When in Reykjavik – Tips for travellers

So after living in the heart of Reykjavik, Iceland for the past few months I have accumulated a bunch of tips for those newbies here:

Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur – the most famous hot dog stand in Iceland! So it took me a few weeks to convince myself that I wanted to stand in line for half an hour for a hot dog, but it had to be done. The hot dog I must admit was pretty great; complete with fried onions, regular onions, ketchup, mustard and remoulade. One hotdog is 420ISK (~$5) and a small cup of soda is 220ISK (~$2.50), so it’s one of the cheaper places to buy lunch around town.

Hallgrímskirkja is a Lutheran parish church in Reykjavík, Iceland. At 73 metres, it is the largest church in Iceland. It was 9000 ISK (~$10) to get an elevator to the top. It was such an amazing view, even on a cloudy day. I think it’s worth it, There are no other buildings in the area that high so you can see the ocean and the mountains and the entire city, even the airport.

 

Perlan (the pearl) – a short walk from the city. Free entry to the observation deck and I would recommend going at night. There’s also a revolving restaurant on the top level.

Blue Lagoon – locals often say this is a tourist trap, but honestly I loved it. The cheapest entry price is 40 Euros (if you can find your way there). It was very clean and well organised and unlike anything else I’ve seen before. I’ve been there twice now and loved it more each time.

Puffin watch – I went on a puffin boat tour. It was about $50 with Special Tours. We saw a couple of the birds but it wasn’t mesmerising or anything. I will admit I went on the last day before the stop the tours due to the birds migrating, so maybe it wasn’t so great because they had all gone off to sea. It was interesting and nice to see the city from a different perspective, not something worth doing if you only have a few days here, but it was a nice tour all the same if you’re looking for cheap things to do.

Sea Angling – I went sea angling in the last weekend it was available before the close for winter. I had a lot of fun, even though it was freezing. So I would recommend taking gloves, scarves and beanies definitely. They give you raincoats so your clothes don’t get wet or smell of fish and the crew handle all the fish so you don’t actually have to get your hands dirty. I’ve never been fishing in the ocean and it was heaps of fun. The the crew cooked up all the fish everyone caught and some potatoes on the BBQ on board and we got to eat a small feast as we made our way back to shore. A tour was I think about $50, but I’m sure if you want to get more hands on there are other options.

The Golden Circle – I was lucky enough that my parents came to visit me about half way through my stay! We went on a tour of the Golden Circle on probably the worst day of the year. It hadn’t rained so much in Iceland in a long time so we were soaking wet all day, bit I still had a great time and it’s a beautiful drive if you don’t have enough time in Iceland to drive the ring road.

 

Clarice’s South Korean Short-Term Exchange Experience

Clarice: Seoul, South Korea – Short Term Program 2016

As a student in Seoul, I find it to be so much cheaper than being a student in Brisbane; especially when it comes to our daily food and caffeine needs. I would barely spend over 10,000won (about AUD11-12) a day while I was studying there and it would cover all my breakfast, lunch and dinner needs. If you’re lazy enough, you could always buy convenience store lunchboxes (which can have things like rice, meat and kimchi) for 3,000-3,800won (AUD4-5) and it is very filling.

Samgyeopsal

And of course, when one is in Seoul, one would need to try the famous “Samgyeopsal” (or “pork belly”) which is the slab of meat in the middle. I find that Korean meats taste vastly different (and honestly, a lot better) from Australian meats. For this meal, we usually barbecue the meats on the plate and accompany it with a few drinks (no guesses as to what those drinks are) and lots of lettuce, to balance the flavour of meat and vegetables. Generally, a meal like this would cost about AUD70, but I had it for about 30,000won (around AUD32) for 3 people.

Painfully cheap….and something I will never get while I’m back in Brisbane.

I would say that Seoul is a wonderful place for an overseas study experience, because it is so different from Australia in terms of culture and student life, and EWHA Woman’s University is an amazing place to find out a lot more about feminist issues (such as the unending justice for the “comfort” women during the Japanese invasion) and that, being feminist does not necessarily mean the Western view of loud and proud feminism, but rather, a social issue that has to be faced with quiet dignity in order to make the world a better place for not only women, but men too.

One of the many delicious lunch that we students would often go out for once morning classes are over.

One of the many delicious lunch that we students would often go out for once morning classes are over.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the male professors and most of the male students who were there for the co-ed summer program were also genuine feminists and supported many social issues that women still face.

My time in EWHA has certainly changed me for the better, and helped me in recognising many aspects of myself as a woman that I never knew existed. I will always fondly remember my time there as a student and if given the chance, would not hesitate to do a longer exchange program next time round. I also highly recommend the EWHA Woman’s University International Co-ed Summer College to anyone interested, because I guarantee you will come away learning so much more than just academically.

Does Clarice’s experience interest you? Find out more about QUT’s Short Term Study Options.

Our wonderful history class, with a few people missing, and Prof Michael in the middle. We’re standing in front of EWHA's very own museum which houses a private collection of art and sculpture pieces donated by the alumni of EWHA.

Our wonderful history class, with a few people missing, and Prof Michael in the middle. We’re standing in front of EWHA’s very own museum which houses a private collection of art and sculpture pieces donated by the alumni of EWHA.

Friends for Life at San Jose State University

Charlie: San Jose State University, California, USA – Semester 1, 2016

Hi! I’m Charlie Shaw-Feather and I am studying a Bachelor of Engineering, majoring in Computer and Software Systems. I studied at San Jose State University (SJSU) for the spring semester, 2016.

As I am writing this I am on my way back to San Jose for a holiday to catch up with the friends that I made and the relationships I hope to last a lifetime.

Whilst on exchange I stayed at SJSU’s International house. This was a college owned house situated just off campus for international students, welcoming students from all countries. This formed an integral foundation for the time that I spent in San Jose. They hosted a plethora of different activities and events to engage students allowing them to get out of their comfort zone. When I stayed there was a little over 60 residents, about 12 of which were from the US.

I set out on exchange to experience as much of American college culture as I could and what better way than to join a fraternity. The colleges orientation week coincides with ‘rush week’ which is the time that fraternities and sororities seek new members. ‘Friends for life’; is one of the mottos that is prevalent throughout the Greek (fraternity/sorority) community and it is most certainly true.

The left picture is Tower Hall, an event building on SJSU’s campus. On the right, is Stanley Park in Vancouver, Canada.

The left picture is Tower Hall, an event building on SJSU’s campus. On the right, is Stanley Park in Vancouver, Canada.

 

The whole community is very accepting and it is an extremely rewarding experience. One of the great parts about being in a fraternity is the philanthropic events. For example, Kappa Sigma, the fraternity that I am a member of hosts a series of events each semester to support military veterans.

When planning my finances for my travels I had to not only account for my student exchange but I also had to plan for my short term program before hand as well; I was overseas for 8 months in total. QUT has plenty of different support systems for students including OS-HELP loans and bursaries. Without QUT’s support I would not have been able to experience as much of American culture as I did.

When paying for living expenses one of the reasons that I chose to stay at I-House was that they offered a meal plan. This meal plan was for 7 days a week with extra dining credits to spend on campus restaurants outside of the dining hall. It should be noted that the food was nothing to call home about, other than to complain…

To find out more about QUT Student Exchange Programs, click here!

Life in Sweden & at KTH

Peter: Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Sweden, Semester 1, 2016

Through the QUT Exchange program I had the opportunity to spend not one, but two full semesters abroad in Stockholm, Sweden. I had done some backpacking through South East Asia in the past, but I had never left Australia for more than two months and I had never called another country home. Looking back on it now, I didn’t exactly realise the size of the challenge at hand – moving across the planet to a place where I don’t know anyone or understand the language – but that challenge along with every amazing experience has made it the best year of my life. Aside from learning the ins and outs of Stockholm, by the end of my exchange I had the opportunity to visit 17 countries and meet some incredible people.peter_davis1

My host university in Stockholm was Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan. Sound like a mouthful? Thankfully it’s also called the Royal Institute of Technology in English, but let’s just call it KTH. KTH was founded in 1827 and today is one of the largest and most prestigious technical institutions in Scandinavia. Universities work a little differently in Sweden and don’t tend to offer the same courses in competition with each. In Stockholm, Karolinska acts as the main medical school, Stockholm University specialises in subjects like Law and Business, and KTH is full of the country’s brightest engineers, programmers and scientists (among other things).

Europe has a bachelor-master system in which most people complete five years of study. In Sweden, all students are required to study their bachelor’s degree in Swedish, and their two year masters degree in English. Because of this, I was able to study equivalent units for my four year degree in Australia from fourth and fifth year units in Sweden. The KTH Main Campus was built over 100 years ago and is filled with beautiful red brick buildings, with the main courtyard being something akin to Hogwarts.

peter_davis2Our accommodation was organised through KTH and provided by the state-run SSSB (Stockholm student accommodation). Lappkärsberget or ‘Lappis’ as it is so affectionately known isn’t located on the KTH campus, but is a short walk away from the campus of Stockholm University, which is only one subway stop away. The area houses several thousand people, mostly in corridor rooms. My room was spacious and had its own bathroom and a lot of storage, and each corridor has a kitchen and common area shared between 13 people. In true Swedish style, my neighbourhood was not only near a subway stop, but also surrounded by forest and a short walk from the lake.

Discover more about QUT’s Student Exchange Programs here!

Highlights of my Time in Japan

Jackie: Kansai Gaidai University, Osaka, Japan – Semester 1, 2016

At KGU you have three accommodation options; you can apply for a homestay, apply to live in a dorm or you can find your own options. I chose to live in a dorm because I had never lived independently before. I had always wondered what on campus living was like and it was well worth it. I made close friends with the other girls I lived with and it was a nice area to be in. It wasn’t too far from school or a grocery store or the bus.jackie_4

The highlight of exchange in Japan was the amazingly rich and diverse culture. One day I would be in Osaka (which is known in Japan for being the life of the party) exploring all the weird and quirky things. The next day I would be in Kyoto exploring the incredibly significant and important government building, learning about all of Japans history from my friends who are smarter than me and staring in awe at the Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) wondering how a flower could be so beautiful. (Side note: also the food was amazing. My friends and I still message each other about how much we miss Udon and Sashimi).jackie_3

My exchange was amazing and if I could do it again or go back and extend my trip I would. I learnt so much about myself and other cultures, which I would never have known otherwise. I can’t recommend Japan enough as a host country. I feel like I have seen so much of Japan because of my exchange and for that I will be forever grateful.

Interested in going on a QUT Student Exchange? Learn more here. Or drop in and see our exchange ambassadors at Gardens Point in A Block.

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.

7 Questions from Americans

There is no question that there are many cultural differences between Australians and Americans. Being the complete other side of the world from on another, we experience different climates, holidays, and ultimately very different lives.

I have been in the United States for just under a month now, and have met a countless number of young American men and women in my time living at Michigan State University. In my time here thus far, I have come to find that nothing lights up the eyes of an American college student like hearing the sweet sound of an Australian accent.

After they get over the initial shock of being in the presence of someone who truly is from the land down under, the questions start coming. As a result, I have compiled a list of seven of the more humourous questions that have been asked of me in the past month:

1: Where is your accent from?
You never truly notice your native accent until you are placed in a completely different environment. I have been in elevators, Uber rides, classes, shops and restaurants where people are quite visibly astonished (and most of the time fascinated)  by the way that us Australians speak. I’ve turned it into somewhat of a game, where when asked this question I let them guess first, and have had many responses ranging from England to Germany, and Turkey to Mars.

2: Sorry, what did you say?
Often the other Australian exchange students and myself have found that we need to repeat ourselves in order for people to understand what we are saying. Whether its a “Hey, how’s it garn” to “Can I please have a water?”, many Americans struggle with understanding our accent. But both parties in the conversation end up laughing about it – it’s all fun and games.

3: Want to throw another shrimp on the barbie, mate?
To this one I always use a canned response – “We call them prawns, not shrimp.”

4: Do you know Flume?
From the very first house party (of which there are many) that I have attended so far, a lot of American students have asked if we know Flume. Whether they meant personally or his music I am still not sure, but that is a frequent question that I and the other Aussies abroad often get asked.

5: Have you tried (Taco Bell/Chipotle/Conrads)?
Americans are very fond of their token fast food chains. In answering this question, I have to admit that all of the above are incredible foods for the early hours of the morning after a night out, but I would question their quality at any other time of day.

6: Have you seen snow?
Personally I haven’t seen real snow before, which gets most Americans rather excited. Being in Michigan, I often get the warning that I am “in for a real treat” with a cold Michigan winter.

7: Do you celebrate Christmas?
I saved my favourite question until last. It is hard to say why this question amused me so much, and for them to think we are too far removed from the rest of the world to know about Christmas. In their defense, this question came soon after me admitting we do not celebrate Thanksgiving, but it has nonetheless been my favourite question to date.

There is a real difference between our cultures, but at the end of the day the Australian-American interaction is an educational, hilarious, and absolutely amazing one. I honestly can’t wait to see what they have to ask next.

Until next time!

Discovering the University of Essex

I went on exchange to the University of Essex in the second semester of 2015. The University of Essex is situated in Colchester which has claimed to be the oldest town in Britain. Colchester is a relatively small, historic town but is fast-growing. When I first arrived, I was surprised to see how small Colchester is compared to Brisbane as I already thought Brisbane was a small town. It is also home to the Colchester Castle. Colchester is only a 45 minute train ride to London and an 1 hour bus ride to Stamford Airport. This makes it easy to take weekend trips to London. Ryanair , a budget airline mainly flies from Stamford Airport to a majority of the European destinations which is very convenient when travelling during the semester.

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The University

The University of Essex is home to 10,500 students coming from 130 different countries. The nationalities are very diverse so you won’t feel as you are the only foreigner. Many facilities available to the students such as a gym, sports centre, theatre, night club, hairdresser, campus store, banks, restaurants, post office, bars and many more. There is also a market day happening every week where people come onto campus and set up stores selling a variety of things such as sushi, flowers, curry, cake, old record CDs, t-shirts and many more as the stores change every week. There are also two lakes right beside the campus if anyone wanted to enjoy a nice day out on the grass.

Accommodation

The dorms are situated in the campus which makes it very convenient to get to class. It usually only took me 2-5mins to get to class from my dorm depending on where the classroom is. I shared my dorm with 6 other people of the same gender where we get our own bathroom and bedroom but share the kitchen. I chose to stay in the Courts as I appreciate having my own bathroom. The room was quite pleasant where a desk, chair, bed and bedside table is provided. However, you will have to provide your own bedding. There are also heaters in every room, even the bathrooms in the United Kingdom, so there is no need to worry about freezing in winter. The kitchen was supplied with a kettle, rice cooker, fridge and cabinets. You will have to buy your own toaster if you wanted toast and any other cooking utensils. The kitchen are cleaned once a week and garbage are emptied every day. However, it is up to you to clean your bathroom and bedroom. The other option is the Towers where rent is a bit cheaper but you share a dorm with 12 people and have no private toilet. However, it allows you to meet more people and there are parties happening every week at the Towers.

Study

I studied law subjects on exchange which were pretty easy to match with the units back at QUT. The University of Essex has three terms instead of two semesters and give different assessments to the exchange students. I was only required to complete one 100% essays for each subject. pic 2The University of Essex also has less students as compared to QUT, thus their classes are smaller as there is usually only about 30 people enrolled in one subject. For each law subject, I only had a 2 hour lectorial. However, it is required of the students to tap into their class every lesson to mark attendance and failure to attend a certain number of class will require an explanation. I recommend booking transport such as buses, trains and flights in advance as they go up in prices as much as 4x if you book last minute. Also be aware of pickpockets in Europe as they are everywhere and are very creative in the way they try distract and steal your things.

Finance

I budgeted around $15,000 for exchange as I travelled before and after the semester. I also travelled to Asia after leaving Europe. The only way budget way to get around town is taking the bus which is more expensive compared to Brisbane. There is no card system such as the oyster card which is used in London and everyone is required to buy paper tickets when they board the bus. There are also no concession fares. Food is around the same cost depending on where you shop and what you are buying. It is a bit cheaper to shop in Aldi then Tesco but it is a bit inconvenient to get to Aldi in Colchester. There is also a shop called Poundland where everything is one pound. You can find a variety of things from pasta sauce to plates, cups and Halloween costumes so it’s highly recommended to go shop there for essentials before you go to Tesco to buy the rest. I used a Citibank debit card because there is no withdrawal fee. I also had a travel card from Commonwealth for back up but I mainly used my Citibank card.

Overall

Going on exchange has given me a valuable experience which I would not be able to gain otherwise. Being able to live in another country for three months was very valuable as it has made me more independent, mature and grown up in many different ways. There were many issues where I had to make my own decisions and figure out how to solve it. Unexpectedly, my biggest dilemma throughout my exchange is what I should cook for my next meal. I also appreciate the opportunity to travel to many different countries I would recommend anyone to go on exchange as it provides a rare opportunity to live in a different country and gives you a chance to explore and visit different countries before you are stuck in a 9-5 full-time job. I had second thoughts before going due to many different issues but decided to go in the end and had no regrets.

 

Life in Canada as an exchange student

I chose my partner institution as I have always wanted to go to Canada and it was a very beautiful campus with a well renowned business school.

My first impressions where that Kingston was very beautiful. The only issue I had was that I arrived two weeks before uni commenced and being a small university town it was quite desolate.

Kingston, Ontario and the whole of Canada are completely picturesque- just like off a post card. Some of the most incredible landscapes and so much water!!!pic1

Queens itself is beautiful the entire campus is old limestone as it is built in the limestone city (Kingston) buildings covered in vines, which change colour with the seasons.

I struggled when I first arrived at queens to find accommodation. I was able to stay in one of the residences before the students moved back in, although it was quite expensive. I ended up staying in another residence for the semester. I somewhat regret this decision as I believe I would have been more immersed in the atmosphere living in the student ghetto- surrounding student houses. Another reason is that being a third year at the time and due to the different semester times I was older then most of the people I was living with. However, my residence was still a lot of fun and very comfortable, I had a double bed, fridge, meal plan, TV and shared bathroom. There was also an eating area right downstairs.

‘Life in Kingston, Ontario’

I studied three business subjects whilst on exchange as I could not match another. I found the workload easily manageable. The lecture style is vastly different in Canada and in some ways I believe better, the lecture sizes are very small and you have a nametag in front of you. The ‘professor’ or ‘prof’ knows all the students names after a few weeks and the lectures become more conversational. If you miss a lecture you miss all the content, as they do not record in any way so you have to make up off a friend. At the start of semester you have to purchase your course materials, unlike, large textbooks they are compiled articles and studies- far more relevant and interesting. Queens Business School is highly renowned and only the best high school students are selected, as it is such a small school. It was very exclusive and I felt lucky to be apart of it. The only downside to this prestige is that the Queens students were highly motivated and serious. I found they did not like exchange students due to a believe we didn’t work as hard. Some would be quite difficult to work with due to the different learning expectations.

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I went far over my exchange budget. I relied on the QUT bursary and OS help which left me with about $10,000. However, I travelled before commencing uni and did not budget for the type of accommodation I ended up getting. With proper budgeting it definitely would have been manageable. I used a travel money card the whole time while I was over there, which I got from my bank.

The only culture shock I experience was in some pronunciation of words that were sensitive and in different cultural norms. I found a prominent issue was perceived far more extremely in Canada then it was in Australia. This was overcome by explaining the way it was in Australia and apologising. I never felt unsafe in Canada in the time that I was there. There were a few times in the states that I was uneasy but never a serious issue.

I went over expecting to be able to travel on weekends and holidays to nearby cities however in reality it was quite difficult when the Canadian/ American friends I had made just wanted to go home to see their families or catch up on work. I did however do a weekend trip to Ottawa solo and it was a lot of fun. My packing advice would be to pack really light, don’t take a hairdryer- not worth it and buy toiletries there.pic3

I travelled solo and I would recommend to anyone considering doing the same to give it a go. As long as you research where you are going and ensure you always have somewhere to sleep you will be fine and you will likely have a better experience. One other thing I would suggest is to try to live with the host students if possible. Immerse yourself in their world as you will get far more opportunities arise from it. You can make Australian friends whenever in Australia- it’s not all the time you can make ones from another country and those relationships allow you networks for future travel.

I would recommend completing a student exchange as it is a once in a lifetime experience and the best time to do it is when you are young and not held down by serious commitments.

The hidden secrets of an exchange to Dublin

For the last half of 2015 I had the most amazing experience studying at Trinity College Dublin, in Ireland. Ireland I can honestly say is one of the friendliest countries you will ever encounter. The people are consciously aware of the fact that their city has an abundance of international residents and go out of their way to help you. They also love having a good time, and in Dublin especially, you can go to any pub and immediately make 5 new lifelong friends over a pint. I loved every second I was there and met some incredible people from all over Europe.

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Trinity College, is in the centre of Dublin so it makes exploring the city easy and means that you become a local very quickly. Trinity itself has a beautiful campus that is made up of a mixture of historical and modern buildings. There are many student services and societies to become a part of and they’re all very involved in the running of the university. Trinity also has cafes and a state of the art gym on campus, which is free to use as a student. The world-renowned Book of Kells, is housed on campus in the Old Library building and is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Dublin. This basically leads to 5 to 6 tour groups walking around campus at all times, which can very entertaining.

I chose Trinity because I had travelled to Ireland before and loved the atmosphere as well as its close position to the UK and Europe. I love to travel so this was pic 2definitely a bonus. Trinity is one of the oldest universities in the world and is highly regarded academically. It has a strong focus on student involvement and support and the whole campus is friendly, a definitely selling point for any university. I also loved Dublin and the opportunity to live in the city was not one I was going to pass up.

Accommodation

I worked with a friend from UQ who was also going to study at Trinity, to try and find accommodation. We had a hard time finding a place that would give us a contract for 4 months (a semester) and not 1 year. We eventually were given some useful information from one of the student services at Trinity who recommended a place called the Marino Institute of Education, 15 minutes drive north of the university. The college has an arrangement with Trinity and offers accommodation for Trinity students for a full year or semester. Marino is made up of 6 blocks of apartments. Each block has around 12 – 15 apartments per block, and each apartment has 4 rooms. Our rooms at Marino included our own bathroom, wardrobe and desk. You shared a kitchen and dining room with your flatmates. I personally loved the accommodation; it was clean, in a safe village-like neighbourhood and felt like a little community of international students.

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Subject

I exchanged with the Economics Department in Trinity and was therefore studying economics subjects while there. I enjoyed the lecture content, (as much as you can ‘enjoy’ lecture content) and the lecturers were very interesting to listen to. Each had their own quirky take on their subject and often used some of the strangest examples to make a point. This made lectures a laugh sometimes. The academics, I feel were not as intense as at QUT but they were definitely not a breeze either. Anyone going to Trinity will find that they won’t struggle to keep up with university work and will be able to travel at the same time.

Finance

In terms of money (easily the worst part of exchange), I budgeted around $10,000 for the semester and the few weeks either end. The accommodation was around $2900 (plus a $300ish deposit which you get back at the end of the semester). I then had enough money for day to day spending, weekend trips to London, Amsterdam and Paris, as well as sightseeing in Ireland. Ireland and Dublin especially, is one of the more expensive places in Europe, however, by Australian standards the pricing for most things is reasonable if not cheaper than usual. Be aware of the exchange rate of the Australian dollar to the Euro, I didn’t have the best exchange rate at the time, but it didn’t cripple me financially. I took a travel cash card and a credit card on exchange. The cash card was for day to day use and I used it the most. It was multi-currency, so I could have Euros and Pounds on it at the same time. The credit card I used for big purchases (flights, holiday accommodation etc.) and emergencies (there were none, but just in case). The system I had worked well and I had no hick-ups using my cards all through Europe and the UK.

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Overall Experience and Advice

I have been lucky enough to have travelled a lot before exchange and have gained experience and confidence in travelling alone. I personally didn’t experience culture shock because the Irish culture is very similar to ours here in Australia. There are, admittedly, a few differences but Irish people have a very similar care-free fun-loving attitude that we have here. Dublin is a very safe city, however you should be mindful of pickpockets when living there. More so than in Brisbane, pickpockets a quite common in Dublin and if you’re not careful, your stuff will be taken directly out of your bag. As long as you zip up your bag and keep it in front of you in really dense crowds you’ll be fine though. This goes for all of Europe and the UK. When travelling I’m always fully aware of my surroundings so that I don’t find myself in a dangerous situation. I kept this practice when travelling and made sure I knew exactly where I was going and what I was doing. If you look confident, you are a lot less likely to become a target for people who want to mess with tourists.

All in all, I had a fabulous time in Ireland and would highly recommend the exchange experience to any student in QUT. You see some amazing places and make incredible friends along the way. The time I spent overseas definitely helped me put a few more things in perspective for my future career and made me more independent and confident in unplanned situations. I can also handle the Metro (Paris) and Tube (London) like a boss now, and I’m pretty proud of that!

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If you are thinking of going on exchange I highly recommended doing three things. One, stay in student accommodation. You can make friends, quickly and everyone is in the one location so it’s easy to get together and for nights out. Two, do not be afraid to introduce yourself and do things with people the first week. I cannot emphasise enough how critical the first week is to your continuing friendship with everyone you live and study with. If you get in early and take every opportunity to hang out and go places you all become friends very quickly, and it helps having a little community of people to chill with during busy times in the semester. Three, to aid in the aforementioned process, leave your room door open when you are in, so that people can see you are there and can come say hey. I told everyone when I first met them that if the apartment door was open, I was home and they could totally pop in and have a chat and some tea. Sounds a touch lame writing it down, but hell did it work. I had people coming in all the time and it made my apartment the go to place if anyone needed someone to chill with.

So if you can, go on exchange. It is the best experience you can have as a student and you’ll never regret it. Whether you’ve travelled before or never left the country you’ll benefit immensely from living overseas and will find that you can adapt and be very confident in the most unlikely situations.