In the course of our bachelor’s degree at the Rhein-Main University of Cooperative Education, we had the opportunity to spend one of the theoretical stages at a partner institution in the form of a foreign exchange. For me and other trainees, this is usually a very special experience. I met with a colleague from Marketing. I told her about my time at New College in Durham in a brief interview.
Stefan, you had the opportunity to spend a term abroad as part of your studies. When did you do that?
I spent my eighth theoretical stage at New College in Durham.
Could you tell us a little about the college and the lectures there?
The city of Durham is located in North East England, approximately 30 km south of Newcastle upon Tyne. Durham has a population of around 65,000 and is mainly known for its university. Alongside foundation degrees – which roughly equate to German high school leavers’ qualifications – New College also offers a bachelor’s course in Business and Management. I had the opportunity to choose from various lectures on this course and eventually enrolled for International Business and Marketing. This course touched upon various topics that are relevant for companies with business interests in foreign countries. The course contents included international market research, intercultural communication, international marketing and market entry strategies, to name a few examples.
Did you identify any differences between your time at a college in the UK and your BA degree in Germany?
In the UK, a great deal of emphasis is placed on interactive and practically oriented learning. So in the first half of the lecture, for example, the theoretical basis for the focal topic was explained by the tutor. And in the second half, this was then practically applied to case studies in the form of group exercises. To my mind, this is very nice way of structuring lectures.
Tell us a bit about your experiences with the locals!
I gained a good insight into British culture alongside the academic aspects of my term abroad. Regional cultures in the four nations can sometimes differ considerably, but I would generally say that the Brits I came into contact with were very open-minded and friendly. They also attach great importance to their traditions.
What did you get up to in your spare time?
I used my spare time to explore my host country, establish contact with the locals and watch one or two football matches. Apart from Newcastle and the surrounding area, I also made it to the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, and Greater Manchester. With its picturesque Old Town and historic buildings, Edinburgh is definitely worth a visit. My personal highlight was Edinburgh Castle at the top of the Royal Mile, which has more of the character of a medieval village than the archetypal fortress. On the other hand, I found Manchester to be a very modern and cosmopolitan city. Aside from my city trips, I made good on a few chances to support the “lads” of Newcastle United in their ultimately unsuccessful fight against relegation.
How would you sum up your term abroad?
Even if the weather was somewhat stormy at times due to the proximity to the North Sea, my time spent abroad was very enjoyable in both an academic and a personal sense.