The program that St. Cloud State University runs is unlike any other experience on the market. As students, we lived and studied in the Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, England. SCSU is the only university with a lease agreement with the Duke & Duchess of Northumberland (the Percy family) so it's truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! Every semester (Fall, Spring, Summer) two different SCSU faculty travel with the group to teach major-specific courses. In addition, there are two British faculty that teach cultural courses. I completed 12 credits during the summer session. 6 credits counted towards my major(s) requirements and the remaining 6 credits applied towards my Generals.
Aside from the academic benefits, there are also endless immersion opportunities. Because we are the only exchange students in the fairly small town, we were able to get to know the locals quite well! Alnwick is an extremely welcoming city and as long as you and your fellow students are respectful, there will be no issues. It's a place where you feel like home after just a couple of weeks. There are plenty of places to eat, shop and experience the nightlife scene.
I volunteered at the local radio station as I was a Broadcast Journalism major. Gaining on-air experience abroad was a huge value-add to my resume. I produced a show along with two other guys on my program. We had a blast playing our favorite music, talking about our daily experiences, responding to listeners and operating the equipment. Our 4-hour once a week block quickly became a highlight of my summer.
Day to day, we had class all day Monday - Thursday with breaks to work on homework and group projects. Every Friday there was a field trip led by one of our British faculty. We had our weekends free to travel -- and there was a week-long holiday break in the middle of the term, too. I made it to Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam, London and other cities all over England during our free time. Newcastle is about a 30 minute bus ride away so there's easy access to a metropolitan area.
This program is open to non-SCSU students so I'd highly recommend checking it out! Oh, I forgot to mention that this castle is affectionately known as Hogwarts as Harry's first broom ride was filmed in the outer Bailey. Who else can say that they ACTUALLY lived inside Hogwarts?! The Chamber of Secrets has yet to be found...