Student Stories

Rachel Maniloff

Rachel Maniloff

BSILR '15

Exchange Student

Warwick, UK, Spring 2014

Packing
What were the most useful things you packed, and what do you recommend to leave behind?
Pack rainboots and a raincoat! Also pack lots of layers--you'll be grateful when you have to spend weeks traveling on only one suitcase! Leave behind formal clothes.

Transportation
How did you get from the airport to the university and around town? How much does it cost?

National express bus from Heathrow to Coventry (£20) and then either take an overpriced taxi to campus or take one of the local buses (routes 11, 12).

Information
What were the most reliable sources of information for cultural events, news, travel, weather?
Warwick sends you tons of emails about on-campus events so you’ll know about everything!

Money
Were there ATM machines nearby? Was it easy to withdraw cash?
Barclay’s has an ATM on campus. My best advice is to get a Charles Schwab checking account and debit card because Schwab provides unlimited ATM/international fee reimbursement – I saved hundreds of dollars because I could go to ATMs whenever I wanted without worrying about fees.

Can you compare the costs of living abroad versus costs of staying on campus. What were the cost differences? What was the most expensive item or the least expensive item?
Pack peanut butter from home because British peanut butter is different and American brands are expensive. Otherwise, groceries are either equal or only a bit more expensive than at home. It sounds odd but most students carry their rolling suitcases to Tesco (supermarket) because it’s much easier than carrying the bags home by hand.

Dorms or off-campus living
What dorm would you recommend to future students? Why?
The nicest dorms (but also the most expensive dorms) are Arthur Vick and Jack Martin. Heronbank and Lakeside are the farthest from campus. Every other dorm is conveniently located.

Campus Life
What were orientation & field trip events like?
The abroad office hosts trips around the UK on weekends and I recommend going on them. National Express and Megabus also have affordable buses from Coventry to major cities around the UK so if you can’t make the campus trips, there are other ways to explore the UK.

What were your favorite places to hang out?
My favorite on-campus restaurant was The Bread Oven and most people hang out in their dorm’s kitchens. Only one dorm has traditional common rooms so people also spend time in the Student Union building; it has multiple restaurants.

What were your favorite extracurricular activities?
I am involved with Concert Commission at Cornell so I joined the Warwick indie-rock music appreciation club, Offbeat. The members were very welcoming and they hosted some really fun activities!

Travel
Name one interesting place you visited and tell us what you liked about it.
I was lucky enough to see 16 cities in 9 different countries – try to travel as much as possible! Book flights early because it gets more expensive the longer you wait. My favorite cities were Paris, Prague, Florence and Rome.

Communication & Computers
Was Wi-Fi available in the dorms and on campus or off-campus where you stayed?
I heard that wifi in my dorm (new Rootes) wasn’t great but the room comes with an ethernet cable and I never had any problems with wifi on campus or on my dorm.

What was the nature of your communications with the exchange program coordinator? In what way was it supportive?
The exchange program coordinators gave us a lot of information at the beginning of the semester. They went over how to change classes, what cool towns are near Coventry and the schedule of trips they host around the UK.

What was the check-in process like at the international students office?
When I arrived at night I got my room keys from Senate House and was on my own to find my dorm and unpack. On the first day of classes all of the international students had a short informational meeting.

Courses
What was your favorite course? What did you like about it?
I really enjoyed the International and European Labour Relations class – it was a very ILR class! I also enjoyed the class “Ethical Issues & Social Responsibility in Contemporary Business.”

What helped you stay focused in an academic environment where you are mostly self-driven?
There is significantly less day-to-day work at Warwick than at Cornell but make sure you start your final papers early so you can travel at the end of the semester and not have to write essays in your hostel while in some amazing European city!

How did you organize your course materials for review by the ILR faculty committee?
All of the modules I took were preapproved by ILR so I did not have to go through that process.

What did you like the least about your exchange program experience, and suggest ways for improvement.
I wish Warwick had more course options – there were only about 7 courses we could choose from and as a result, all of the exchange students were in the same classes. Unfortunately, only one of my classes had a majority of British students.

Work
Did you work while on exchange? if so where, what did you do, and what was it like to work in another culture?
I did not get a job because if you want to work, you have to get a working visa and that costs a lot of money as opposed to the free student visa.

Networking
Tell us about your networking experiences and how this has helped you.
I met other exchange students from so many other countries and I even was able to stay with one friend when I visited her hometown.

Health & Safety
What health and safety issues did you encounter, if any? How did you resolve it?
Luckily, I didn't get seriously sick at all throughout my semester, but there is a health office on campus. The campus is well lit and never felt unsafe walking around at night.

Other
Is there anything else you would like to share with prospective ILR exchange students and the ILR community, which we haven't asked?
Download the free phone app "Trip Advisor City Guides" and when you have wifi, download maps of the cities you plan on visiting. Then when you're there, you can look at the map without needing any internet.

- Rachel Maniloff, BSILR '15