Cost of Living in London and Travel

Hannah: City University London, Semester 1, 2016

I did not fully comprehend how much living in London would cost until I got over there, however I had enough savings to not stress about money, live comfortably and enjoy many travel opportunities. This should definitely be communicated to future exchange students, as I met other students who really limited their opportunities until the end before travelling because they were constantly budgeting. Throughout the semester I had time to travel to Iceland, Switzerland, Budapest, Prague, Vienna and Scotland. I did a few trips in England including Nottingham, Peterborough and Cambridge, although I regret not being organised enough to visit some other places.

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The Alps

After my exams finished, my lease also finished and I begin a five-week solo travel experience across Europe. From London I travelled to Norway before visiting Copenhagen, Berlin, Munich, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Venice, Rome, Florence, Milan, Barcelona, Paris and Amsterdam. It was such an amazing experience I met lovely people in Hostels along the way and saw beautiful architecture, cities and natural landscapes. Travelling was definitely a highlight of my trip although it was lonely at times I made use of every opportunity and I was able to meet a friend made through the exchange program on my last stop in Amsterdam.

Colosseum

Colosseum

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Travel Pic

City University was different from QUT in terms of diversity of culture; it was so refreshing to be in a country and university, embracing difference and acceptance. London is one of the most multicultural countries in the world, although I felt Australia was quite diverse, London was nowhere I had ever been, it was so exciting to be immersed in culture, language and practices. I was able to develop cultural awareness about different cultures through my classes and interactions with other students. My exchange experience has been a truly rewarding and memorable experience I will always cherish and would recommend it to any student at QUT.

Best university in UK – voted by students!

My reason for choosing Swansea University is twofold; the fact it is in the UK and that the modules paired well with my QUT subjects. Upon arrival, I was warmly greeted by Study Abroad staff at Heathrow Airport which I was very grateful for as I was quite nervous. They also helped me carry my bags to my new home. Swansea University, in general, looked quite Celtic with lush green grounds and vines growing on the building walls, which I loved.

Swansea itself is both beautiful and slightly ugly at the same time. It has an amazing beach running alongside the main road which you can see from lecture room windows (I found myself gazing out the window a lot) and cute little towns like Mumbles. On the other hand, the industrial nature of Swansea can make the town look a little scary in places, but they are easily avoided. Wales, as a whole, is a spectacular place to live with small towns where everyone knows each other and green landscapes galore.

Swansea University’s facilities are quite good, but I must admit QUT are a lot more technologically savvy than my exchange counterpart. I found enrolling quite challenging and annoying at Swansea University, an issue I have never had at QUT. That being said, overall the facilities at Swansea University are more than adequate, they just need a little more modernising.

The key strengths of Swansea University are how welcoming the first two weeks are as well as its research and real world applications of lectures. It is well known for being the best university in the UK voted for by students. However, it is also well known for being a good university for engineering, especially with the new engineering campus opening in September.

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.

Dorm-Sharing with more than 100 students

On arrival, despite my preparations in learning the language from about a year before, I got lost in the airport immediately and this was not the last time such a thing happened. Although I was flustered at the time, I can now look back on times like these times fondly. Eventually I found welcomers from my host institution in Osaka, Kansai Gaikoku Daigakku or Kansai Gaidai, who after making sure everyone was accounted for took us to our dorms.

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Entrance to the University

The dorms were a new experience to me, since I’ve always lived at home and rarely spend the night away from my own bed. Having a roommate and more than 100 other people living inside the dorm, sharing kitchen, bathrooms, laundry it was pretty amazing to say the least. Here I made a lot of friends with people from all over the world, even though I was still meeting new faces more than a month after my arrival. Before orientation started, I decided to take a look around the university’s main campus, which if I had to describe in 1 word it was beautiful. The grounds were well-kept and clean, and the buildings honestly had a nice aesthetic to them. By no means was it a large university, though I found out later there were at least 13,000 people attending, and I never visited the second campus, everything you needed was situated nicely inside the university. There was even a Mcdonalds right underneath a convenience store and a bookshop.

Sheffield Hallam University = Similar to QUT

Arriving to this at Sheffield Hallam University

Arriving to this at Sheffield Hallam University

I arrived in Sheffield two weeks prior to commencing university so I could explore my surrounds, do a few sightseeing trips (ie. to London, Leeds, Manchester etc) and attend my pre-enrolment sessions. It was great to have time to settle in and see a bit of England before university pressures surmounted, and the latter was simple yet informative and helpful in my transition to Sheffield Hallam. The International Staff at Sheffield Hallam are incredibly helpful, as are the general English student body I found. This was a first impression which carried through the entire semester.

During my semester abroad I studied four units, which only had one assessment piece (100%) each which was a much easier work load than the usual three assessments items per subject at QUT! Despite the smaller workload, the subjects I studied at Sheffield Hallam were extremely similar to those at QUT both in delivery and content. The majority of English universities use BlackBoard and other administrative processes and teaching methods, such as assignment hand in procedures, CRA sheets and lecture and tutorial sign on, were also similar to QUT. This aided immensely in the transition to university abroad, and the smaller workload gave me extra time to travel.

Sheffield Hallam consists of two campuses, both within 30 minutes’ walk of each other; however, all my classes were located at the city campus. The city campus is ideally located right in the middle of the city centre, surrounded by shops, eateries, the train and bus station and student accommodation. Additionally, both campuses have a range of facilities such as computer labs, libraries, printing and copying services, resource rooms, eateries, sports venues, gyms, etc.

Exchange in Bocconi, Italy : Part 1

I am from Norway, and Bocconi was one of the universities I had considered before I chose to study at QUT. Bocconi is famous for being one of the best universities in Europe and has a strong focus on economics and finance.

It was hard to not speak Italian in Milan, but at Bocconi almost all students spoke English pretty well. Their teaching methods were a little bit different than on QUT. They like to get to the point as fast as possible. I would recommend all students considering going on exchange to Italy to at least learn some basic Italian. I believe that the more Italian you speak, the better your experience will be. There were also very few assignments and you had the option to the final exam two other times if you failed the first time.

There are three different Bocconi buildings and you will likely have classes or exams in at least two of them. All of the buildings are located in the city and are approximately five minutes apart from each other. To be honest I like the Gardens Point campus better because you have everything you need at one place and it feels more like a community then the Bocconi campus. When it comes to the city it is a very old and beautiful city.

They do have a big emphasis on fashion, so you might get some weird looks if you are wearing the “wrong” clothes. Soccer is the main sport and the two big teams are AC Milan and Inter Milan. They both share the same arena, San Siro, located in the western part of Milan. Bocconi is located south in Milan. In the centre you have the famous church Duomo and one of the world’s oldest shopping malls, La Galleria (Vittorio Emanuele II). A little bit north of the centre you have an old castle called Castello Sforzesco.