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IFSA-Butler University of York
Institute for Study Abroad, Butler University Header Image Institute for Study Abroad, Butler University Header Image

IFSA-Butler University of York

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    5

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community

    9

The quintessential English experience

I chose to study abroad at the IFSA Butler program at the University of York because I wanted a smaller city that was more off the beaten path, where I would be able to live on campus and have an experience very similar to those of English university students. My home university also highly recommended IFSA programs because of the support they offer students and I certainly had a very positive experience with the Program Advisor in Indianapolis, who always responded promptly with answers to any questions that I had.
I was very excited to when I was accepted to the program, but I learned over the summer that I would be the only IFSA student in York, which made me considerably nervous. However, when I addressed my concerns with IFSA staff at orientation in London, they were very reassuring about the support they would be providing for me even though I would be essentially alone in York. One of the staff members dropped me off at my dorm and they were always very responsive to emails. Another staff member did come up to see me and take me to tea about halfway through the program. The one thing that was difficult about being so far from London was that it was very difficult to attend any of the IFSA events in London; IFSA would have paid for my train fare, but most of the events were held on weekdays and I would have had to find a place to stay overnight.
In York, I lived on campus in a flat. I had my own bedroom and bathroom and shared a kitchen with 15 other visiting students. The kitchen was rather small and only had four mini-fridges to store food in, which was slightly difficult considering that we had to make all of our own meals. Living with other visiting students helped with cultural exchange and culture shock, but did make it harder to make friends among the English students.
University of York is considered a very prestigious university and as such most classes are very large lectures. It is very difficult to get what would be considered good grades in the United States, although all of the professors in my department were required to hold office hours, which was very helpful.
The actual city of York was one of the best parts of my experience. It is a medieval city with so much history in it; I took a medieval literature class where everyone of the seven books we read had some connection to York and I got to go on a field trip to see the church of a family that commissioned one of the books. There are a ton of great restaurants and attractions in the city, including the best fish and chips, the York Minster, and the Jorvik Viking Center. The city center is also always putting on great events. There was a delicious food festival and the cutest Christmas market while I was there.
Overall, the IFSA program at the University of York was the perfect study abroad experience for me. I got to be in a really historic city and take really interesting classes; it felt like a very authentic English university experience. I ended up not needing much support with the IFSA staff, but I knew they were available if I had.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    8

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    9

Stepping Back in Time

I chose York as a way of going back to my origins: my family is historically from the part of England that was invaded by Vikings, and I knew that York was a part of that history. I never expected how deeply it would make an impact on me. I landed first in London and IFSA-Butler staff and students could not have been more like instant family. I did not know anyone going into the program, and I was a little worried about making friends since we were all going to different universities around England. But one of the London coordinators became like a second mom to me, and she took the train from London up to York several times throughout the year so we could have tea. IFSA took the best care of us, and never skipped out on making us feel welcome. The London staff organize a trip to the Lake District each semester, and we stayed in the most luxurious yet simple accommodation at the base of a mountain. Waking up every morning with a full English breakfast and in the middle of misty mountains was a feeling that my heart will never forget. We spend our days in the Lake District retreat doing adventure activities, which I chose to do via ferrata, kayaking, and ghyll scrambling (an northern English word for climbing up waterfalls)!

The university may be in a smaller city, but the university is large and has tons of stuff to get involved with. I did Model UN and Scandinavian Society. The entire city feels like a castle because the stone city walls still surround the old city border, and the streets are cobblestone. My favorite time of year was seeing the city around Christmas time. No city does Christmas better than York, with mulled wine carts and old English traditions. My friends from my time there are some of the deepest bonds I've ever had with people, and I now have friends from all over the world including France, Denmark, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Northern Ireland. I'm already planning a trip back to York to see them, and some of them are planning trips to visit me. Studying with IFSA Butler opened up professional opportunities I never would have had otherwise, and I could not be more grateful for my experience.

The one word of warning I would say is that the insurance that IFSA Butler makes you buy does not cover medical expenses in Iceland, and I unfortunately had a medical crisis arise while traveling in Iceland so that was an unanticipated and very costly event.