Should you do Horizons in First Year?

Dieses Jahr habe ich Deutsch gelernt!
I successfully completed my German Horizons course last week!

Imperial’s Horizons programme provides optional, free of charge, extra-curricular courses for undergrad students. The classes for all courses are two-hours long and take place once a week on campus. Mine were on Tuesdays from 4 to 6PM in the School of Medicine (SAF) building- I’m still grateful I didn’t have to trek my lazy butt half way across campus for them.

The course is split between two terms (Autumn and Spring term); some options last one term in duration whereas others, like languages, last two. The different courses on offer fall under the following categories: Business and Professional Skills; Global Challenges; Languages and Global Citizenship; and Science, Culture and Society. From Entrepreneurship to Exploring Democracy, Creative Thinking, Philosophy, Psychology and Science Fiction- there’s a lot of variety. In terms of languages, some of the options include Chinese, Korean, French, Italian and Russian.

Now German is a language I’ve wanted to learn since I was about 6 years old- the roots of my admiration are 100% unclear. So I jumped at the opportunity to take the course! I placed German as my first choice, Russian as my second and Spanish as my third. To my dismay, I was initially assigned Russian due to German being full- there went my hopes and dreams crashing straight to the ground. :’) I proceeded to withdraw from Horizons, but received an e-mailed about 2 weeks after the Horizons courses had begun offering me a place for German. So it came down to whether I wanted to just take it the following year from week 1, or put in the effort to catch up with what I had missed out on. Unsurprisingly, I opted for the latter.

I honestly found myself really enjoying learning the language. I actually had the most amazing lecturer/teacher; she was filled to the brim with enthusiasm, which was highly contagious! I confess that I actually had my crap together for German, whilst wandering around cluelessly for medicine. My roommate questioned me at some point, “Are you doing German with Medicine?” She’s so funny. :’)

Something I’ve observed about Horizons, for first years anyway, is that most people don’t go on to complete their course at the end? Take for example my German class; we started the academic year with about 20 pupils and when the final exams came around, there were less than 10 of us left. Quite a few older years I spoke to were surprised I stuck with it until the end, as they also recall a significant number of people dropping the course within the first couple of weeks. 

I suppose embarking on a Horizons course is definitely time-consuming and a bit of a nightmare if time management isn’t your strong suit. It can be really easy to decide to just drop out when the work load on your university course surges, and your motivation to show up for the evening classes drop.

However, the thing with Horizons is that if you pass (or get a Merit/Distinction)- this will show up on your transcript; but if you fail the course, it won’t show up at all. It’s a great chance to learn something different, and it’s not the end of the world if you change your mind about it and decide to withdraw. With that said, I would fully recommend enrolling in a Horizons course at Imperial if you find a subject/language that interests you!

Alex (:

Current mood during Easter/Spring break. In dire need of starting revision but like, Netflix. 
Hope you’re having better luck.


P.S. Some courses accept Horizons courses as either degree credit, or extra degree creditNot medicine, though. 🙁 
P.P.S. From what I understand, some courses with year abroad require you to take the respective Horizons language where applicable. For instance, some of the host countries (i.e. Germany and France) deliver teaching in their native language.

2 comments for “Should you do Horizons in First Year?

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience with the program! I’m hoping to do the Spanish course when I join next year, I really want to get fluent so hopefully I can keep up with all my work too.

    1. You’re more than welcome! Ah Español, muy bien! Wishing you all the best with that and your first year here at Imperial:D

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