There’s no bad weather, just bad clothes

Thomas, M., Bachelor of Business and Law
University of Glasgow (Semester 1 & 2, 2016)

Study:
The standard and method of study is very similar to QUT. The one big difference however is that most lectures are not recorded. Otherwise the study experience is just like QUT, in that there is a mix of tutorials, seminars, and lectures and there are similar expectations placed on students.

Hillhead campus in November taken from Argyle St

Campus:
The UoG (University of Glasgow) campus at Hillhead is as stunning as the pictures show. Not only is it beautiful but there are plenty of amenities including a gym, two student union complexes, numerous cafes, libraries, and study areas.

Accommodation:
In my first semester I stayed at Firhill student accommodation. Firhill, like Murano, is a long way from campus and is unfortunately not in a vibrant part of the city. It does however offer well-appointed accommodation with (tiny) ensuites however it is quite a distance from West End and campus which becomes annoying especially when the Glasgow weather sets in.

During my second semester I stayed in Kelvinhaugh student accommodation. This is a much better option, although not as modern and without personal bathrooms. Kelvinhaugh is ideally located 10 minutes walk from campus in the suburb of Finneston. Kelvinhaugh Street Student accommodation is surrounded by cafes, bars and Kelvingrove Park, and is a short walk from the city and Byres Road in the West End.

The other accommodation option to consider is Student Apartments. They have the best location as they are located on campus in the heart of West End. However it is highly sought after so you may need get accepted. That being said, everyone I knew that had stayed there loved it.

Costs:
On the whole I found Glasgow to be cheaper than Brisbane, particularly in regards to food (groceries and eating out). I set myself a strict budget of 40 pounds per week (roughly $80 AUD), but this meant that I could travel around Europe on my weekends.

Camping on the Isle of Skye (taken in March): wouldn’t recommend in Winter/Autumn

Travel:
There is plenty to see around Scotland and there are a number of tours set up specifically for exchange students. These are great as an easy way to see the country however it can be better to do some things on your own and at your own pace. If you are old enough renting a car is one of the best ways to see the highlands.

The downside about Glasgow was that its airport is relatively small so there wasn’t a lot of flights going in and out to mainland Europe or the rest of the UK. On the upside there is a bus that travels to the Stansted airport (just outside London) which is super cheap, 5-10 pounds. Added bonus there are heaps of cheap flights to Europe from Stansted airport.
Top Tips:

  • If you can only go for one semester, my recommendation would go in Semester 2 (January – June) more time to travel, plus you get to experience what winter is actually like.
  • Definitely attend all the exchange and introduction events they are a great way to meet people
  • Join clubs and societies, get involved, its a great way to increase your chances of meeting Scottish students
  • See as much of Scotland as possible don’t be put off by the weather (“There is no bad weather, only bad clothes)

I cannot recommend Glasgow enough and if you go you are guaranteed to have a great time!

Experience vibrant city culture and historic architecture in beautiful Scotland

University of Glasgow

Location: The West End, Glasgow, Scotland

Why here?: Ranked in the top 1% of world’s universities, culture, music, entertainment, travel.

The University of Glasgow was founded in 1451 and is ranked in the top 1% of the world’s universities. Scotland offers a world-renowned education system – there are more world-class universities per head of population than anywhere else in the world! The University of Glasgow’s campus is filled with incredible historic architecture, centred on the landmark neo-Gothic Main Building. You can choose from a variety of different study areas, working alongside other British and International students in lectures, practical workshops and tutorials. The International Office offers support and guidance throughout your exchange, and can help out with finding accommodation for your semester (or two!) abroad.

Glasgow loves its music scene, hosting all the artists you want to hear. Located in The West End, the university is perfectly situated if you love boutique coffee places, bars and shops. The area holds several festivals throughout the year, including an International Comedy Festival. Being a student you might be looking for some cheaper entertainment, and Glasgow has you covered. There are plenty of museums, galleries and parks to explore in the area, free of charge. After hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2014, Glasgow is also set with state-of-the-art sporting facilities.

With Glasgow as a base, you’re in an ideal location for exploring the breathtaking scenery and spectacular castles of Scotland. If you’re looking to get out Glasgow for a weekend, Edinburgh is about a 1 hour drive, and the English border only 2 hours away. You can even fly to London in only 4 hours! You can also explore national parks and the Clyde Coast just outside of the city.

Photos from University of Glasgow Facebook page.

My Glasgow Highlights and Advice

Ashleigh: University of Glasgow, Semester 1, 2016

There are so many things I should put in this section, but my top five highlights (in no particular order) would be going to a beach and hot spa in Reykjavik, Iceland in the middle of Winter, the torchlight procession at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, New Year’s Eve from Westminster Bridge, spending my birthday looking over Barcelona and taking a sunset cruise in Santorini!

Looking over Barcelona on my Birthday

Looking over Barcelona on my Birthday

Sunset Cruise in Santorini

Sunset Cruise in Santorini

Tips and Advice

Firstly, budget more than you estimate you’ll need as a contingency and have some Australian currency spare in case your wallet goes missing or you need more changed over quickly. Then, be flexible when you travel so you can spend as little as possible while still getting the most out of it. Most importantly, no matter where you go or how much travel you do, don’t get stuck with people you find from back home. Go out, get involved in the culture and meet people from everywhere! This is a piece of advice I was given on my flight over and something which I will always take with me because if you stick with the same people, you’ll probably keep doing the same thing and won’t really experience the culture as much as you could.

New Years Eve in London

New Years Eve in London

Life at the University of Glasgow

Ashleigh: University of Glasgow, Scotland – Semester 1, 2016

I went on exchange to Glasgow for two semesters. While overseas for eleven months I travelled and learned a lot about different cultures, different ways of teaching and, most importantly, I learned a lot about myself as a person.

Scotland/United Kingdom is a great place to go as you have a very similar cultural background, but you’re close to so many different countries which have different lifestyles and are just incredible to see! Cost-wise, travel itself was pretty cheap once I arrived. As long as you’re flexible with dates and times and can get away with just cabin baggage and you’re willing to stay in hostels, you can have a weekend away for no more than $150! Of the eleven months I was away, I spent about three of those travelling and I still wish I saw more.

The cost of living wasn’t too bad in my opinion, but I still live with my parents so I don’t have much to compare it to. Some leisure activities (for example, movies) can be more expensive, but it’s generally around the same pricing as back home.

Part of the beautiful university campus

Part of the beautiful university campus

The view from campus

The view from campus

I stayed in halls that were about a 45-minute walk from the university campus, but my main reason for choosing it was because they were catered and we received two meals a day. The halls were nothing fancy, but I got one of the largest rooms which was great, and I had my own bathroom. The campus, on the other hand, was amazing. The main building is from the 1800s and on top of probably the only hill in Glasgow so you got a view of most of the city from there.

There were more food courts than at QUT (including a cafeteria in the library!) and they all had snacks, sandwiches and drinks at the least. Then there were two student unions which ran a lot of events and had bars and a nightclub, so there was always something happening if you got sick of studying.

The timetables were slightly different, with up to three lectures a week and a tutorial every second week. But the tutorials were much smaller, meaning that it felt more like a discussion rather than a lesson and I much preferred that.

We had snow one weekend!

We had snow one weekend!

My room in Glasgow

My room in Glasgow

Living in one of the Prettiest Countries: Exchange in Strathclyde, Scotland

I originally chose to do my year exchange at Strathclyde University because I had never left Australia before and I wanted to go to an English speaking country with a similar culture. The Scot’s are pretty similar to Australian’s, they’re laid back, super friendly, love their beer and footy (well soccer, but that’s not an argument you’ll win over there), and, like us, don’t speak “proper” English. Basically, I felt right at home.

Pic 1

Glasgow is a perfect city to do exchange if you want to travel. It’s smack bang in the middle of the UK, so you can get anywhere in Britain by bus. Plus, thanks to the beautifully cheap airlines that are Ryanair and EasyJet, flying is crazy. Like I’m talking €10 to pretty much any city in Europe. It’s also a perfect city for students. There are three universities in Glasgow, Strathclyde, Caledonian and the University of Glasgow so there’s a massive student culture. Glasgow is one of Britain’s best cities for night life and live music, and there’s always student discounts and, even though Strathclyde isn’t as pretty or famous as Glasgow Uni, it’s smack bang in the city centre so you don’t have to worry about getting an Uber after a night out or catching transport to go shopping.

Pic 2

The Uni itself had both good and bad points for me. Firstly, because I was doing a full year, but beginning in their second semester, I had a little trouble with administration. I was unable to register for my second semester there for almost the first 4 weeks which was a massive pain because I missed quite a bit of assessment and they’re not big on extensions over there. Another issues with the Uni, which didn’t have too much affect on me because I wasn’t overly concerned with doing exceedingly well, is that in some subjects don’t have CRA’s for assessment. If you’re going over there to pick up your GPA and do really well, that will be a huge frustration, because it’s not standardised at all. However, if you’re going over for more of the experience, like I did, but also want to do semi-well, the pass rate for subjects is 40% so that’s a huge plus.

Pic 3

Strathy also has campus residences, so you don’t have to deal with home owners or strict living rules or neighbours. It’s nothing fancy, but definitely more convenient, safe and perfect for making friends quickly. The halls usually have 4-5 people to a flat with a shared kitchen and bathroom. There is 24hr security and maintenance so if anything goes wrong or needs to be replaced it happens pretty quickly. The only thing with campus living, is it’s mainly for first years or internationals. If you’re wanting to meet and properly get to know Scottish people, living on campus isn’t going to help. But, it is so good for making friends from all over the world and perfect for travelling purposes… I didn’t pay for accommodation in Italy or Germany, went to Lithuania for Christmas, and popped into Bali on the way home to visit a friend.

Pic 4

Financially, although the Australian Dollar to Pound rate is ridiculously crap, living expenses is pretty similar, especially if you shop at Aldi or Tesco. So long as you’ve saved up enough to do everything you want to do, and personally I recommend also getting the HELP loan, you’ll be fine.

My one tip is to come to Europe before your exchange starts or have a few weeks travelling planned after, because it’s too cheap to travel around not to make the most of it. Also, make the most of the day or weekend trips offered by the Uni or societies. It’s an awesome chance to get to know more people and see Scotland or other places without having to be in charge or the schedule.

Pic 5

Basically just get involved in everything, put yourself out there and go a little crazy, no one knows you, so who cares. I honestly couldn’t recommend exchange, or Scotland, enough. 2015 was the best year of my life!

Self-Budgeting

The accommodation I had was located in a great part of Glasgow about fifteen minute walk from the campus.  The building itself was a four floor tenement with a fantastic view over the city.  Facilities included a bathroom, toilet, well-equipped kitchen and laundry.  The room sizes depended on which room you decided to pay for but most were adequately sized.

I didn’t really have a solid plan for saving.  In total I went with about $8000, but didn’t have to pay for flights so this amount was more than enough.  I spent around £60 a week on food and drink (including alcohol) but this will come to more or less depending on how much you like eating out.  A good quality meal can be found in most places for between £15 and £20.  Accommodation came to about £120 a week.

Most weeks I tried to stick to about £140 a week (not including accommodation) for everything but this will increase depending on how much you want to go out on weekends and how much travel you would like to do.  Keep in mind the university will have you pay the total of your accommodation amount by a month into the semester so you WILL NEED this money available.

View from the window of my kitchen on a really, really foggy morning!

View from the window of my kitchen on a really, really foggy morning!

 

The cost of living in general is cheaper than Brisbane but the exchange rate was a huge killer.   Groceries for example will come to less a week than in Australia but because the amount is paid in GBP it ends up being roughly equal or a little more than the same amount of groceries would cost in Brisbane.

If you are planning to set up a bank account when you get there, forget it.  Most banks I tried told me I could only set up an account with them if my visa was for 12 months, but the student visitor visa only lasts 6 months.  As I didn’t expect this I just ended up withdrawing my budgeted amount once a fortnight from an ATM.  This isn’t recommended though as it will end up costing you around $400 in fees.  Try and set up a traveler’s card (or something similar) with your bank at home before going over.

Always have a laptop

The one must have item is a laptop so you can keep in touch with family and friends back home.  The whole experience is very exciting but you will have down time when you aren’t travelling, studying or partying and you will begin to miss everyone at home!  My one travel tip is to always go with a friend if you are going somewhere after dark.  It doesn’t matter how smart you are or how able you are to navigate yourself around, you are in a foreign country and something could always go wrong. I flew over with Qantas and bought travel insurance through World Nomads.  Both companies did their jobs well.

Halloween! I’m in the middle in blue.

Halloween! I’m in the middle in blue.

Personally, the exchange experience made me more willing to put myself ‘out there’ for people, and to communicate with people I’ve never met before.  You will meet a lot of people overseas and you won’t learn anything new if you keep to yourself!  Academically, I took on subjects that may have been a little out of my competency but pushed myself to ensure I learned the content.  This helped me understand the value of hard work while at university: sometimes, you’re not just going to understand something straight away.  You need to keep chipping away at it.

Professionally, exchange made me realise the competition for graduate spots once uni is over.  There are millions of students out there, and sometimes you forget this while at QUT.  Going overseas exposed me to other students around the world who are all fighting for a job once they’ve finished studying. I would definitely recommend the exchange experience!  There’s the opportunity to travel, meet plenty of great people and learn new things about yourself.

Campus looking like Harry Potter

Christmas market ice-skating in the town centre.

Christmas market ice-skating in the town center

Glasgow is a cold, windy city that rains a lot!  While the weather is average by Australian standards, the city makes up for it with a fantastic music and cultural scene.  There are always bands to see, venues to go to and bars to enjoy.  There are plenty of students floating around with lots of talent, lending the place a really exciting feel.  There was always something going on!  The people are very friendly, although it might take a while for you to get used to the accent.

While the campus at QUT is new and for the most part has primarily modern architecture, the main campus at UoG looks like something out of Harry Potter: it’s very old and consists of many winding corridors and spiralling stairs. It is the fourth oldest university in the English speaking world!  The facilities are top notch, with a number of well-equipped libraries, sporting venues and lecture theatres.

Lecture in a converted church

UoG paid a lot of attention to students and made a real effort to ensure we were receiving a quality education.  The tutors and lecturers were always available and willing to engage with class members, and the small class sizes meant that there was always quality discussion.  Two active student societies also meant there were plenty of student events going on at cheap prices in locations close to the student accommodation, which allowed for entertainment all the time without needing to worry about transport. The university is fairly strong in all of its departments but the schools of Law and Medicine in particular are very strong and receive large amounts of funding

One of the lecture halls for Jurisprudence, held in a converted church.

One of the lecture halls for Jurisprudence, held in a converted church.

While I was in Glasgow, I studied Labour Law, Jurisprudence, Business Law and Advanced International Law.  Studying over there was much more intense than at QUT: there were three to four lectures for each subject a week, and a tutorial once every three weeks.  The study in general required much more reading and discussion of the topics rather than focusing on answering questions after attending lectures.  End of semester exams were worth 75% so the rewards/price of studying/failing to study were much higher than at QUT.  In general I would say the teaching method over there was much more focused on ensuring students completely understood the theory compared to QUT’s method of ensuring students could use the theory in a practical situation.

Say ‘yes’ to everything about Scotland

One of my favorite view at Scotland

One of my favorite view at Scotland

Before I left, I was concerned I wouldn’t understand anyone’s accents! And listening to Ewan McGregor wasn’t enough preparation! At first I felt like I was really rude not understanding anyone but after a few days it kicked in, and if anything I have now come home saying new slang words that my friends don’t understand and saying Aye and Wee before just about everything! I cannot find the words to say how much I truly loved my time in Scotland. It is a county full of history and culture, the people are just amazing and I have made some unforgettable friends from all over the country.

The Study Abroad program has given me an opportunity to develop my skills in Journalism and expand my knowledge of world news and stories. I have never had so much fun and never felt so confident and excited about my chosen career path. Suddenly I am more aware of the world around me, I was able to travel, meet amazing people and see some incredible places! I would encourage any students embarking on their overseas exchange to say yes to everything, really open up and put yourself out there, be willing to try haggis and Black Pudding despite the ingredients, get involved with everything the university has to offer and over all experience everything you possibly can.