Aston-ishing England

Annabel Boersen, Bachelor of Business – International
Aston University, England (Semester 2, 2017 through Semester 1, 2018)

I absolutely loved my time on exchange at Aston University in Birmingham, UK. There were so many highlights of my trip both academic and cultural: including meeting Orlando Bloom!

I chose to go to Aston University as part of my BS08 Second Degree program, and to be honest, I hadn’t really researched too much on the location of the University before I arrived. I was surprised to find that it was right on the edge of Birmingham city centre (it took 20 mins to walk to the other side of the city). This meant that everything you needed was within walking distance! The city of Birmingham also has fantastic transport options to travel around the UK and Europe (multiple train and coach stations, and an international airport as well!). I went to Bratislava, Frankfurt, Dublin, and more with cheap flights from Birmingham. I also made an effort to see as much of the UK as possible. I went north to Edinburgh, did a narrow boat adventure into Wales, and even did a 7-day walking holiday along the Cornish Coastal Path (in Cornwall), just to name a few things. I definitely recommend that you take advantage of the central location of Birmingham to get around the UK in your time there.

Since I was at Aston for a full year exchange, I was able to secure accommodation on campus. This was awesome because it was only a 5-minute walk to any class. There was also a supermarket and gym on campus which meant that in winter if it was raining or snowing, you could still get to everything very easily. I lived in a female only 7 bedroom flat. I shared a kitchen with 6 other girls, and we each had our own room and bathroom. I

One of the highlights of my entire exchange was celebrating Christmas at Disneyland Paris with my sister, who had come out to visit over the Christmas break. It was so magical especially when it snowed, and is something that I won’t ever forget. Another highlight was the people that I met while I was there. Because my exchange went for a whole year, I took part in many activities, joined the university dance society and even found a casual job at a 5* hotel in the city centre. I met people not only from all around the UK, but from all around the world. I also connected with eight other Australians who were doing the same program as me and we went to all the classes together, which was great because it meant that I knew people who were going through the same experience and if we had any questions or issues, we could figure them out together. Another highlight was looking out my window and seeing it snow on campus (it snowed multiple times on my exchange, even through April)!

In terms of units, lectures and tutorials, the UK system, although similar, is quite different in some aspects. For example; attendance at all lectures and tutorials was recorded, timetables were assigned and not chosen, and some of our units that went for the entire year only had one piece of assessment (a 100% exam). In the first semester I studied five units and in the second I studied seven. This resulted in me having four 100% exams, two 80% exams, and one assignment all in the final examination period. But as hard as it sounds, I found it realistic and was not overwhelmed at all. It was also very interesting as all my lecturers came from different cultural backgrounds. I loved how cultural the whole experience turned out to be, despite me still being in an English speaking country!

I loved the whole experience and would totally recommend others to take part in an exchange to Aston University. If I could do it again, I would!

‘The Best of Birmingham’

The QUT exchange program provided me with a range of opportunities and experiences. I spent the last semester studying abroad in England at the University of Birmingham through the QUT exchange program. Beginning classes in late September, I was not only studying on the other side of the world, but I had elected to be living in university accommodation. In doing this I found a tremendous school spirit amongst all university members who all had great pride in attending UoB. It was here that I was able to make life long friends who were studying a range of degrees from business to medicine to geology. Living so far away from everyone and everything I knew also forced me to grow greatly as not only a student but as an individual. I have come to realise that so much of life is connected through the people we meet and the actions we take. The acceptance of others and myself has also been a great lesson I’ve gained from this experience. In addition to this, I believe that my academic knowledge has grown exponentially, which I attribute to the different teaching techniques I was exposed to while on the exchange.

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The university life at UoB was greatly different to that at QUT. Although each student took six units per semester instead of the usual four taken at QUT, the workload still seemed manageable. Each day would begin with 9am lectures and seminars that continued until 6pm when all classes concluded for the day. Although many students were given fuller timetables than those found at QUT, the extra time allowed for private study helped to decrease stress given the workload. The facilities provided to Birmingham students were outstanding. These included the incredibly resourceful library, which was home to many students for most of the day and often night during exam block, and the personal tutor program provided. This entailed each student being assigned to a member of the UoB staff, who was able to guide students through university life, providing any assistance, whether that were directing a student to the correct member of faculty or providing an ear when exams were looming. Many of the students agreed that this was a great benefit to adjusting at university. I believe that the QUT exchange program was able to provide me with a truly life changing experience and would greatly recommend it and University of Birmingham to anyone considering partaking in the exchange program.

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One of the university buildings

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The clock tower named “Old Joe” on the center of campus