University of Leeds – Finally here!

Well, it’s officially been two weeks since I have arrived in the beautiful city that is Leeds. Saying two weeks now is crazy to me. It feels like a day!

Unfortunately, I had to arrive in Leeds later than expected due to some medical troubles – which sucked, big time. But hey! I’m finally here! And it still hasn’t sunk in. The city itself is so vibrant, yet filled with history. The architecture is absolutely breathtaking and every time I step outside, I feel like I’ve stepped back in time. Cheesy, I know, but oh so cool!

I’m currently staying on campus at a little place called Charles Morris Hall. It’s one of the newer accommodations the university had to offer and it’s perfect for what I need. The size of the room is just right and the En Suite bathroom is a definite bonus. However, I would recommend bringing something to put on top of the mattress, it’s absolutely terrible! In regards to flatmates, I am fortunate enough to have the most amazing people. Since arriving, I have made so many friendships and connections that I would never have even imagined having in Australia. For example, my flat mates come from a variety of countries; Nigeria, America, the United Kingdom… The list just goes on! It’s really interesting comparing our cultures and sharing them together. I managed to get my American flat mate to try Vegemite (which they sell over here!) and she hated it! But the experience was something I’ll remember forever.

In terms of classes, the system is quite similar to that of Australia’s – except for a British accent and some old lecture theatres! The classes are very dependant on readings, which is where you learn most of your content, and you then discuss it in seminars (tutorials). It definitely is hard to keep up with classes with the temptation of adventure all around you… I’ve been on two trips already!

I can’t wait to see what the next few weeks hold and I don’t want it to end.

Talk soon,

Georgia

Out & About in Leeds

Elouise: University of Leeds, Semester 1, 2016

From the moment I submitted my exchange application, right up until I hopped off the train at Leeds station I was unsure if I had made the correct decision and picked the right university/ destination. But boy am I glad that I picked Leeds, what a city!!! Although not a top tourist destination for many (even for the British), Leeds is such a liveable city especially for students. Almost everything is catered to students. There are student prices and discounts, student nights, student real estate agents, student everything!

Leeds Corn Exchange - Call Lane

Leeds Corn Exchange – Call Lane

There are so many great little bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants all through Leeds. For

Leeds City Markets - Best for cheap groceries!

Leeds City Markets – Best for cheap groceries!

quirky pubs and bars there is Call Lane which is lined with anything and everything you could want. There are also a lot of places that do live music gigs, one of my personal favourites is Belgrave Beer Hall. They also have some of the best pizza in Leeds!

And of course your time in Leeds would not be complete without experiencing the infamous Otley Run, at least once. This is a pub crawl that runs from Headingly down Otley Road toward the Uni and the city. If you join any clubs, teams or societies you will definitely be dragged along to an Otley run. The university halls also do their own Otley’s throughout the year. But they are a great way to meet people, get to know new friends and also discover the best pubs Leeds has to offer.

 

Australia Day Otley Run

Australia Day Otley Run

I won’t tell you everything, and there is plenty left to discover, but I will say this, Leeds will definitely provide you with the best night out. Leeds also has some fantastic shopping, the city is filled with large shopping centres – the most impressive is Trinity Leeds, which also has a great food hall in it full of street food and food stalls.

 

Learn more about QUT Student Exchange Options.

Why I Chose To Study Journalism Abroad at Sheffield Hallam University

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You’ve dreamt about studying journalism abroad for years, and now the time has come to choose the university you want to study at in the UK. There’s just one catch: you need to sort through all of QUTs compatible UK universities with a journalism degree to find the one that’s right for you. It sounds like a lot, but don’t stress! Whatever you want from an overseas university – whether it be an ease-of-travel location or accredited journalism experience – Sheffield Hallam University will be a definite contender for one of your top three preferences.

IT’S SITUATED IN A CHARMING, STUDENT-FRIENDLY CITY

Sheffield Hallam University is based in Sheffield; a city in which one in every ten residents is a student. With such a large amount of students in its populous, Sheffield has developed with its students in mind – it’s safe, green, cheap, independent and lively!

…WHICH BOASTS A VIBRANT STUDENT-FRIENDLY NIGHTLIFE

To cater to such a large student population, Sheffield has established a diverse, student-safe nightlife. Pubs, clubs, restaurants and cinemas offer discounts to anyone wielding a student card and student nights are held during the week, to avoid the weekend rush. Talk about convenience!

IT’S IN A STRATEGIC SWEET SPOT

Sheffield is at the midway point between London (England’s capital city) and Edinburgh (Scotland’s capital city), making it the perfect place to study at if you want to explore the UK.

IT FEATURES MOST FORMS OF NATIONAL AND INTERANTIONAL TRAVEL

Sheffield links into national motorways, national and local bus lines, inland waterway services and local cycling routes. It also boasts several major railway routes via the Sheffield railway station – perfect for those fleeting weekend getaways. To top it off, Sheffield also neighbours Leeds Bradford International airport, which flies to over 75 European destinations. Talk about it being too easy to travel abroad!

IT’S NOT TOO COLD

Temperatures average at about 15°C during Sheffield’s hottest month of the year, August, and dip down to an average of 3°C in its coldest month, January. Don’t get me wrong, those are some cold temperatures – but it’s not the wear-ten-pairs-of-socks kind of cold. Plus, the small variance in temperatures between the seasons ensures the transition from summer to winter (and back again) isn’t too much of an unsettling experience.

ITS PRIVATE ACCOMADATION IS CHEAP

The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment or complex in Sheffield is around £130 per week. This is a lot cheaper than the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the UK, which sits at around £185 per week. However, it’s still a fair amount, especially considering the conversion rate from dollars to pounds. The good news is Sheffield Hallam University has a solution for this – student accommodation!

…AND ITS STUDENT ACCOMADATION IS EVEN CHEAPER

Sheffield Hallam University’s student accommodation is grouped into three price ranges to ensure there’s housing suitable for every student’s budget. With prices starting at £81 per week, these properties are significantly cheaper than private accommodation. Plus, they often come with additional benefits, such as security, designated parking and a close proximity to campus.

IT’S A WORLD RENOWED UNIVERSITY

Sheffield Hallam University has a great reputation internationally, thanks to its success as one of Britain’s most progressive and innovative universities. Studying at a university with such a solid international reputation looks great on paper, and can even open the door to enriching connections, internships or jobs in the future!

IT FEATURES EXPERT EDUCATORS

All of the teaching staff at Sheffield Hallam University are experts in their academic subjects. This not only helps inspire student learning, but also allows you to make important real world connections.

IT HAS A DEDICATED INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE TEAM

Sheffield Hallam University’s international experience team rolls out the red carpet service before you even set foot in England. They offer a 24-hour turnover time for emails, advice on how to prepare for your semester abroad and – shocker – the team will even help you with your visa application. This great service doesn’t stop once you arrive, with the team operating an optional (and free!) airport pick-up service from Manchester Airport to Sheffield Hallam University. New international students are also welcome to join entertaining orientation events held by the international experience team to get to know their campus, settle in and meet other campus newbies.

IT’S GOT AN ACCREDITED JOURNALISM DEGREE

The BA (Honours) of Journalism is taught by award-winning journalists and academics – all of whom are members of the Association of Journalism Educators. And as if that’s wasn’t incentive enough, the course is also ranked in the top ten journalism degrees in the UK in the Guardian University Guide, 2016!

IT PREPARES ME FOR MY CAREER

All of Sheffield Hallam University’s courses are designed to maximise your job prospects – even during my semester as an international exchange student! Their BA (Honours) Journalism degree will help me get industry-ready with:

  • Practical experience, such as: creating a live online newspaper; writing articles for magazines; and producing TV and radio packages.
  • The option to undertake work experience at a media organisation for credit points – a great way to spice up my resume while overseas!
  • And, the option to specialise in areas such as sports journalism, feature writing and social media.

Heidi’s highlights in Leeds

Last September I embarked on the incredible experience of an exchange semester at Leeds University. I chose this University for a number of reasons: the availability of my Biomedical Science subjects, its high reputation within the UK, for the chance to live in Leeds and be close to the beautiful Lake District, and its prime location between London and old Scotland town, Edinburgh. Leeds exceeded my expectations not only with its beautiful campus but also the city of Leeds was full of great shops, markets and exciting events.

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The highlight of Leeds University is its student Union, which went above and beyond in all areas. The Union housed countless groups and clubs available to join as well as hosting several social events throughout the semester. Inside the union was a multitude of warm cafes and always students/staff to answer all of my questions about accommodation, subjects, timetables and transport around Leeds. At the beginning of semester, there was a program running called “give it a go”. It allowed you to try all sorts of activities in different groups to get a taste of what clubs you might like to join or to just have fun and make friends. It included pillow making, cooking, day trips to other Yorkshire cities, sport games, movie nights, fundraisers, horse riding and heaps more. Get Out Get Active was another fantastic group open to anyone that operated throughout semester. It hosted, hiking, kayaking, orienteering, cycling and climbing trips almost every weekend that you could tag along on.

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I joined the Hiking Committee and saw breathtaking sights around Yorkshire that I would probably never have seen on my own. We travelled to the Lake District for a weekend, and also many day trips to the Yorkshire Dales, Ilkey Moore, and more. The two images below are just a glimpse of these magnificent locations. I always used to think of London exclusively when I thought of England but my study abroad semester there showed me the English countryside and mountains are just as unique and exhilarating.

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I had a blast living at Oxley Residence, which was a dormitory style housing with beautiful buildings and grounds (pictured left). The rooms were single with an en-suite and a large desk, and while I hadn’t had any room in my suitcase for room décor, it soon felt like home. I shared a hallway and kitchen with 4 other exchange students and made life-long friends with them and the other students at Oxley. I personally didn’t experience culture shock, I easily slipped into life at Leeds. The only part I found particularly difficult was the weather. I had packed all my warmest winter clothes but soon learnt Australian winter clothes are not English winter clothes. Walking in the rain when its windy and cold without a proper coat is not fun even in beautiful places. To any students travelling to a European country for semester 2 exchanges, BRING A THICK WINTER COAT. It is a must have and don’t be fooled into thinking the jacket you wear in July in Brisbane is going to last you.

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At the time of my exchange semester, the Australian dollar to the British Pound was not favorable for those transferring to the pound. I saved a few thousand dollars for spending money not including rent since I knew the number would be halved when transferring to the pound. I used a travel card from my Australian bank, which I would recommend to travellers since you can transfer money via Internet banking to any currency (so I still had Euros when I travelled to other countries in Europe). The cost of living in Leeds is not nearly as expensive as in London, but due to the worth of the dollar it was still expensive compared to Brisbane. I recommend to future exchange students to make a budget – factoring in transport, food, any further travel and extras – and be strict on yourself to keep it. Living overseas I found the app International SOS – introduced to us in one of the pre-departure talks at QUT – very helpful. It gave me regular updates on the cities near me as well as serving as a sense of security.

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Study abroad was once in a lifetime experience that I recommend to all QUT students. It helped me grow as an independent person and a proactive student. It did fuel my wanderlust and I am now itching to travel again to more countries. Being a student in another country is so different to simply being a tourist. You have the chance to fully immerse yourself in the culture and lifestyle, and are given so many amazing opportunities that you share with people from all walks of life. My study abroad semester is a time I will always cherish; along with the friends I made there whom I cannot wait to meet again is some far off city! I highly, highly recommend exchange to any student with a sense of adventure, a longing for culture and a wish for a life-changing experience.

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Experiencing the University of Leeds

I chose University of Leeds upon numerous recommendations from friends both within Australia and abroad, and in particular the United Kingdom. It holds a reputation as a fine academic institution whilst also being fun and is located in a small but vibrant city in Northern England. My first impressions upon arrival were restricted to how grey and miserable the weather is. Leeds is also very student focused and as the semester had not yet started the city was relatively quiet. Leeds and England in general is generally very cold, windy and wet weather wise but this does not stop you from having a good time. University of Leeds has a mix of new and old facilities with some buildings being absolute nightmare mazes and some newer facilities such as the Laidlaw library being very well designed. The gym on campus was excellent and I highly recommend taking advantage of the free membership as part of the student accommodation contract. I lived in one of the more expensive student halls and it was fine. The room was quite small, with just a bed and tiny ensuite but had a shared kitchen and living room. It was quite like a hotel in some respects with a corridor with rooms which resulted in it lacking some sociability but it all depends on the people you share with.

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I studied the following law electives whilst on exchange: Introduction to the law of obligations, Contemporary Imprisonment, Foundations of International Law, Principles of British Constitutional Law and Law and Society. The academic intensity was very similar to QUT in terms of workload and expectations. I felt (and the teachers sometimes inferred) that exchange students would be marked a little easier than English students to accommodate for the variances in teaching styles and environment. The assessment was also delivered mostly in one big research essay due at the end of semester rather than split over multiple smaller items which I found to have both positives and negatives, especially as I spent the last two weeks doing nothing but writing essays. They also didn’t release the essay questions until late in the semester so if you did find the motivation you still couldn’t get a head start on them.

University of Leeds is in an excellent location as it is practically in the Leeds city centre. Leeds is also an excellent small town which offers a great nightlife and is only a couple of hours train ride from London. It has excellent sporting and extracurricular programs and there is always something to do on every night. It is also close to Manchester and Liverpool and is a good base for travelling within the UK and Europe.

Tips for a Successful Exchange

I budgeted about $15,000 AUD for the exchange and spent quite a bit over it. Cost of living in Leeds is generally not too bad but is all dependent on the exchange rate as I got murdered by the British Pound when I was in the UK. Leeds would probably be one of the cheaper cities in the UK and is comparable to Brisbane. If you spend time in London at all you will spend a lot of money as that place is a vacuum for cash. I used a 28 Degrees Mastercard for most purchases as it is an international specific credit card that has zero fees for international purchases. I also used a Citibank debit card for withdrawing cash as it also had zero fees for international use. In the past I have used travel cards but found the two aforementioned cards to be of much greater use due to the convenience and little delay in accessing funds.

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I did not experience a culture shock in the UK as the culture is quite similar to Australia. I did however experience and am still experiencing a huge come down from the trip so be prepared for that when you return to Australia. Biggest challenge I faced on exchange would have to be getting to class on Thursday mornings. One must have item on exchange is money and heaps of it as there is always plenty of stuff to spend it on like last minute World Cup Final tickets. Biggest travel tip would be to plan ahead your weekend travels nice and early as the semester goes very fast and you will soon run out of time to fit everything in especially as towards the end you may just want to enjoy the last few weeks in your adopted town. Exchange provided me with an unparalleled opportunity to experience life in a different country and now serves as a useful tool if I wish to seek employment in the UK. This was my second student exchange and I highly recommend it to anyone considering it. You won’t regret it.

Meeting people from all over the world

Having traveled a lot, including living overseas for six months in the past, I didn’t feel culture shock. I had no trouble adjusting at first, or in the first couple of months. My biggest issue was winter! I am a tropics girl through and through I have discovered, and the English winter, while a novelty and first, started to really get me down.

Loch in the Scottish Higlands

Loch in the Scottish Higlands

My favorite parts of the exchange were meeting people from all over the world and travelling with them. If I could pass on one piece of advice it would be don’t stick to other Aussies, get out there and socialise with locals and other exchange students from across the world. Travel on weekends, be organised with your university work so you don’t every have to turn a trip down!

I definitely grew as a person during my stay in Leeds, I discovered more about who I am as an individual, what I like in a city and what I don’t, I fell in love with London and Edinburgh, and learnt to further appreciate my home and Australia. For both academic and social reasons I wish I had done my exchange during undergrad, but I am so glad non-the-less to have had the opportunity and that I finally got to accomplish a life dream.

Grassy courtyard with big windows

 

Scottish Highlands

Scottish Highlands

The grounds of Sugarwell Court were great, a big old building with a grassy courtyard and big windows, especially nice on those one or two days we got snow. We also had a (very) basic common area with a pool table and the occasional movie night organised by the residential staff.

My exchange cost me more than I expected. The UK is an expensive place! It didn’t help that the Australian dollar depreciated a lot while I was on exchange. I found Leeds to have a similar cost of living as Brisbane, my rent was a little higher for what I got but it was worth the convenience of the University organising it. Of course the best bit of an exchange is getting out of the city and exploring the rest of the country, or other countries for that matter! This was by far the most expensive part; I would frequently spend a few hundred pounds on a weekend trip as trains and accommodations are expensive.

I definitely recommend getting a student rail card! It saves you a lot and trains are nicer than buses. I ended up spending over $10,000 in six months not including my flights. I had expected this but it’s still a bit of a strain and definitely worth saving a bit extra to be on the safe side. I didn’t end up opening a bank account, as it is very difficult to do so in the UK if you are only doing one semester, so I had to content with lots of fees on getting money from ATMs.

A few PR complications!

I got a taxi to my accommodation and initially was a little disappointed. It was further from the city centre then I had wanted and my flat, shared with five other girls, had a small kitchen and no living area! This was a bit of a dis-advantage as we had nowhere to sit and chill together and would frequently retreat to our rooms away from each other as that was the only place to relax in comfort. However though a living room would have been nice, I got to know most of my housemates (German, English, Chilean and Australian) well by the end and loved living with them.

I studied mainly marketing subjects (and one PR subject). This was a little disappointing as I chose Leeds Beckett because I was advised it was best for PR by QUT and seemed to have a lot of PR subjects. However once I arrived the Uni told me that only one of my many PR subjects I had originally matched to QUT subjects was actually available that semester. This process could definitely improve, the Leeds Beckett exchange office seemed very overwhelmed all the time. I found the quality of the lecturers and the academic intensity of Masters subjects at Leeds Beckett to be slightly less than that at QUT.

I found the teaching methods difficult to adjust to, the lectures and tutorials seemed far less organised and structured. However the assessment itself was quite challenging and not always directly related to what we had spoken about in class. I did like my one PR subject as we got to work with a real client to develop a communications plan for them, which was exciting.

Leeds Beckett seemed to be very good at organising activities for its exchange students; it also had great campuses, one right in the heart of the city and one in a beautiful suburb that was very English. A few more weekend trips would have been nice. The facilities were great and everyone was friendly.

Exploring London – Endless possibilities

I didn’t really know where I wanted to go on exchange however having completed a short-term exchange to Croatia I thought maybe I should try something a bit different. I have travelled to the UK before but hadn’t explored much beyond its beautiful capital, London. I had always wanted to try living in the UK and I was keen to go to a country that had high academic expectations (I’m studying my masters) so I settled in on the idea of England as my exchange destination. Leeds Beckett was suggested by QUT for Public Relations students, and the choice was made.

London Bridge and The Tower of London

London Bridge and The Tower of London

When I arrived I flew into London. My god I love this city. It is a hive of activity and I can feel the adrenalin pumping through my veins from the pure excitement of walking the streets and exploring its endless possibilities. After a week I got the train to Leeds. It was, as expected, not quite London. However it seemed to have a thriving student population and was a city that had a growing cultural scene