will apply to your CSU course of study. Business students be prepared to journey 30 minutes to the management center and pay daily bus fare (£2.00 roundtrip).
One of the first things a CSU student observes is the lack of assigned "textbooks." Students are given recommended reading lists which are used more as references for specific topics. Don't misinterpret this; reading is of great importance and students are encouraged to read heavily. It is not supervised and requires self-motivation in order to gain the most benefit. Choose books that cover a wide range of topics covered in class. Engineering/Business students, on the other hand, do have assigned textbooks and will know exactly which book(s) to buy for each class. Some classes require none, most require just one. Engineering texts are much cheaper here than back home. The more read-up and knowledgeable you become in your studies, the better off you will be when it comes to essays and exams. These two methods of assessment are the most commonly used here. Usually one essay per class per term is assigned (be prepared to ask questions regarding essay formats, titles, and due dates as these are not always announced in class). It is best to get your essays done early so your holidays will be free from worry and work. Be prepared to take 10+ hours a week of classes and seminars. (Engineers - 15+, with laboratories as well). However, your exams are after the break, so be prepared to study over the break. And be prepared to ask lots of questions about essay formats, examination regulations, essay titles, due dates, technical report formats, etc. Sources of information - IVSP, course department offices, department bulletin boards, class tutors, personal tutors, teachers, etc. Exams are reserved for the end of the semester and are comprehensive. Most exams are essay format. This is a difference with the CSU system, where it is possible to assess your grade as the class progresses. Feedback in terms of letter grades is limited. This may leave you unsure of class standing during the year, but do not fear, the professors are concerned and helpful. They want you to receive the best education possible and will be quite helpful. This is especially true as exams draw near. It is important to realize that the key is self-motivation. Don't be intimidated by your professors, they are more than happy to help you.
Engineers might need to take a mixture of 1st, 2nd and 3rd year classes. You'll be assigned a personal tutor who will be very helpful. Business students might need to take a mixture of 2nd and 3rd year classes as well. Don't worry though, they transfer as junior and senior classes.
The Mechanical Engineering Department has adopted a semester system, similar to that used in the U.S., where exams take place at the end of each term. Make sure you ask for the detailed class descriptions from OIP or University of Bradford Mechanical Engineering Department. Your advisor will need these descriptions in order to recommend equivalent classes.
To get the best out of your education here at Bradford, you must be prepared to adapt. The system is different. The sooner this is understood and accepted, the more comfortable and productive you will be. The overall academic experience is invaluable. Don't be intimidated because you think your academic background might be inadequate, British students are pretty much like us.
The university has several types of accommodation available to CSU students; self-catered halls, student houses and privately owned flats. The university will send you a brochure describing these options with the housing application form. Request Trinity Hall, as it has the most modern facilities. Dennis Bellamy Hall was renovated during Summer 2007, so all the rooms, furniture, and facilities are new. Longside, Kirkstone, and Shearbridge Green are all self-catered accommodations on-campus. Community kitchens are provided for students to prepare their own meals. There are microwaves and the residents must supply their own plates and eating utensils. Grocery shopping should not be a major concern as almost anything available at home is available here, but brands may be different. There are several good supermarkets and regular markets as well as family-run corner shops within walking distance. Student houses are also off-campus and similar to self-catered halls. Private residences are available but not recommended as we found living conditions in them lacking. Trinity Hall, also self-catered, is a recently built residence located off campus. This is definitely the most preferred hall with the most modern conveniences and great security. Trinity B and C do not have any elevators, so be prepared to climb flights of stairs if your flat is not on the ground floor. Cooking meals in a communal kitchen is a terrific way to meet and socialize with British students. Being closer to campus is also appreciated during the cold winter!
The halls of residence provide bedding and pillows for a price, which you can pick up upon arrival. It's a bit more expensive but worth it as you don't have to spend your first couple of days searching for it in town.
Money and Money Management (Top)
Have your money electronically transferred. Checks in U.S. dollars take a minimum of 28 working days to clear. This is most important: Have your financial aid completely squared away before you leave-no matter what. Know exactly how much you will be receiving and when it will be disbursed, because any difficulties will take time to sort out. When you arrive, be sure to bring £600 in cash as it is difficult to look for TC exchange when you are distracted by more important things (traveler's checks are hard to change in Bradford). This will help tide you over until your bank accounts are established. If you arrive on the weekend, exchanging money will be impossible. We used ours as "pocket" money on our journey to Bradford.
Be aware that transferring money from the US is expensive and DO NOT BRING A PERSONAL CHECK. Most local banks charge $8 for each deposit or exchange of foreign currency. If possible exchange the bulk of your dollars for pounds before you transfer it to England. Otherwise you will be charged a conversion fee by the bank. International money orders cost $8 (free from bank at home) and clear within four days. Each money order can be up to £1800.
The best time to transfer the bulk of your money is when you open your account. This is one of the first things to sort out. There are a variety of banks close to campus-NatWest, Lloyds, Barclays or HSBC. Each of these provides an automatic teller machine (cash-point). Checking accounts are easy to get. The student ATM cards have a check guarantee of up to £50. You will probably find the bank personnel very friendly and very student oriented. Shop around to find the bank best suited to your needs. Another option is to get traveler's checks from Thomas Cook at home; they have offices here and won't charge certain fees.
Something that might be helpful to know for students who are wary of transferring a lot of money to a new account is that Barclays and Bank of America (along with a few other European banks called the Global Alliance) have an agreement where neither Bank of America or Barclays will charge for pulling money out of a Barclay’s ATM. The walk is a bit farther than some of the other banks though. In addition, if you are traveling abroad during your vacations, the BNP Paribas in Paris and Deutsche Bank (Germany, Poland, and select areas in Spain) are also participants, where you can enjoy commission-free exchange as long as you have a BofA ATM card:
However, once there is enough money in a local bank, it is usually free of charge to withdraw from any ATM in the United Kingdom, regardless of the bank.
Bradford is one of the least expensive cities in which to live
in England, but that doesn't meant it won't seem expensive in the beginning.
You will find that opportunities and extras will arise which are not particularly
expensive but will add up. Spending money is a matter of personal choice.
You are the one who knows best your resources and spending habits. Try
to follow a budget if possible. Make liberal allowances for traveling both
for vacations and weekends. Bradford is well located within weekend trip
distance of a number of beautiful and worthwhile places to visit. You will
be amazed at the number of travel opportunities presented to you! Bring
a map of the UK to help orient yourself.
Budget some mad-money for the initial expenses of setting up your room and making it livable. Try not to buy everything at once. Give yourself time to adjust to exchange rates and prices so that you can get the best value for your money.
Overseas calls-you should arrange beforehand a deal on international phone calling from England to home. Talk to your local phone company for details. The U.S. companies offer calling cards which bill your home addresses with U.S. rates. Using British Telecom is expensive when phoning the U.S. AT&T offers a deal of 14¢ a minute from the U.S. to the U.K. There are calling cards offered in the U.K. that are really cheap. Check corner shops for details. There are several Carphone Warehouse stores located in Bradford and around the UK. You can get a pay-as-you-go plan there, where calling the US is around 10¢ a minute.
Many students recommend getting a webcam and Skype to communicate with people from home. It is free for internet-internet conversation, and only 2 US cents per minute to call a land-line. You have the ability for a face to face conversation.
Postage is expensive but plan to spend the money. You won't get letters unless you write them!! It is costly to mail packages, either to or from England. You will most likely want to ship one or two packages home at the end of the year. It is more expensive to send packages back to the U.S. than to send them to the U.K. (about 1 1/2 times more expensive - 25 lb. package costs £25). Mail between the U.S. and the U.K. takes five to ten days to deliver. Packages, naturally, take longer. Some first class air mail has taken 21 days or longer to reach home, so if you need someone to receive something in a hurry, the British Royal Mail offers Swiftair which guarantees delivery in four days. If you plan to send cards or gifts home for Christmas, they should be mailed by the first week of December for air mail or early November if mailed surface.
The local university post office staff is very friendly and helpful as they are used to dealing with foreign students. Distribute your hall (dorm) address before you leave if you can, as the value of receiving mail cannot be too greatly exaggerated! You might not know which block but you should know the mailing address, including room number, before leaving, but this doesn't matter, the accommodation office has mailboxes by last name (A-Z) for each hall, so your name and hall is enough information with the university address, of course, to get post.
IP students are provided with free medical treatment under the U.K. National Health Service. Free services are provided by the medic of your choice, or at the Student Health Centre on campus. The cost of prescriptions is fixed by the NHS as well. It is important to know the drugs in the prescriptions you use regularly, since brand or trade names are different here. If you wear glasses, bring a copy of your prescription from home.
There are various types of transportation in Bradford, all of which are inexpensive and efficient. These include the bus, train, and taxi. The transit systems are functional and easy to learn. The bus schedule is not so easy to figure out; especially in London, where what looks like north on a map is considered west. The common form of local transportation is walking as distances are not so great between the university and the city centre. Expect hills! Local buses are available and operate regularly. Taxis are reasonably priced as well. Beware, some taxis may try to rip you off as you are foreign; check for meters and ask the prices of fares. For long distance travel, buses are much cheaper than trains; however, student discounts also make rail travel reasonable (see section on travel).
Most religious denominations offer services and pubs! However, there are no Jewish temples. You will find the services of local houses of worship tailored to students and fairly casual. A comprehensive list of places of worship is given in the Students' Union Handbook, which you will receive after your arrival in Bradford during registration. The new student and freshman orientation will provide you with more detailed information on other services in the area.
Entertainment and Recreation (Top)
The university provides on-campus entertainment. There are at least two films and a concert each week, and a dance every Friday. There are numerous clubs and societies which cater to many interests and plan social events and occasions and the majority of students do get involved. You will find out about all the clubs and societies available at the club fair during Freshman Orientation week.
If you feel the need to get out of Bradford to a bigger city, Leeds is a 45-minute bus ride away. You will find countless shopping centers, big buildings, and clubs there.
Pubs are the usual way to begin the evening. Unlike most U.S. bars, British pubs are normally light, cheery places to socialize and chat. While hard liquor is available, beer (ale, bitter, lager) is the standard fare; mixed drinks or cocktails are rare, except at wine bars. Pub hours are usually 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. during the week; Sunday hours are different. The campus has two pubs and there are several more in the area. If you wish to carry on after the pubs close, there are several local student oriented nightclubs open for dancing and drinking until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. Two Bradford student traditions are pub crawls and late night trips to the local curry houses, both of which require a strong constitution.
Off-campus entertainment includes museums, art galleries, symphonies, theatre, and films, all within easy access and most offering student discounts. Two of the most notable are the National Museum of Photography with an IMAX screen, Film and Television and the Alhambra Theatre for live performances. The shows here are high quality, get exposed to British culture in the theatres as soon as you can!
For those interested in sports, there are plenty of opportunities for physical activity. The university sports center offers facilities such as aerobics classes, weight room, swimming pool, sauna, gym, badminton court and several squash courts. Outdoor sports such as soccer, rugby, cricket, etc., are off-campus. The selection is so diverse that even hang-gliding and parachuting are catered to. The sports have clubs to join instead of "school" teams. It costs £50 for membership for the entire school year. Once you are a member, there is no limit to how many sports societies you join. The membership can pay for itself, as away-trips are either mostly or entirely funded by the school.
The emphasis is on enjoyment as well as competition. In most sports, students have played at least a couple of years before university; however, there is no need to be embarrassed to join a club to learn something new since they are usually patient and willing to teach.
If you have an instrument, there are two practice rooms available and there are a few music groups (choir, orchestra, jazz) that are open to students.
Physical Climate (Top)
The weather is very unpredictable; it can change from hour to hour. When you arrive, you may get lucky enough to have a short-sleeve day or two, and probably there will be some again before you leave in the summer. From about November on though, it gets colder and colder. January and February hover pretty close to 0° Celsius, with a little snow here and there. It rains a lot. However, the rain tends to be more of a mist most times, usually accompanied by a cold, howling, strong wind (sometimes hurricane force). There are more sunny days than expected although these are usually the coldest crisp days. In fact a famous Englishman once said, "The only thing between Bradford and the North Pole is a barbed wire fence." Suffice to say, it is very cold here, but you can deal with it. We cannot emphasize enough the necessity to layer your clothing. English classrooms and shops are usually warm relative to the outside temperatures. Bring wool sweaters and turtlenecks! You may not even touch them in California, but you will be so grateful for them in Bradford. A long winter coat is also a necessity, though you can buy one here for a reasonable price and it fits well with local climate.
Vacation and Travel (Top)
Despite the demands of your academic program, you will be able to find sufficient time for travel. Always keep in mind that an integral part of your experience here extends beyond the university. Traveling and meeting people from a world remote from yours are tremendous learning experiences not found in any classroom. Surrounding Bradford are the beautiful moors and dales of Yorkshire and the picturesque Lake District is within easy reach. The Hiking Club organizes a weekend hike in the Lake District, where you can hike up the highest mountain in England. One can easily fit short trips to York or Leeds within the space of a day. Beyond the immediate vicinity are all the places of interest that one usually associates with the United Kingdom. We cannot overemphasize the importance of these adventures and the need to budget sufficiently for them. There is a program called HOST in which a British family volunteers to take in a foreign student for the weekend. This is a wonderful way to witness real British life and culture, and the only cost is that of transportation to the family's home. Details are at the Student Union Welfare Office.
Student discounts offer economical travel for students. Accommodations as well as transportation can be reasonable. Purchase an Eurail pass before departing if you plan to travel on the Continent during the Christmas break. The Eurail Pass is a questionable investment. Unless you plan to spend your entire vacation on a train it will probably not pay for itself. More specifically, students spending more than a week and visiting more than three or four destinations will most likely find the Eurail pass a good investment for both finances and time. Check www.raileurope.com for fares between destinations. Also, contrary to popular belief, it is not universally accepted on all rail systems in Europe. Consult Let's Go Europe. Also, when arriving in England, the coach is a cheaper and more convenient method of getting to Bradford and it leaves directly from both Heathrow and Gatwick. Coach: may take longer, but pick up at the airport and there are no connections. Train: Faster, more expensive. Be prepared to use the tube. Check train times on www.britrail.com. Depending on the coach, it may also be faster than the train. For travel within Britain, a student rail card or a student coach card may be purchased upon arrival in Bradford. Open your bank account before buying either card, for some banks will give you incentives such as vouchers for a free rail or coach card. It would be helpful to purchase Let's Go Europe, Let's Go Britain, and Europe on $25 a Day before you leave. There is a travel agency on campus which is quite helpful and friendly. You can purchase a youth hostel card here that will allow you to spend the night almost anywhere for less than $15 (London $30). Bed and breakfasts are also great places to stay as they are often less expensive than hostels. Owners are usually friendly, can give great advice on what to see, and more private than youth hostels. You may also want to check into hiring a car as this allows you the freedom to explore areas around Bradford which are difficult by bus or train. Some car rental companies offer inexpensive standby rates though petrol is expensive (you must be 21 or older for these rates). Passport photo booths are located in many places here (four photos for £4.00), if you need additional photos after you arrive.
Discount carriers such as RyanAir may seem like wonderful deals, and in fact some of the flights are; however, students should be aware that many times the planes fly into airports that are not too close to the destination they had in mind. The costs and inconvenience of making your way to the main city is sometimes more than the costs of taking another carrier to the main airport. For example: the RyanAir airport for Barcelona is actually in Girona. The bus can be taken roundtrip from the airport to Barcelona for 21 euros and an hour of your time.
General Tips (Top)
What to Bring
What Not To Bring
Wardrobe Selection. Clothing in Bradford seemed more expensive than in California and you will probably want clothes from England and other places you visit. You can find some wonderful bargains if you shop carefully, especially during the January sales.
Sending your belongings. A very good idea is shipping bulky clothes (i.e., sweaters, coats, bulky clothes, plastic plate, bowl, cups, 2 forks, knives and spoons unless you plan on buying those items; camping gear not needed until summer) by fourth class mail at least six to eight weeks before you leave, addressed:
c/o International Visiting Students' Programme (IVSP)
University of Bradford
Bradford West Yorkshire BD7 lDP
England, The United Kingdom
If you can afford to, send as much as you can beforehand, because dragging baggage through the transportation system is hellish-there are lots of stairs and escalators that do not seem to work.
Arriving in Britain (Top)
If you fly into London, you'll have to take a train to Bradford. There are different ways to get to the train station (bus, train, tube). There are information desks in the airport where you should go ask for help and information. Don't be shy.
We think that it's definitely a better idea to fly into Manchester rather than London. Flying into Manchester gets you to Bradford by midday and is twenty times less stressful than flying into London and trying to figure out the tube and the trains. It's also much less expensive overall and saves a lot of time. A flight to Manchester may cost about $50 more, but trying to get to Bradford from London usually eats up any of the savings. And like I said, it's a relatively stress-free hour and a half on the train, direct from the airport rather than the four hours it would take you to get to Bradford from London, through the tube, to Kings Cross and then the three hour train ride to Bradford. From Manchester Airport, the university can pick you up and take you directly to your accommodation free of charge. You will have to email the university ahead of time so that they would know when you will arrive. Details will be sent to you in time. Another option is to fly directly into Leeds/Bradford via Amsterdam on KLM. Avoid flying into London if you can! All the students this year were completely unprepared for that kind of a journey (as they had no idea what they were getting themselves into) and when they arrived, they were completely exhausted. It wasn't a pretty sight and it's stressful enough without traveling 10 hours on a plane and then four more to get to Bradford. So, fly into Manchester and take the hour and a half train ride to Bradford. Then, take a taxi to your residence, since you'll already know the name of your residence. Taxis are readily available and not too expensive since you won't have far to go. Ask before getting in about how much it will be just to be sure.
Cultural Adjustment (Top)
One of the most important things to remember is that you will be living in England, not just visiting. You're not a tourist! Above all, you should be emotionally prepared to spend a year independent of family and friends (especially boyfriends and girlfriends). In the past this has been a problem with a few of the IP participants. It is not fair to the people who did not get accepted if those who get to come to the U.K. leave for home in the middle of the year. Just be sure you are ready to make new friends this year and then return to the old friends next year.
If you want to fit in with and be accepted by other students, try to live in Bradford their way and leave your American idiosyncrasies at home! To understand this better, think of the foreign students you have seen or been acquainted with at your home university. Some preferring their native way of life to American life, or simply being unable to adapt to American life, stand out like a sore thumb and tend to socialize only with fellow countrymen. This does not mean that you should throw off all of your American traits; after all, they are a part of your personality. What it does mean is that you should not go around waving the flag and saying how much better things are at home. Don't go around saying, "Oh, you do things like that?! Well in America we do it like this." Don't compare Britain to the U.S.-you will sound like an arrogant American feeding the stereotype. Remember, you can always hang out with Americans after your return to the U.S., but you have the fantastic opportunity of living among the English for a whole year. Prepare for California stereotypes; when you tell someone that you're from California, they're likely to ask (in a slightly incredulous tone of voice), "why did you choose Bradford!?"
Also remember that being American is not a guarantee of you being accepted by the English students. In fact, it could be a bit to your disadvantage, but only if you flaunt it. The key to good communication is an open mind. Try not to immediately reject any customs or ideas of the English students. You may be surprised how, after a while, those same customs and ideas seem perfectly normal. Listen to what people say about the U.S. and don't take offense.
Look at your upcoming experience for what it is: a rare opportunity to live within a different culture from your own, an opportunity which few people in the world get. The best advice we can give is to be yourself and have a great time. It can hardly help but be one of the best, most rewarding times in your life.
Addresses and Telephone Numbers (Top)
The university address is:
University of Bradford
West Yorkshire BD7 1DP
The United Kingdom
Telephone: (01274) 232323 (+ 44 1274 if calling from the States) (between 0900 and 1700 hours British time, Monday - Friday).
Emergency phone number: Bradford 233209 available between 0900 and 1700 hours (British time) Monday to Friday.
PLEASE LEAVE THESE NUMBERS WITH FAMILY: THEY SHOULD BE UTILIZED ONLY IN CASES OF EMERGENCY. It will not be possible to connect directly with students on these lines, but a message will be given to the student as quickly as possible. All direct communications should be through the appropriate residence. You may wish to furnish your family with the necessary information regarding your residence to facilitate such contact. Do not hesitate to use any of these numbers if you encounter any difficulties during your travel to Bradford.
Student Comments (Top)
Be prepared to get a different view of the American foreign policy. Listen and try to understand that there is something else in the world other than the "American way of life." If you do that, you may be able to look at your own country for the first time from a "non-American" perspective and you will find out some surprising things!"
Updated 1/30/08 DP