As someone who incredibly passionate about their subject, I took every opportunity to deepen my knowledge of the subject. As a result, I have been to a few summer schools from which I have learnt more or I got a feel of new sides of Politics that I did not know of before.
Looking at it retrospectively, I can attest that from some summer schools you learn more than from others, but I think that overall the experience is worth it. As with all things in life, you get as much as you give. The more effort you put in into learning and preparing, the more you get out of it.
The environment in a summer school is very different. It depends on the country you are in and how their system is structured. You may have more lectures or more seminars, and it ranges from more formal to more relaxed and laid back.
My experience has been really positive. I have found going to summer schools really beneficial, especially when you want to polish a skill, such as doing more work on data analysis or learning new concepts. I think this is where the difference and benefits lie. You get to go in depth in an area you are not familiar to or do more on a side you are deeply passionate about. Many of these opportunities are funded, and you can apply for bursaries or scholarships. I see it as the perfect mix between work and leisure, as you get to travel and study at the same time.
Among my favourite schools is the Study China Programme which I went to in the Spring Break. Not really a summer school, more like a spring school, I spent 3 weeks learning Mandarin in Shanghai, China. I loved it. It was a language programme, which I have not been to before, and immediately realised what I missed. Every minute of the day spent in Shanghai was amazing. Learning a language in a country in which you get to practice it every day is very different compared to how I learnt English and French. It has opened my eyes to how immersion works. Mastering Mandarin is not easy feat and I don’t claim to have done it, but I did practice more than I would have had, if I studied in Sheffield.
The lesson I learnt from summer school is to be bold. Go out there and take the risk, apply yourself to things you do not think you are very good at in order to learn and better yourself. Travelling and studying should not crossed off anyone’s list, so go for one of those summer schools. You can find more about the available summer schools on the university webpage, pick one and go for it!