Paul Lütge recounts his experiences as a Berliner in the Midlands.
Coventry, what’s that? I could read the confusion in my friends’ faces when I first told them about the place where I was going to live and study for my year abroad. The University of Warwick and its closest city Coventry are quite unknown outside the UK. As I came to this place from Berlin, one of the biggest cities in Europe, the contrasts couldn’t be stronger.
To start an ordinary day in Berlin, I usually had to wake up early as it took me over one hour just to get to the university. Even if trains and tubes arrived on time, no one would care about my punctual appearance at the uni since seminars and lectures are overcrowded and anonymous. There is no mandatory attendance at all, hence I mostly stayed at home and studied there – or continued sleeping.
As I came to this place from Berlin… the contrasts couldn’t be stronger
In Warwick, it takes me 10 minutes to get to the uni with a bike. Instead of overcrowded classes, tutors teach in small seminar groups. Awkward silence when discussing readings no one ever heard of are inevitable. It strikes the eye of a tutor if you’re absent since attendance is mandatory.
But of course, academia is only one, maybe rather small part of my exchange experience here in Warwick. Coming from Berlin, I have to admit that I was quite spoiled in terms of lifestyle opportunities: partying in some of the most famous clubs of the world, strolling around picturesque parks or visiting hipster galleries – all this seemed usual to me. Warwick cannot compete with all of that, but also has its advantages. The student community seems much stronger here because of all the societies and events that we can get involved it. Students feel associated with the university and spend their free time here. Thanks to the Terrace Bar or the Dirty Duck, you can almost find me 24/7 on campus, even if not studying.
Awkward silence when discussing readings no one ever heard of are inevitable
Speaking about the night life, there are plenty of further differences. In Berlin, students usually go out at 3am and stay in big techno clubs until the sun rises – or even longer. Here in England, partying starts at 10pm and ends for many Freshers just shortly after midnight since some of them have to pay a visit to the hospital afterwards. When going partying in Coventry or Leamington, you certainly meet someone that you know from the university, in contrast to Berlin, where you mostly stay anonymous in the crowd. In Coventry, wasted Freshers are shaking their sweaty hips and heads to the newest David Guetta Rihanna Sean Paul DJ super mix, whereas in Berlin, almost everyone parties to deep techno beats.
However, being an exchange student in Coventry offers many party possibilities I haven’t imagined before. By living in an off-campus accommodation with five great housemates and most other exchange students nearby, house parties almost occur on a weekly basis. I hereby also discovered my new favorite drink: cheap apple cider, preferably out of big bottles that are available in every supermarket. There were many things I was looking forward to before coming to the University of Warwick: meeting fascinating people, having great night outs, and yes, I even imagined lectures and seminars to be quite interesting and fulfilling.
I hereby also discovered my new favourite drink: cheap apple cider
Most of my expectations came true so far, just sometimes a bit different as expected. Now and then I miss the big city life, but London is just a stone’s throw away. From small seminar groups to big cider bottles – Warwick is a place full of contrasts, totally different to my previous uni experiences, but definitely worth it.