SCSU: Live and Study in a Castle! Alnwick, England

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About

The purpose of the British Studies Center in Alnwick, England is to give students an opportunity to spend a semester in a culture different from their own. The program is designed to expose students to new values, customs, and outlooks and to give them an understanding of life in Great Britain. By living within the walls of a medieval castle and study Great Britain both inside and outside the classroom, students gain a historical and contemporary perspective on British life. At the same time, students can make normal progress toward completion of their degree.

The British Studies Center in Alnwick is a branch campus of St. Cloud State University. All courses carry SCSU credit and you may earn credit towards your major, minor or general education program.

Students and faculty reside in Alnwick Castle. Dating from the middle ages, the castle is a large complex of towers, a chapel, a library and two museums. SCSU students and faculty occupy only a portion of the facility.

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Reviews

100%
based on 7 reviews
  • Academics 9
  • Support 9.3
  • Fun 10
  • Housing 9.9
  • Safety 9.9
Showing 1 - 7 of 7
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Claire
10/10

Don't Panic, It's Alnwick

This past semester has been the best 3 months of my life. I not only was able to travel to 8 different countries because of England's prime location, but I made lifelong friends. Yes, I know that sounds cliche but it's true! The unique thing about this program is that you literally eat, sleep, and go to school in a castle. Nothing makes you feel better than walking through the gated entrance of the castle you get to call your home as security unlocks the old wooden doors, making you feel like royalty. The only downside was that I never saw the Duke and Duchess who lived there with us! Although, we did get a private tour of their living quarters before the castle was open to the public...
The best thing this unique program has to offer is the fact that a St. Cloud State faculty member lives at the castle year-round, making your transition easier. He was always available for questions, travel advice, or just a friendly face who forced you into doing events within the community. My biggest fear about studying abroad was being thrown into a different country with no one there to help me. Having a faculty member there with us throughout the semester eased any worry I had and was a great resource.
The education piece of my study abroad experience was unique as well. Half of the classes offered were taught by British professors and the other half were taught by St. Cloud State professors who traveled to Alnwick with us. The British professors taught "British related'" classes whereas the SCSU teachers taught their own classes from back home. It was amazing to be able to intertwine both the British culture and the American culture in an educational experience. All of the teachers worked together to try and get different parts of their classes to correlate. We also only had class Monday through Thursday. Every Friday we took field trips to different parts of the country. We went as far north as Edinburgh, Scotland and as far south as York, England. Each field trip was its own unique experience, no two trips were ever the same. An extra day without class wasn't so bad either...
My favorite experience from studying abroad in Alnwick, England was going out to the local pubs and hanging out with the other students. Because Alnwick is a smaller town, every time we went out we were able to meet up with people we had previously met and made relationships that lasted long into the semester. Every time we went out we met someone new and someone old which made for a great experience. It made making friends really easy and really comfortable.
I am so glad I was able to study abroad as a freshman in college. I think it is something everyone should have the opportunity to do! This past semester gave me new experiences and submerged me in new cultures I never thought I would encounter. Alnwick will definitely see my face again one day!

How can this program be improved?
I think the biggest improvement for this program is in regards to communication. We got our flight information and itinerary only a few weeks before we were scheduled to leave. There was also a change in our departure date which we were not notified of. There were also multiple occasions where field trips or extra activities were scheduled with little to no time in advance so some students had to miss what was being planned. Overall, I think the program was very well run and I would definitely recommend to other students. Even with a program needing improvements, it is hard to complain about it seeing as we had the privilege of living in a castle and traveling the world.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Julia
10/10

Alnwick Experience

I absolutely fell in love with England and the freedom of traveling on this trip! We were given the opportunity to go on a field trip every Friday, where natives of the area helped us explore all of the beauty the United Kingdom has to offer. But what really stands out to me about this experience was how studying abroad changed me personally; I never before had realized how much was truly out there. I grew up in a very secluded, rural Mid-Western community, that handed me all of the comforts small town USA has to offer. I was always rather content with my safe, little town, hidden in a corner away from the rest of the world. I spent every night at the hometown football game, rooting on our boys and every Sunday at church with all of my next door neighbors. I was both blessed and cursed with the love and close-mindedness of a small town. But after I decided to study abroad on a whim, I discovered how much of the world I was really missing, and how different people from different cultures really make this world quite lovely. I suppose traveling and leaving my comfort zone in hopes of finding something a little more set a fire off inside of me; I am no longer content to sit back and watch the world pass before me: I want to be part of that world. I want to continue to discover, create, imagine, dream, and fall in love with the new places I go and the unique people I'll meet. If I attempted summarize my experience briefly I would say this: I finally learned how it feels to go with the wind, to disregard any previous inhibitions and just free fall, and I fell in love with England. If that in't the world's purest beauty, what is?

How can this program be improved?
This program could be giving students more notice in regards to changes in the program field trips, because it sometimes prohibited independent travel. However, this is such a unique program because it offers so much structured travel, so I'm still very grateful for the opportunity for these guided field trips.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Jennifer
10/10

One of the Best Experiences of My Life!

21 years after living in Alnwick Castle, some of my closest friends today are the people I lived with then. I changed my major as a result of living in the castle and am so happy that I did. I've been an Anglophile my whole life, so having this chance to live in an English castle was kind of like a fairy tale. And that was BEFORE Harry Potter and Downtown Abbey were filmed there and it's popularity exploded! Now it is even more of a destination to visit, and to say I lived there is priceless. A college study abroad program is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I think everyone should take advantage of if they can. I'm forever grateful for the friends and the memories I made during my time there.

How can this program be improved?
It's been 21 years since I lived there, so much has already been improved upon, like electric heat in the sleeping rooms. :-)
Yes, I recommend this program
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Jacob
10/10

I mean...You live in a CASTLE!

To say that this program is fantastic is an understatement. There are many programs out there that you can have the experience of studying in another country but where can you study and live in a castle? The price is also reasonable when it comes to studying abroad. Flights, Course Credits, Meals (Monday through Friday), Field Trips every Friday, Room and Board for all around $12,000! It is hard to find a program for that.

All of the people involved in this program in Alnwick are phenomenal. Wade, the resident coordinator, is always available to help the students and to make sure that everyone is enjoying their experience. Also the British Faculty are amazing. Christine is a walking history book and David really makes you think about your place in this world.

I think the best part about this program is that it is offered to any university student regardless if they go to St. Cloud State.

How can this program be improved?
More courses offered.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Will
10/10

Absolute best experience of my life

if you know anyone who has ever studied abroad, you have most likely heard them say that it was the best experience of their life.. Alnwick absolutely lives up to this in every way! Whether you are a history buff, a Harry Potter fanatic or just have an itch to travel, Alnwick has the perfect combination of all things wonderful!

With living in a castle, to weekly trips around the UK, to week long breaks to do your own adventures.. This program really does meet and exceeds everyone's desires. Highly highly recommend

How can this program be improved?
Technology could be improved
Yes, I recommend this program
Mamie
10/10

A Unique and Memorable Program

I would HIGHLY recommend this program to anyone who is interested in studying abroad. Yes, I'm a little biased as I went to Alnwick myself; however, the program really is that great. How many people can say they've lived in the Harry Potter castle?! The weekly field-trips allow you to explore all over England and Scotland, and because of them, you are able to see many aspects of the United Kingdom that you might miss out on if you attend a program in a bigger city. Speaking of bigger cities, there are many opportunities to visit larger areas (like the longer group trip to London, for example). Newcastle is great for shopping, visiting historical sites, or just a night out, and is only a short bus ride away. Edinburgh is also an awesome nearby destination--the train ride there is beautiful enough in itself to make the trip worth it. The Alnwick program also has time set aside for students to travel on their own, so you really get the full European experience. When you are in the town of Alnwick, you really become a part of the community. Instead of constantly being surrounded by fellow American students, you really immerse yourself in everything British. The townspeople are so welcoming and you quickly develop friendships that will last a lifetime. In all, Alnwick is an experience like no other. That being said, again, I highly recommend the program to anyone looking to have an adventure abroad.

Yes, I recommend this program
Photo of Anna Morris
Anna
10/10

How Alnwick Shaped My Life

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...

How can this program be improved?
Honestly, this program has been running for 30+ years. It runs like clockwork.
Yes, I recommend this program

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