London Calling

Jessica R, Bachelor of Business/Law

CIS Australia: January in London (January, 2017)

 

Host University

I completed a short-term program at the University of Roehampton, a beautiful parkland university in London. The campus was picturesque, and the facilities were very useful and easily accessible. The accommodation was situated on campus, in a brand new building. The rooms were single and very comfortable, with a double bed, desk, kettle, television, and en suite. Classes were held one level up, and breakfast and dinner were two levels up, so it was very quick and easy to get around!

The program I chose was London’s art, history, and society. Classes were held every day for 2 weeks, but only half of these days were held in a classroom. Every other day was spent on excursions exploring London’s historic sites, including the Tower of London, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the Museum of London, and the British Museum. The excursions were a great way to experience London’s vast history, whilst exploring the theory we had been taught in classes.

Host Country

The UK is similar to Australia in many ways, so culture shock wasn’t as big of an issue there as it might be elsewhere. Although I had often heard that London was very expensive, I didn’t find that to always be the case. Food could be expensive off campus, but with breakfast and dinner provided by the university, and my lunch and weekend meals mainly bought on campus, this wasn’t much of an issue for me.

Public transport in London is great, and it is very easy to get around with an Oyster card. Travelling from place to place throughout the day could get expensive, but there is a daily limit after which transport is free.

Tower Bridge, London

Trip highlights

This program was an unforgettable experience, and I loved every moment of it. The campus and its staff were very welcoming, and I felt comfortable knowing there were always people I could turn to if I needed help with anything. I thoroughly enjoyed my classes and the excursions we went on, and learnt valuable information. Studying at an overseas university is an entirely different experience than holidaying there. In just 2 ½ weeks I established my independence, developed as a person, and made life-long friends. My advice for any student considering exchange is: just go for it! It might seem daunting going to another part of the world on your own, but it is entirely worth it. Put yourself out there, make the most of the time you have, and you will have the experience of a lifetime.

If you are interested in undertaking a short-term program during the QUT semester breaks, check out the QUT Global Portal.

The exchange timeline: a comprehensive guide to what you will think and feel

I wanted to write a blog post that I thought would be helpful for future exchange students to read, but I didn’t want to write a “what I wish I knew”, “highlights of my exchange” or “what I have learnt” blog, so instead I am going to tell you the cycle of emotions you will feel whilst on exchange.

  1. “I’m sorry… what? Could you just slow down and write that all down for me because I have no idea what you just said” – when you arrive on exchange people like to bombard you with information (verbal and paper form). They usually speak like you have a mild idea of what you are doing (which you don’t) and deliver all 10 steps to settling in at once, instead of 1 one at a time.
  2. “Hmmm how do I make friends?” – so you arrive and you are entirely disorientated, confused and tired but you have to make friends otherwise you are going to be alone and miserable for the next 6 months… but you haven’t had to make new friends since starting year 8. Its okay, take a breath and say hi… and if necessary acting entirely desperate usually gets sympathy invites
  3. Homesickness – for some this may happen earlier than others, its usually worse when special occasions roll around and can even come in waves but its important to remember that this is an amazing opportunity and once you get home again, you’ll be asking yourself “why did I want to come back to my boring life where I have no money or job?” so make the most of it!
  4. “Assignments? You mean this isn’t a holiday” – it may not affect your GPA but you do still have to do work to pass… shocking right?
  5. Everyone in your last week of exchange: “Bet you are looking forward to going home!” You: “I’m happy sad… happy to see everyone back home, but sad to say goodbye to those I have met” – you create a life for yourself on exchange, a mini family and support network. You achieve so much and it seems heartbreaking to leave it all behind, but you know that on the other end of the ridiculously long flight home (because you live in Australia that is basically in the middle of no where and near nothing) there are a group of people that love you.

Life in Exeter

To most people, the prospect of living and studying in England isn’t really a challenge and in many ways it’s not. The culture is similar, the language is the same and university assessment is fairly alike. Until you get to a new country however, you have no idea what you’re in for. So… what’s it really like to live in Exeter, England?

Exeter? It’s a uni town. No hour long journeys to get to an 8.30am lecture or city protests blocking your way into campus. It has everything you need to get through uni; shops, clubs, scenery by the Quay and even Deliveroo. It’s a 3hour train from London making it the perfect place to study on the cheap but also close enough to the the big city to make weekend trips away achievable.

Day trip to London, Camden Town

The uni? From the outside it’s like being back at QUT. There’s never enough seats in the library, the food court is a nightmare and getting to the other end of campus is too far for a couch potato like me. What’s different though is the culture. QUT has societies and clubs but they aren’t a big part of student life. At the University of Exeter however, almost every student is a member of at least two societies. There’s a new social on every week and the students thrive on this sense of community. This is definitely something I’d love to bring back home to QUT.

Teaching? Assessment? Less contact hours is something I was pleasantly surprised by. Alongside a completely different teaching timetable. Weeks 1 to 11 are spent teaching, we then have a month break (which has just finished), followed by a month of exams. Assessment is fairly standard but only needing a passing mark of 40% is quite deceiving. Students rarely receive anything over a 65% and getting a 1st (equivalent to a QUT 7) is almost unheard of. So to say it was a shock when I got my first piece of assessment back is an understatement.

My flat? Thank God for uni accommodation; gone are the days when I have to get up early to make it to class on time. My flat overlooks the campus and all classes are a 5-minute walk away. The communal areas are cleaned 3 times a week and I have a bigger room than I did back home (winning).

View of Streatham Campus from my flat window

My flat mates? We have 4 English students, 1 Welsh, 1 Spanish, 1 French and 1 Australian. Living with so many people might seem like a struggle to some, but the only space we share is the kitchen/dining area. It has been the best opportunity I’ve had to meet people and make friends; living on campus is by far the best option when studying abroad.

Choosing Exeter for my study abroad experience is by far one of the best choices I’ve made. With only a month and a half left here I’m devastated at how fast the time is going. It’s made my time in England a home away from home PLUS J.K. Rowling studied here so would I come back? Definitely.

It’s Easter break re-cap time!

So classes start back on Monday and the Easter break is behind us, but I want to take this chance to reflect a little on my adventures.

I met mum in London… a city that has become quite familiar to me in the past 12 months. I led her around to all the sites, we did the tours and wined and dined. I’d like to say these were the highlights of our time in London but for me, it was showing her around a city I love. I could sit in Hyde Park for 3 days straight or ride the underground for hours and be happy, just because I was in London, and now I got share this amazing city with someone I love! Top Tip: London Cocktail Club is a must, the music is great and they set fire to your drinks… what more can I say!

After that we headed south to Brighton with a pit stop at Windsor Castle. My advice, be at the palace at 11am to see the changing of the guards… sure it’s smaller than the one at Buckingham Palace but you can actually see what’s happening J In Brighton, all I have to say is we ate fish and chips on the pier whilst I listened to songs from Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging being blasted on the speakers… teenage dreams were made that night.

Then it was westwood to Weymouth via the Jurassic Coast. The sun was shining, and if I closed my eyes really hard and pretended it was 10 degrees warmer I may have been home.

Next was Bath but first, you guessed it… another pit stop! The first was a ‘drive-by’ of Stonehenge. TIP: just drive by, you get super close, can take your photos and don’t waste your money. We then headed to Bristol. Underwhelming is really all I have to say. If I am fair we didn’t have much time to explore, but it wasn’t the happening city I expected. And then we made it to Bath. Our Air BnB was beautiful and the city was rich with history. My top tips would be: do the free Mayor’s walking tour, go to the Roman Baths and have a Cornish pastry from the Cornwall bakery for lunch!

At this point I was adamant that Bath would be my favourite place we visited on our road trip, but I was about to be proven wrong. Next was Oxford… and OH MY GOD! The buildings were so grand and there were cafes and bars in every direction you looked. The city was teeming with people, and yet when we went rowing on the river (my fondest memory of the trip) it was so peaceful. Conclusion drawn- if I don’t move to London to work, I’m living in Oxford! 

We then headed to the most anticipated destination of our adventure. A pub called the Boughey Arms in Stoke-on-Trent. The people were lovely (as you would expect) and the food was good, but unless your name is Boughey I probably wouldn’t recommend going all the way to Stoke to have a look.

Our last stop was York. Also somewhere I have been wanting to visit since arriving in Leeds, and it did not disappoint. Recommendations: there is a church called York Minster (I know I didn’t know that either) and you MUST go and see it, and if you like Mexican check out Fiesta Latina York for a mean feed.

As we drove back to Leeds, that marked the end of our road trip but not the end of our holiday. We spent two days in my second home before going to my third… Durham! The 5 days spent with my family were filled with wine, laughs, food, wine, lots of of photos, wine, food, stories, food and wine!

And that was it! Not only were my holidays nearly over, mum was leaving and I had to face going back to assignments but, all good things have to come to end.

Thanks mum for the adventures, lets do it again some time. Xx

Canada Eh!

Jessica R, Bachelor of Business/Creative Industries

Queens University (Semester 2, 2016)

My semester on exchange in Kingston, Canada has finished and what an experience it has been!

While my time at Queen’s was nothing short of amazing, it’s also important to remember that there are a lot of differences to QUT. Aside from the obvious difference in the accent (as to be expected, eh), the classroom sizes, teaching methods and workload are quite different to what we’ve experienced at QUT. With smaller classrooms and lessons reflecting what we call tutorials, participation is expected and more often than not your contribution in class is graded. I also found there was more work to complete on a weekly basis, with small assessments due regularly or a weekly quiz. Another major difference is the amount of group work – expect to be working in 4 or 5 groups at a time!

Aside from the differences academically, university life is similar to that in Australia. Small differences such as more of a community feel and the opportunity to live in residence make your exchange experience just that little bit more exciting and different.

While Canada is similar to Australia in a lot of ways, driving on the opposite side of the road was probably the biggest adjustment I had to make – even just crossing the road! The cost of living is similar to that of Australia, just remember taxes are added and tipping is expected in restaurants and for any services. While it’s not overly difficult to travel within Canada, it is expensive. For example, the 2 ½ hour train trip from Kingston to Toronto cost me around $50 each way, although there are options for buses as well. My tip here is to try and book transport in advance if you can, and keep an eye out for specials!

When reflecting back over my time on exchange I had so many good experiences that it’s hard to choose highlights! Perhaps my biggest take away from my time on exchange is the people I’ve met. Queen’s has a great orientation program and a few associations tailored to exchange students, which makes meeting people from all over the world so easy! I also found that because exchange at Queen’s is such a popular thing to do – 80% of third year commerce students go on exchange – the majority of students in my classes were also exchange students. This was comforting in the fact that we were all in the same boat in regards to being new to the system and how things work in Canada. It also meant I got to work in groups with students from all over the world. Perhaps the biggest highlight from my exchange experience was my accommodation. While trying to organise somewhere to live through the internet from the other side of the world was stressful, it couldn’t have worked out any better. I subletted a room in a house with 5 other girls, of which 4 were Canadian students and the other a fellow exchange student from England. I would highly recommend to anyone going on exchange to try and live with some local students if you can! Not only did these 5 girls become my best friends, they also made me feel incredibly welcome into their home and friendship groups – putting right amongst the local student culture!

All in all, my exchange experience in Canada was one of the best things I’ve done in my life so far and I wouldn’t change anything about it. The whole experience, including all the ups and downs, has made me a better person and has contributed to my education more than anything ever could!

 

Study at one of the top Business Schools in Europe

Maastricht University School of Business and Economics, The Netherlands

Location: Maastricht, South Limburg, The Netherlands.

Why study here?: 4th best young university in the world, triple accredited business school, melting pot of European culture, travel opportunities.

Maastricht University School of Business and Economics has been named the 4th best young university in the world, and is one of only 1% of business schools worldwide to be triple-crown accredited (EQUIS, AACSB and AMBA). SBE is home to over 4200 students, and is the most international university in the Netherlands – with half of their students and staff coming from abroad. Most courses are taught in English and SBE are well- known for their Problem-Based Learning system and international orientation. The university offers students guidance and support for international students in regards to visas, accommodation and more, and offers a buddy programme to help you settle in during your semester abroad.

The Maastricht is one of the most visited cities in the Netherlands, due to its vibrancy, culture and internationalisation. Maastricht is known as the birthplace of the European Union and the Schengen Treaty. It is a melting pot of different European cultures, and is filled with historic buildings and cutting-edge modern architecture. The city has quaint cobblestone streets, impressive churches, wonderful city squares, delicious food from neighbouring countries Germany and Belgian, museums, pubs, music venues and shopping. Almost everyone rides a bike in and around Maastricht, and many other famous European cities are close by.

If you want to explore some more of Europe during your exchange, Maastricht is the perfect base. Don’t let the southern location of Maastricht deceive you – Rotterdam and Amsterdam are only 2.5 hours away by car or train, Cologne and Brussels are only 1.5 hours away by car, and Paris is 3.5 hours away by train.

Easter break… already?

Wow… it feels like yesterday that I was boarding a plane to England, and now I am already on Easter break, and well and truly over half way through my exchange experience… where has the time gone?

Now seems a good as time as any to reflect on the 5 best moments so far…

  1. Flat roast dinner: my flatmates and I successfully cooked a whole Sunday roast fit for the Christmas table. It was the first time I truly felt like I had a place here in Leeds, and looking around, I felt like I had truly made some life long friends.
  2. Karaoke: on Tuesday’s a local restaurant called Bierkeller has karaoke. All I can say is that my first night out back in Brisbane has a lot to live up to. Nothing quite beats belting out “Somebody to love” with a stein of cider in your hand…
  3. Trip to Dublin: well… I went to Ireland and it was great!
  4. Cornish Pasty eating: this is inclusive of every time I have eaten a Cornish pasty whilst I’ve been in England (and that has been more than once ;P). I don’t know what it is about them, but every two days I get a craving and only ever so often do I make the decision to NOT take a walk to The Kirkgate Market to buy one
  5. Surviving: basic survival is incredibly rewarding whilst on exchange. Not only have I mastered the art of washing and grocery shopping, but I am also in training as the next MasterChef!

As you can see sometimes it is the little things and the people that make your time whilst on exchange. To those thinking about going on exchange I would not only urge you to do it, but to remember whilst you are on exchange to take a moment to appreciate the subtle beauty of the little things.

So now that it is holiday time, as an exchange student that can only mean one thing… TRAVEL. My mum is meeting me in London before we embark in a road trip around the UK. I will be sure to update you with my comprehensive review of all the sites in a few weeks’ time, so stay tuned!

Study in the heart of Germany

University of Stuttgart

Location: Southern Germany

Why Stuttgart? Southern German hospitality, food, travel opportunities and cars!

The University of Stuttgart is one of the leading technology-oriented universities in Germany, and is located in a region known for its economic strength, cultural integration and innovation. Every semester the University of Stuttgart welcomes exchange students from all over the world. Most courses at the University of Stuttgart are taught in German, however if you’ve previously studied German you can develop your language skills further during your semester aboard! Stuttgart also offer some great language programs that you can undertake during the semester break (for more information, see the QUT Global Portal).  

Stuttgart is located an hour from the picturesque Black Forest, and is the sixth largest city in Germany. The city is known for its beautiful architecture, old castles and churches and vibrant cultural life, and the Mercedes-Benz and Porsche museums. Stuttgart is situated closely to a number of famous German cities and towns, including picturesque Heidelberg (two hours by train), beer central Munich (two and a half hours by train) and Nuremberg (two and a bit hours by train).

International students are welcomed and looked after by employees from the International Office, and students are able to join the ‘Buddy Program ready, steady, study’. The program offers help for new international students, as well welcome events and activities throughout the semester.

QUT student Gemma and friends on the Stuttgart Winter exchange program.

Come and meet representatives from the University of Stuttgart at the QUT Exchange Fair!

 

My first impressions of Leeds

The train stopped. My world halted. But the people around kept moving.  The moment I had anticipated, dreaded, feared, dreamed of and planned for was finally here. I was in Leeds. I had made it. I was on exchange.

I’ll be honest, my first day in Leeds was a strange one. It was full of mixed emotions, cold weather and slight confusion. After dragging my suitcases through the city centre, whilst strategically glancing at my phone that was carefully balancing in my pocket every so often so I didn’t get lost, I managed to reach my residence, Central Village. The weather was cold. Very cold. I was sick of travelling, and I was simply ready to sleep BUT my birthday was in two days and no one wants to spend their birthday alone, so off I went to be ‘social’. 

That first night was great! I met people from all over the globe, all studying different things and all hoping to get something different out of this unique experience of exchange. The people I met that night are people I would now class as my friends, and I suppose THAT would have to be one of the greatest ‘first impressions’ anyone could hope for… acceptance.

The following days only got better (with the exception of the weather) and my good impressions of Leeds only continued to grow. The juxtaposing architecture, the rich history, vibrant culture and once again, acceptance of Leeds as a town and the university, all came to the forefront.

Never before had I ever seen public pianos in a shopping mall prior coming to Leeds, but I must say seeing a fellow student pull up a chair and play with complete freedom for nothing but his own self-satisfaction is one moment of those first few days I will never forget.

Exchange is supposed to change you. To enrich your life, broaden your perspective, open up opportunities and challenge you to push yourself. I feel like it is premature to say this has happened to me already… but perhaps first impressions are the most meaningful.

Making the most of summer in Germany

Brian: Kassel, Germany – International Summer School Program

After I finished my last exam in Semester 1, I headed off to Kassel, Germany for International Summer School program at Universität Kassel.pic On route to Germany, I stopped over in Singapore for a week to catch up with friends from a previous yearlong exchange program before stopping over in Dubai for 24 hours. I made the most of my stop-over in Dubai by leaving the airport and going out to the desert safari, where I went driving through the sand-dunes, watched fire dancing while eating traditional food in the middle of the desert before catching the sunset.
Upon arriving at Frankfurt Airport, I took a 2-hour train into Kassel where I met my host family for the next month. My host family lived in a village just outside of Kassel called Kaufungen – a nice small community which was beautiful during summer. pic-2Having a host-family was definitely one of the highlights of this program, as it really gave you the opportunity to experience German culture first hand. They provided me with authentic German meals, while also helping me improve my German. At times it was awkward, given that I knew next to no German, while they knew little English – however this was all part of the experience.

Within Kassel, there were a number of museums and castles to visit as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site which was the Hercules Monument.pic-3 This was a must see, especially when they have the water feature and light show running. The great thing about Germany is all the major cities are either a high speed train or a cheap bus ride away. Even going to neighbouring countries like Czech Republic of France, is just a cheap overnight bus ride away – perfect for cheeky weekend trips.

Find out more about QUT’s Short Term Options!