Find a real winter in the UK

Tayla B
Bachelor of Creative Industries
Sheffield Hallam University, UK


My experience living in England for six months studying at SHU was incredible. I had never been to England or Europe before, but having many friends living there I knew what to expect, but nothing could prepare me for the weather. I arrived in winter to freezing temperatures and I think the thing I struggled with if anything was the lack of sunlight. Once every two weeks during winter you would get a sunny day, which is nothing like I am used to growing up in Australia.

It’s colder than you might think!

Other than the lack of Vitamin D, my experience was one I will never forget. I made such an amazing group of friends, all international students, from countries all over Europe, America, Australia which made for an interesting collection of people. I was living in the city in student accommodation, which made it easy to access everything by walking and was studying in the city so class was only a 10 min walk from my house.


The university was super accommodating to international students and had weekly activities for us and organized trips over the country to make sure we had plenty of opportunities to meet new people. This is how I made majority of my friends, and was the best thing the university did for us.

Making friends while on exchange is the best experience

There wasn’t a lot of culture shock as it was an English speaking country, but the Brits have their own slang words that took some time to get used to!

It was a struggle to accommodate to the idea that I wasn’t on holiday the whole time- I was living there- and that it was okay to not be busy the whole time or always doing something.

The main thing that drove me to pick England was the ease of being able to travel all over the country by train and how close it was to be able to go to Europe. I spent my 22nd birthday in Paris and it was the most magical thing I could’ve ever imagined. My exchange experience was the greatest thing I have done with my education and can’t recommend it enough for anyone thinking about it.

Leeds Survival Guide, Part 4: Travel

I’m now one week away from travelling back to Australia and I realise that I’ve picked up a lot of great advice in regards to travelling while studying in the UK. Take it from someone who spent her birthday in Paris, Christmas in Amsterdam and New Year’s in Edinburgh, I have done my fair share of travelling, and I have the pen collection to prove it:

From York, Manchester, Lincoln, Wales, Durham, Paris, Lake District, London, Tenerife, Amsterdam, all the way to Scotland

So, here are some of the top travel tips that I have learned so far.

Read more

Discover the UK’s picturesque countryside

Jordan W
(BCI student Majoring in Drama, Minors in Scenography and Literature)
Leeds University, UK


The landscape is stunning in England, if you’re a painter or creative type it will make your mind wonder. I was fortunate enough in my weekend explorations of the England countryside to come across an exhibition holding some of Francis Bacon’s most famous work on tour.

You’ll meet so many friends while on exchange. I will give some advice, you will notice on your return home that you will have more international student friends than English students, as they tend to stick to their own crowd (usually). This is not necessarily bad, it was my own personal experience and made friends with plenty of non-student English friends.

So, you’re probably wondering about Europe. Do it. It’s one of the best things. In the middle of Semester 2 (which is our Semester 1 at QUT), there is a month break in the middle to study, I suggest do some study then take some time off to travel to Europe, it is at a very good time in March / April where the tourists have not yet arrived, but it is not blisteringly cold like Winter – it is just right.

Nothing is more rewarding than travelling

A highlight I would suggest is to do Italy – it is magnificent, you will not regret – climbing Mount Vesuvius was indeed my favourite as it snowed while I was at the top.

However, transport and travelling to other places is quite expensive due to the class system on trains which interlink England. I suggest using the National Express bus service that allows extremely cheap tickets around the U.K. – it takes longer to your destination point but it saves you money.

By the end, you will wish you could never leave – but that’s okay because at the end you would have made connections and can meet up with those friends again, traveling and searching the world together.

Learning and living at Leeds

Jordan W
(BCI student Majoring in Drama, Minors in Scenography and Literature)
Leeds University, UK


Leeds University is built on-top of a mountain that looks over the town. It is known to be one of the prestigious universities of England known as the Red Brick Universities. Don’t let this fool you. It’s very much a community, with teachers and academics giving you insight into the living and academics of the institution.

Here, the teachers do throw you in the deep-end. But if you have a level-head ask a lot questions and confer with your tutor teacher specifically tasked with helping your academic needs, you will have a great time. The assignments are much larger than QUT which is around 2500 – 5000 words, so be prepared for more rigorous researching and studying which you can do at three separate libraries on campus, the Laidlaw, Brotherton and Parkinson libraries.

The Brotherton Library

The campus has numerous dorms surrounding it. I stayed in Storm Jameson Court West that was considered the ritzy part of campus, I did not know this at the time. I only wanted a place with an ensuite bathroom. It was a gated complex with its own reception area with two computers, multiple desk areas for work and a free pool table. It made it very fun in with roommates late at night with a cup of hot cocoa.

I enjoyed my time here at the dorm, I was on a floor with seven other occupants, one a friend of mine from QUT which made the trying times without vegemite that much easier to complain about. I had three fellow roommates from the New York City / State area, a Nigerian, and one Londoner who accompanied me on so many journeys around Leeds and the places surrounding such as York, which was magnificent with its old castle wall and cathedrals.

Just some of the friends you will make on exchange

The U.K has so much to offer and so does Leeds University, it is situated in the heart of a town where it is built around student life. Any student will have fun here studying. The dorm life is what you’ll remember, have long chats into the night with fellow strangers as you turn into family.

Leeds Survival Guide, Part 3: The Studies

Having just finished my final class for the semester, I now have a one month break before exams and so, I decided to let you all know what the studies here at Leeds have been like.

To get an idea of where I’m coming from, I did the following three modules this semester:

  • Understanding the Audience
  • Beginners French
  • Career Development

Here are some of the differences I’ve experienced between studying at QUT and the University of Leeds:

1. I received a lot of handouts at Leeds

  • For every class I received at least one piece of paper per lesson, which rarely happens at QUT
  • Buy yourself a display folder before leaving because they are extremely hard to come by in Leeds for some unknown reason
  • They’re also handy to keep your travel documents in while travelling

2. Referencing is different to QUT 

  • I recommend downloading EndNote (A free referencing software) because Leeds has their preferred referencing method available to be downloaded and it makes referencing so much faster and easier
  • QUT has this available too if you didn’t know!

3. Most classes take attendance

  • The amount of times you can miss class depends on your course but for media, missing 5 classes resulted in being contacted and questioned
  • Be careful with planning big trips during class time; I recommend travelling before the semester starts or during December before the exams

4. Not all lectures are recorded

  • None of mine were, which meant I had to actually pay attention
  • It was definitely difficult not being able to go back and rewatch lectures, but this just made me listen harder and take more notes

5. A passing grade is 40/100

  • This changes depending on what you study but this is the passing grade for most courses
  • It’s definitely a lot easier to pass at Leeds, but from my experience, it’s a little more difficult to do well

6. For all my media students out there, be aware that media at QUT is a lot more modern and practical whereas at Leeds it’s a little more traditional

  • You’ll most likely find powerpoint slides with plain black text on white background and no pictures or videos
  • For the assignments, Leeds wanted a lot of academic study examples, whereas QUT usually prefers that students find their own examples from tv shows, articles or other media
  • With that being said, Axel Bruns who works at QUT did make an appearance in my reading list one week for his work on convergence, so the content isn’t that different from QUT, it’s just a little more bland

7. Finally, less of a difference but a great recommendation, if you have a free elective, do Career Development

  • Career development is a 20 credit module (60 credits makes up 48 QUT credits) so I only had to do 3 units to get a full study load (this left me with time to travel on weekends!)
  • It was pretty much a big reflection unit on what I want to do in the future
  • Along with it being quite easy it was actually pretty useful in helping improve my resume and my interview skills

Even though it’s been different here in Leeds, it’s definitely been a worthwhile experience, mainly because I get to study in buildings such as this:

So, I highly recommend you come to the University of Leeds to experience studying here yourself.

Need to know where to find icecream in Leeds? Read on…

Jordan W
(BCI student Majoring in Drama, Minors in Scenography and Literature)
Leeds University, UK


Leeds is an extraordinary place it has the same population as my home city, the Gold Coast except its city centre is perhaps the same size as one of the suburbs. Everything is small and cramped. This is not necessarily a bad thing, it’s a more of a cultural difference – a heritage difference.

The buildings are quaint, the grass is (actually) green, unlike Australia and the air in England is fresh. There many boutique stores and lots and lots of cool book stores. Visit all of them if you’re a book lover and make sure to visit my personal favourite Water Stones, it’s right in the heart of town near a giant supermall called Trinity Leeds – where all your shopping needs will come true.

Heritage buildings in Leeds

There are numerous stores near campus where students can buy takeaway food and groceries at Tesco (IGA equivalent) and Morrisons (Coles and Woolworths) – they even have ALDI which is around a 25-minute walk behind the campus. I suggest Morrisons for big shops and Tesco for those late-night snack appetites.

There are two Tesco’s on the outer rim of the campus for students – they are open to 11pm at night and are your lifeline in ice-cream deprived situations – Ben and Jerry’s and Hagan Daz are so cheap in comparison to Australia – so is cheese. One thing that was noticeable was that food is a lot cheaper to buy in England than in Australia. That’s always a plus when exams stress kicks in!



Looking for a little adventure? Travel!

Jordan W
(BCI student Majoring in Drama, Minors in Scenography and Literature)
Leeds University, UK


It’s been a little over four weeks now since returning from my exchange, and it has given me a lot of time to relish and ponder on the extraordinary opportunity that QUT has provided to students.

I firstly want to say that when people say that a student exchange is a life-changing event –

I want to say it is truly a life-changing event that will hopefully help shape you in years to come.

It really sets the whole motion on how you approach long-distant travel overseas, preparation for a trip, certain requirements that you need to do on your own before leaving your home country and helps you really feel what it is like to be self-sufficient – on your own – progressing into the unknown.

Just some of the friends you will make on exchange

It really is a new chapter in your life. It also helps the students who may not have left the nest yet, to really get a chance to spread their wings and learn how to fly on their own.

I was a person who had already been out of home for quite some time but had never had a travelling to distant sides of the world, jumping head first into the culture of another country, immersing myself for the better part of six months with students that did not know my history, background or culture kind of experience.

By the end, you will wish you could never leave – but that’s okay because at the end you would have made connections and can meet up with those friends again, traveling and searching the world together.



Life in the Brookes!

Kelli Sealy – Bachelor of Design (Honours)
Oxford Brookes University, England (Semester 1, 2017).

My Exchange in Oxford, UK was one of the best experiences of my life! I loved living in such a beautiful city that is rich with history and stunning architectural buildings are around every corner. Oxford is home to many places of interest such as the prestigious University of Oxford which is scattered throughout the town center. The Divinity School located within Oxford University is one of many locations used in the filming of Harry Potter and was breathtaking to visit!

Each weekend a group of friends and I would go on short trips to various spots around England. We went to Brighton and spent the day eating fish and chips on the pier. The ultimate bucket list experience! We also traveled down to Cornwall on the South-west coast of England and hiked up to Tintagel Castle and the views over the cliffs were breathtaking. The beauty of going on Exchange in England is that it’s quite a small country (in comparison to Australia) so traveling around was pretty easy to do!

I absolutely loved my exchange experience; I only wish I could’ve stayed longer! My advice to students who are considering going on Exchange is do it! Also make sure you plan and prepare as much as you possibly can before you leave and keep an open mind when you’re overseas. Say yes to absolutely everything and try new things! You will meet super fun people who have a similar mindset, some of which will become life-long friends.


Leeds Survival Guide, Part 2: Leeds Lingo

In the past few months of being in Leeds, there have been plenty of interesting and strange Yorkshire sayings that I’ve encountered. In Australia, we have words such as “snag”, “arvo”, “grog” that are native to the Australian language. Similarly, there are newfound words found in the ‘Yorkshire’ dialect found in places like Leeds, York and Sheffield.

As part of my Leeds Survival Guide, I’m going to share a few crucial and the most interesting words I’ve heard so far.

Most importantly, when you first make eye contact with a Yorkshire person you’ll most likely be greeted with “you alright?”. This happens to mean “how are you?” but if you’re not expecting it, it feels strange being asked if you’re alright by the cashier at a supermarket or a stranger you pass by.

Why yes I am okay… Do I not look okay?!

You are supposed to respond with something like, “yes I’m good, and you?”, but it is definitely something I had to get used to.

Aside from that, the following are some more intriguing things I’ve heard that I thought would be good for an incoming student to wrap their head around:

  • Ey up – Hello?
  • Aye – Yes (Kind of like a pirate with a British accent)
  • Clever clogs – Conceited person
  • Egg on – To urge someone to do something
  • Endways – Forward
  • Fancy dress – Costume (Not in fact nice clothing, but something like a Halloween costume)
  • Jiggered – Exhausted
  • Jock – Food or lunch (similar to the Australian use of ‘tucker’)
  • Lark – Good fun
  • Teem – Pour (e.g. “It’s teeming!” – “It’s pouring rain!”)
  • Us – Me, my or our
  • Usen – Plural of ‘us’ (Kind of like the way some Aussies say ‘youse’ as a plural of ‘you’)

And here are some Yorkshire idioms that are fun to say:

  • As daft as a dormhouse – Not very intelligent
  • As sharp as a Sheffield – Someone who is quick-witted
  • Catch as catch can – Everyone for themselves
  • Where there’s muck there’s brass – Where there’s hard work, there’s money

There are plenty more England ‘easter eggs’ like this to be found and it is most definitely worth it to explore and find them all. To quote a plaque I found in Whitby, I personally really ‘luv it ere’.

Leeds Survival Guide, Part 1: Arrival

The idea of travelling and experiencing a life away from home seems fantastic; until you arrive in this strange place with no clue of what you’re doing here.

I’ve been in Leeds, England for about a week now. It’s been scary, but it’s also been an incredible amount of fun.

Coming from Australia, I assumed that I’d fit right in with British culture. I already speak the language so, how different could the UK really be? Very. And this is what they call ‘culture shock’.

From accidentally pulling an alarm chord (I thought it was the light), not knowing how to unplug a sink (turns out there’s a lever at the back) and adapting to the Yorkshire sayings (blog on Leeds lingo up soon), I was definitely in shock.

Even seeing a squirrel for the first time had me amazed!

It’s funny how such a common animal can be so foreign to some.

Although, within all of the bewilderment, there was one powerful thing that got me through: making new friends.

If I could give one major piece of advice to all those studying in the UK, it would be to get out of your little dorm room and go to every, single ‘Freshers’ event you can.

With international café meetings, food adventures and an array of parties, there are so many chances to meet other students who are as new and confused as you are. Below are some of the incredible people that I befriended at these events.

All the international friends that I met at various freshers events.

These new friends who share my shock of this new culture are keeping my homesickness at bay, giving me the chance to explore more and simply smile more.

My first week in Leeds is almost over, but with about 30 new friends on Facebook, I’m feeling much more comfortable in this new place. It’s time to let the real adventures to begin.