An Amazing Time in Lille!

Amelia O., Bachelor of Business
IESEG School of Management, France (Semester 2, 2018)

I went on Exchange at IESEG School of Management in Lille, France.

IESEG School of Management is not a very big school but it is very spread out over Lille and the buildings can be quite tricky to find if you don’t have a map or a friend who has been there before. The classes themselves are very different from the usual QUT business unit set up. If you are just a regular exchange student like me and can select quite a large amount of units as electives, you’ll have the chance to do both intensive and extensive courses. In total I did 13 classes over the semester. Intensive courses are set up as a one-week class, four hours a day with class spanning four days with normally a presentation on Thursday and an exam on Friday or an assignment due the following week. Extensive classes are just like classes at QUT, lasting 13 weeks with regular classes each week. I really enjoyed intensive classes as they were fast, interesting and over in a week, meaning it was hard to get bored of the class content. I didn’t do all intensives and I probably should have by doubling up intensive classes in the first two weeks. The classes tend to be very interactive and the wide variety of classes actually helped me to narrow down what I wanted to do with my degree in marketing once I finish university. Also, if you have the chance to do Experiential Marketing with Trish Rubin, take this course because I had most fun I think I’ve ever had in a class at university.

Now in Lille unlike Brisbane 1-2km is far and can even take you out of the city centre. I didn’t know this before coming here so my accommodation was further away than I would have originally liked and I needed to take the bus (which became a hassle when I had to organise my bus card). So I would recommend spending the extra money (if you can) and get accommodation as close to the university as you can so everything is in walking distance. Other than that, my roommates were incredible and I was able to meet 4 new people from all over the world.

New Friends in Lille

New Friends in Lille

Lille is a hub for travel; it is not only close to so many countries including England, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany where you can get there by bus, but it is also really easy to get to places like Portugal, Spain and Italy by plane. While I was there I was able to visit all of these countries on the weekends and sometimes during the week if I did not have an intensive course. The university also organises school trips to places like Oktoberfest, Strasbourg for the Christmas markets, Amsterdam and small day trips to places like Dunkirk. These trips are a little expensive but are definitely worth it because 1. You don’t have to organise anything 2. They take you to places that can be quite difficult to organise on your own and 3. You get to go with friends and you’ll end up making so many friends and memories during them. If you are organising the travel by yourself, FlixBus, Oui Bus and the GoEuro are great websites to find tickets and Skyscanner is a great place to find cheap tickets to all sorts of destinations.

In total for the exchange experience I saved $13,000 (including the bursary and loans). This would have been enough if I’d just stayed in Lille and only gone travelling once. However, I did around 2 months of travelling so I did need to borrow some money and luckily my amazing parents were able to loan me the money I needed.

It was one of the best experiences of my life, so if you are thinking of going on exchange to France I would definitely recommend going to Lille.

Oh Canada! University of Guelph (UoG)

Denise N., Bachelor of Biomedical Science
University of Guelph, Canada (Semester 2, 2017)

In Semester 2 of 2017, I had the privilege of going on a study exchange to UoG, Canada. This experience involved school, travel, friends and fun. Upon arrival at the campus, one of the things that stood out was how enormous the campus was compared to QUT’s Gardens point. The campus spread out across a large part of the city. Guelph itself was not as developed as Brisbane, it is a small city outside Toronto. Part of what contributed to the size of the campus was the student residencies in all four corners of the university. I resided in the East houses and shared a suite with 11 other students. We had three toilets, two showers and one kitchen.

Academically, there were more differences than similarities between UoG and QUT. Firstly, at UoG, there was very little flexibility for students to organise their timetables due to pre-set class hours. Some classes were as early as 7am. Lecture recording was not common, only one fourth of my classes had recordings. Lecturers were addressed formally as Professors and the longest lecture I had was an hour and thirty minutes. The class periods were shorter but more frequent throughout the week, about 3 times.Living in south-east Ontario made it easier for me to travel to numerous places including Niagara Falls, Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec City and Montreal as well as crossing over to the USA via bus. The cost of living in Canada was higher than that in Brisbane. This was mainly because of the tax and tips to be added to the advertised prices for goods and services. It took me a while to assimilate to this.

In terms of cultural shock, I didn’t experience it until I travelled to the Province of Quebec where majority of people speak French. Visiting Quebec was one of my highlights because it was very different; being surrounded by people speaking in a different language, viewing public signs mostly in French. I remember when I first arrived in Quebec City and was trying to get a bus ticket, the first 3 strangers I spoke to did not understand English. Some other highlights from my trip include experiencing the beautiful Fall colours at Montmorency Falls, experiencing snow for the very first time and making a snow angel. I was also able to visit NYC, one of my favourite places in the world. Time Square was literally the centre of the universe.

To anyone thinking of going on exchange, I strongly encourage you to go for it. Through experiencing the new school environment, traveling and new friendships, I have learnt more about myself, my values and my goals. Exchange taught me that I know very little and I have a lot to learn. It was without a doubt a learning experience. Advice I would give to future students would be to live off campus, as much as living on campus is an experience in itself, there’s more independence living off campus. Keep in touch with family and avoid making friends from the same country as even though it would be easier, you won’t really benefit out of it in the long run. People from other places have unique experiences that you can learn from and international connections are valuable, especially today.

Make the Leap and Go On Exchange!

Alexandra K., Dual Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering and Business
Berlin School of Economics and Law, Germany (Semester 1, 2018)

Imagine thousands of people sitting by a river, beer in hand, basking in the sunlight or throwing a Frisbee while techno music plays in the background. This is the definition of a Berlin summer. Sadly, my exchange was for the fall semester, where snow and a Glühwein by a fire was more favourable. However, being kept indoors also meant more time to bond with the students who I shared my dormitory with. Students from all backgrounds and languages mingled daily, and there was certainly no shortage of partying. The little things are what makes an exchange so memorable, such as ice skating at the Christmas markets together or using the car seats from an abandoned van in our living room. Some of the people I lived with have made their way into my heart as life-long friends, who I have already visited in their home countries.I attended HWR for one semester with the goal of deepening my knowledge of international management in an international setting. The experiences and lessons I gained from the teachers who are sourced from all round the world were invaluable, and helped to set me apart from the curve. HWR, like most of Germany, is very old-fashioned and traditional in their approach to learning and bureaucracy. No lectures are recorded and you are expected to build a relationship with your teacher. This approach at first seems a bit intrusive or unnecessary, but my teachers were able to connect with me on a personal and professional level. This approach encourages students to develop their own opinion and solutions to issues presented, as opposed to simply memorising content.

Culture shock in Germany was inevitable, but learning the language is the best step towards fitting in and finding your place. Before my exchange, I studied German in Brisbane at the “DerDieDas” school, which was excellent to ensure I was not wasting time on the basics when in Berlin. After my 6 months of exchange, I am currently at a B2 level, and am undertaking an internship in Berlin now. Advice for your exchange I can offer is be prepared to feel lonely, homesick or just displaced. Take the time out of your week to call home, be ready for the shopkeepers to be rude to you, and don’t be afraid to go out alone. One of the highlights of my experience was simply going to a local German-owned café and spending hours preparing for my German exam the next day. This small decision lead to me meeting my now-boyfriend, a Kiwi who lives in Berlin! Just make the leap and go on exchange, but don’t stop there, make the leap and squeeze every last drop out of the experience.

Truly Life Changing Texas A&M University

Cameron S., Bachelor of Business/Information Technology
Texas A&M University, USA (Semester 2, 2018)

“Truly life changing” is often the phrase I use to describe my semester exchange at Texas A&M University. I wanted to go on exchange somewhere fun, unique, and full of culture. I certainly received all of that when I arrived at College Station and became an Aggie for the semester. Texas A&M is a large university that boasts nearly 70,000 students, located in the heart of Texas. I remember constantly being in awe of the magnitude of the campus and the grandeur of the buildings. History and traditions are a big part of student life. One of my favourite traditions to experience was the Aggie Bonfire. A large bonfire is built every autumn around Thanksgiving to signify the Aggie’s desire to beat their long-standing rival, the University of Texas.

Bonfire

Experiencing an American college atmosphere was incredible. Football games, passionate people, and Northgate (the nightlife district) are a few of the things I will never forget. I had the joy of getting to witness one of the best college football games of all time. The game was against Louisiana State University and went to 7 overtimes breaking numerous college football records.

Football Game

Although arriving in a foreign country is a little daunting at first, the people of Texas make you feel right at home. Texans amaze me with their incredibly welcoming manner and friendliness. I decided to live on campus where I met a bunch of other international students that quickly became my friends. I made most of my friends by joining ISMA, an organisation that pairs internationals with local students. ISMA organised road trips around Texas as well as different social events. I would definitely recommend getting involved in organisations while on exchange. The close friends I made through ISMA would often meet up to hang out or go to Northgate. At the end of the semester we took a long road trip through West Texas and New Mexico to go skiing in Colorado.  The enjoyment of the trip was occasionally dampened by thoughts of how my exchange is coming to an end.

Colorado

I had so many unique and incredible experiences during my stay in Texas and traveling to places like Los Angeles and New Orleans. The people that I met and the close friends that I made are what made this trip so special. My only regret is not going for a year. Gig ‘em!

New Orleans

 

 

 

The Best Student City In The World: Experiencing Montreal

Sneha M, Bachelor of Business and Laws (Honours)
HEC Montreal, Semester 2 2017

When I realised I was going on exchange I was a whole lot of excited and a little bit of nervous!

I had never lived overseas before for starters, and cooking skills were limited to toast. My partner institution was HEC (Hautes Ecoles Commerciales) in Montreal, Canada. While my classes were in English, French is the main language spoken in Montreal. Equipped with about three Duolingo lessons I packed my one suitcase and off I went! Luckily however, nearly everyone in Montreal speaks English. In fact, they want to practice English so much you may not always get to try out your French!

Getting There

My experience did not start off on the best note. My flight from Brisbane was delayed by four hours, which meant I missed both of my connecting flights. When I arrived in LAX for a stopover my phone stopped working and my next flight was delayed. On my final leg from Toronto to Montreal, the passenger behind me was severely sick and had to get medical treatment before we could fly out! I ended up arriving in Montreal with no one to pick me up at 4am, a day later than expected. This also meant I spent the first and only day before orientation week getting my phone fixed, getting some warm clothes (as it was -14 degrees) and grocery shopping. The next day Orientation Week began and it was jam packed full of activities including going to an outdoor spa in the snow, laser tag, snow tubing, pub crawls, hikes, ice skating, parties and much more. Needless to say it was really fun, but so exhausting I caught the flu. I think experiencing challenges so early in my exchange made me take initiative and get organised really quickly which made the rest of the trip so much easier.

My home for the semester!

Accommodation and Travelling 

I was really lucky my roommates were also attending HEC. This made the whole experience better because we had similar schedules and could travel together. I definitely recommend going to Montreal if you want to travel. It’s only a short bus ride to New York and Boston and a few hours further to Washington DC. I also got the chance to visit the Rocky Mountains on the West Coast of Canada which was simply breathtaking and even visited Iceland during spring break!

Blue lagoon in Iceland!

Death Valley, USA

The Student Life

Montreal was voted the number one student city in the world for good reasons! It has plenty to do and a great atmosphere. While on exchange I went to Igloofest, a music festival with intricately carved bonfires and great music. It started snowing halfway through the night, which just meant everyone had to dance harder.

A word of caution though, HEC has a very good reputation, but that also means the courses are quite difficult. Instead of using electives, I was able to complete compulsory finance subjects. The format is quite different with no online lectures and three hour classes that combine work as lectures and tutorials together. Take advantage of the consultations and make sure to study throughout the semester as most exams are worth 60%! One elective class I took however was Social Innovation in the International Area. This subject requires us to work with a Social Innovation group or project in Montreal to meet specific aims. It was amazing to see the social enterprises people from across the globe are involved in.

The Weather

It can sometimes be difficult in winter where some days it was -19. It’s really important to layer, because underground and inside it can get really warm with central heating. Montreal has an extensive underground metro system as well as shopping centers and an underground mini city! Good shoes are also a must as you can be trekking through deep snow just to get to class! Canadians are tough and class is hardly ever cancelled unless there is a major snowstorm.

Snow storm!

Notre Dame de Basilica, Montreal

 

The friends, skills and memories I have gained from Montreal and my time at HEC was invaluable. I am so grateful and humbled by exchange experience. I can’t wait to visit again!

Meet New Friends And Learn Jiu Jitsu

Charlotte A., Bachelor of Laws (Honors)
University of Exeter, England (Semester 1, 2017)

I had a really great time on exchange, just like everyone else who has ever been on exchange. I studied at the University of Exeter for a year and it was amazing. I was able to travel through a lot of Europe, and even got up to Iceland. I made a lot of new friends and learned Jiu Jitsu (I got my green belt)! The worst part of exchange was that the classes were compulsory, so I got an email telling me off for missing them (I thought I was an adult who could choose what would be useful for them??). This felt particularly mean when I had tonsillitis. However, most of my subjects only had three tutorials per semester so it was a pretty manageable workload. Living on campus was great, as I could get to class within five minutes of waking up. Overall, it was great.

Exploring

Having fun with friends

Accommodation

Loving Leeds: What To Expect At The University Of Leeds

Gina O., Bachelor of Business/ Bachelor of Creative Industries
The University of Leeds, Semester 1, 2017

Upon my exchange at the University of Leeds, in Semester 1 of 2017, I learnt so much  about myself and the world surrounding me. Having gone on exchange with a friend I attend university with in Brisbane, I felt at ease having a friendly face with me on this epic journey. But soon I learnt that being a duo may have been our downfall as people assumed we did not need to be invited to hall events which led to us feeling isolated. But I was able to overcome this by putting myself out there, making sure I was out of my comfort zone and made life long memories with amazing people.

A lot of these people however were themselves exchange students. I found myself shocked at the little interest the local people in Leeds had in people from other countries. An interesting prospect considering the majority of their population is immigrants. It became more prominent as well after beginning my classes and I started to realise that in the classes I did not have any fellow exchange students in, it was quite difficult to make friends. People had already formed their own group of friends and were exceptionally unwelcoming to newcomers. As I had already made my own group of friends this did not faze me, you can’t please them all.

What I did enjoy about my classes was experiencing the different teaching styles offered at the University of Leeds. One lecturer in particular absolutely astounded me going above and beyond any other undergraduate level of teaching I had experienced. This particular lecturer really shone through and definitely made me happy with my choice of host university.

Travelling!

Another great aspect of my exchange experience was staying on campus and in the Halls. Not only could I get up 5 minutes before a lecture and take naps in between classes, but I was also surrounded by interesting people. We did lots together: dinners, birthday parties and travelling! I cannot begin to tell you what it was like to travel to a different country nearly every weekend, other than it’s a worthwhile experience. Costly, but WORTH IT. The reason I chose the University of Leeds is because it had it’s own airport and it was close to pretty well everything in Europe.

Leeds, the town.

Also the town of Leeds itself is BUZZING. A small University town with your rival University being Beckett makes for a lot of fun. They always have something going on in the center and great student deals pretty much everywhere. I’m not trying to talk up the University of Leeds, but simply the whole exchange program. You get the proper opportunity to live and study in a different country, with government support. Why wouldn’t you, it may be the best thing you ever do!

Welcome to Hullywood – University of Hull

Clare S., Bachelor of Business / Creative Industries 
University of Hull, UK (Semester 2, 2017)

Host University

Arriving/Campus Life

Arriving in Hull was so easy. The university organised a pickup service from Manchester airport and most of the international students used this. So I got to meet so many people before the semester even started. I flew in from Amsterdam and actually met one of my flatmates who was from the Netherlands on my flight. The university also organised welcome events for international students which was a great way to meet people.

The campus life in the UK is so different than Australia because everyone moves away for university so everyone is open to meeting new people and everyone is super involved in campus life. Hull was also a student city which was awesome as most places had student deals. I was told before I went to the UK that I had to join a Uni sports team and this was the best decision I made. I joined Netball Squad and this was one of my highlights. We played together three times a week but the best part was Wednesday night themed socials. During this every sports team on campus would dress up in the weeks theme and go drinking in a local pub and then head to the nightclub that was on campus. This is where I made most of my closest friends at Hull.

Accommodation

I stayed at The Lawns whilst at Hull which was a short bus ride to Uni. At the Lawns, we got a free meal everyday (expect a lot of potatoes) and a free bus pass. There is also a gym, laundry facilities and kitchens. The rooms and bathrooms were basically what you expect, small but had everything you needed in it. I had just come off three months of staying in hostels so to me it was amazing. The halls I lived in were a mix of international and domestic students, so I lived with Canadians, Americans, Germans (so many Germans), Dutch and Danish people. I was the only Australian at the university which I liked because I know other people who have gone on exchange and only made friends with other Australians.

Academics

The academics were somewhat different, classes are compulsory and they hold your hand a lot more than they do at QUT which I didn’t like. It was a lot of small group assignments and then massive 70% exams in the end. I didn’t go on exchange for the academic aspect so overall, I found it fine.

Host Country

Cost of living

Hull is located really north in England so everything was relatively cheap. Drinks at most clubs are 3 or 4 pounds and basics on Piper Mondays are 1.5 pounds. Food from the shops is also cheap but eating out after the conversion rate is about the same. My biggest expense was trains, they are ridiculously expensive. I caught trains to London and to the closest airports when I was travelling throughout the semester. I 100% recommend buying a rail pass, it makes the trips a lot cheaper.

Travel

I traveled around Europe for 3 months before the semester with other friends that were going on exchange to America. This was another highlight of the trip. We got to go to a music festival in Budapest, go to the Italian Rivera, ride camels through the Sahara Desert and more. I also traveled throughout the semester but how far you can go is is really dependent on your Uni timetable. During the semester I went on multiple trips to London and got to tick going to Iceland off my bucket list. All the flights are so cheap. I paid return to Iceland $80AUD which is cheaper than going to Sydney.

Learn About Other Cultures

Samantha D., Bachelor of Creative Industries
Bath Spa University, England (Semester 2, 2017)

I attended Bath Spa University as an exchange student in September 2017. This experience opened me up to the world and I believe I have grown as a person due to it and my travels before and after.

I lived with other exchange students from around the world in an eight-person female dorm on campus. Living on campus alone was very different from my experiences at QUT as I have lived in private house-shares the whole time I have been at university. Between the eight of us we shared the kitchen and one bathroom, we were unlucky and had just one bathroom rather than the two the other dorms had. The girls I lived with were from Germany, Finland, Spain, China and America, I was the only Australian doing exchange at Bath Spa at the time. It was an amazing way to learn about other cultures.

I was only in Bath for approximately three months rather than the five I had expected when I first applied for exchange. I would recommend to anyone looking at studying in England to go in the Australian Semester One as if you go in the second your exchange will end half way through the semester, right before the Christmas break. I had a difficult time when I arrived as there was an ongoing misunderstanding between institutions and professors about how many units I was meant to do, due to only being there for a half semester. I was also in my final year and ended up doing some very high contact hour final year units which took most of my time, so I couldn’t do as many outside activities as I would have liked.

The grading system in England is vastly different to Australia and took a lot of getting used to. For example adjusting to knowing that a sixty-five is a great result when at home it would be disappointing is an odd feeling and I had to keep that in mind.

A highlight of my exchange was a lifelong friend I made, whilst everyone in our dorm got along I became especially close to one of the girls I lived with. We really clicked, and I ended up going to Finland with her over Christmas to spend Christmas with her family. Meeting her and having such a good friend throughout the exchange experience was absolutely amazing and I’m so privileged to have had that.

Another highlight for me personally was the quality and variety of classes I took. I was able to take classes in subjects which are not taught anywhere I know of in Australia which really enhanced my learning and I feel will benefit me greatly in my future career.

Bath is quite an expensive town in England, so our cost of living was a little higher than expected. We split some grocery costs and bought individual crockery (spoons, plates and cutlery) but split the cost of cookware between everyone in the dorm. The campus was on a farm, so it was really nice to be able to walk over and buy fresh local produce.

As a dorm we wrote down every birthday and important holiday at the beginning of term and celebrated each of them as a group. We also tried to attend things that our roommates were in such as drama or dance performances. Over the course of the 3 months we celebrated multiple birthdays, Thanksgiving, Finnish Independence Day and Chinese National day. On each occasion we tried to eat relevant cultural food. It was amazing to experience how other cultures eat and celebrate and appreciate new things.

Some tips and advice for future exchange students:

I will reiterate, if going to England on your exchange go during Australia’s first semester to get a full experience.

Don’t let your schoolwork build up, whilst it may feel like a holiday it is still university and if you stay on top of your work you will enjoy it more. Try forming study groups to get to know other students in your class and combine study and socialising.

Be a tourist! Some of the most fun I had was exploring my host town. It is a new place and it’s great to get to know it.

It is living in another country and you may be homesick or not 100% all the time, that is okay. It’s all a part of the experience and you can grow from it. Also, your idea of fun doesn’t have to be the same as everyone else’s, just find people you have similar interests to. Some of my best nights were at home lounging around with my friends or eating together rather than out partying.

The most important thing is to be open to new experiences. An exchange will be great for your confidence and life skills.

No Worries In Washington!

Julia S, Bachelor of Creative Industries/ Business
University of Central Washington, USA (Semester 2 2017)

It all started on the 31st of July. I left for Italy to meet my friend Clare who was also studying abroad. We planned to travel Europe together for a month before attending our respective Universities. After 31 days of travelling around Italy, Slovenia, Hungary and Germany to name a few, I boarded a plane once again; but this time to the United States. My semester of exchange was to take place at Central Washington University. A small University with a student population of almost 11,000, CWU is in a small town named Ellensburg, just two hours from Seattle.

A few facts about Central Washington:

  • Founded in 1891
  • School Mascot: The Wildcat
  • School Colours: Red and Black
  • Average Class size: 25
  • Homecoming speaker: Nick Offerman (Ron Swanson from Parks and Rec)

After a two-hour bus ride from Seattle, I arrived at what would be my home for the next 12 weeks, Wendall Hall. I had purposely chosen to live in a suite during my stay. By living in a suite, I was guaranteed three American roommates while also having my own mini room.

What started as a scary, whirlwind three days during commencement and meeting my roommates quickly turned into one of the best times of my life.  My roommates and I were all extremely different – but in the best way possible. Often, we would liken ourselves to the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants; all having our own personalities and interests but able to come together to create amazing memories.

Studying Public Relations overseas allowed for incredible opportunities. One of my teachers (who forced us to create a LinkedIn profile) was former Senior Vice President of A & R Edelman. Edelman is known for handling the communications of top organizations within the U.S, such as Dove. In addition to this, I attended a meeting at WE Communications with CWU’s Public Relations society. WE Communications represents Microsoft.

Leaving exchange was extremely hard. There are many nights where I think back to driving with friends to Seattle just to have a day in the city. I often remember driving through the notorious “pass.” The pass is a long stretch of road through the mountains of Washington. In winter, it is covered with snow and ice and makes for a perfectly nostalgic backdrop for my exchange memories.

Although difficult, I would do it all again in a heartbeat. I am confident that the friends and connections I have made overseas will last a life time. This experience has allowed me to see that meeting people from all over the world and learning others’ cultures cannot be undervalued. I now see myself as capable and ready to enter my final year of University; paired with a gained knowledge and a new outlook on my studies.