I experienced some culture shock, but not as badly as I expected. The first couple of days I kept questioning whether coming on exchange was the right thing to do, was worried that my housemates were too rowdy for me and would spend a lot of time alone. Once I got to know them, though, I got over it and began to enjoy my time a lot more. I didn’t really have any issues with safety, I just used the same amount of caution I use in Brisbane and never ran into any issues. The only other challenge I had to deal with was not being able to do the one subject I really needed to do, but that was more of an annoyance that I sorted out quickly.
My main advice to future exchange students is to be prepared. Be prepared to miss people from back home and make sure you have a skype account. Be prepared to get questioned quite a bit about coming into the UK, it feels scary at the time, but just stay calm and they will let you in. Also, don’t waste any opportunity on exchange. If someone asks if you want to do something or go somewhere, provided it’s not illegal, just say yes. Take the opportunity to experience as much as you can because it will be over before you know it.
Overall, I think exchange has irrevocably changed me as a person. I am much more confident in who I am and the kinds of people I want to have around me. I made lifelong friends I can’t wait to visit. I’m also much more independent than I was which made moving back in with my parents a little bit of a downer because I’m ready to take the next step in my life. Professionally, my exchange solidified my desire to move and work in the UK and a drive to work hard and get there. I would wholeheartedly recommend the Student Exchange Program to every student that asked.