The Exchange Timeline: A Comprehensive Guide to What You Will Think and Feel

Claire B., Bachelor of Journalism
University of Leeds, England (Semester 2, 2017)

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 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. It’s 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 it’s 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 nowhere and near nothing) there are a group of people that love you.

 

The Ultimate Guide to the University of Leeds

Katie, Nichola and Molly – Inbound students to QUT
University of Leeds, England (Semester 1, 2019)

We may be biased, but we love the University of Leeds. It is rated one of the world’s top 100 Uni’s and is right in the middle of one of the UK’s most vibrant cities – what more could you want?! It’s part of the Russel Group (a group of UK universities than engage in intensive research) and so you can guarantee you’ll be in safe hands. In 2017, The Sunday Times voted Leeds the University of the Year, joining the award for 1st in student satisfaction in the UK. If the numerous awards and rankings are enticing you to consider an exchange here, keep reading our ‘Ultimate Guide to the University of Leeds’ for more information, from academia to nightlife – we’ve experienced it all!

Academia

The University of Leeds is one of the biggest and most acclaimed universities in the UK and is famous for its teaching and research – providing lots of different academic opportunities and ways of learning. You can study almost everything at Leeds including Medicine, Art, Law and everything in between.

Academic life at the University of Leeds is somewhat different in comparison to QUT. A full workload is 120 credits per year – the number of modules (this is what units are called in the UK) required to be studied varies between each faculty and unlike at QUT each module may be worth different credits. For example, there are 10 credit modules, available for just one semester or there are 20/30 credit modules which are studied for the full year. This means that you will find yourself studying more than the workload is required here at QUT – for the most part at least 6 modules per semester is the norm. This may seem like a lot, but all the modules offered at Leeds are truly interesting – there are both compulsory modules and discovery modules (depending on the faculty), so there really is something to suit everyone’s academic needs. For instance, I am a Law student and my very varied modules last year included – EU law, Criminal Law, Employment Law, Land Law, Torts Law and Constitutional.

Teaching at Leeds is also very different to my experiences at QUT – we have shorter, more frequent classes (most students live on to or very near to campus) so the timetable is a lot more full on. Lectures tend to be 50 minutes, supplemented by seminars, which can be anywhere from 1.5 hours to 2 hours or labs/tutorials for sciences. Classes run between 9am and 6pm – so the academic day is condensed into this.

Academic life at Leeds will keep you busy but it is always fun, engaging, practical and interesting but you will certainly still have time to explore the wonderful city of Leeds!

Parkinson Building – the most famous building on the Leeds campus and the location of Brotherton Library

 

Accommodation in Leeds

As an exchange student in Leeds, you are guaranteed University accommodation regardless of whether you are studying for one semester, or the whole year (as long as you apply before the deadline). There are both on and off campus options with varying layouts from shared bathrooms to en-suites. There is also choice of catered or self-catered options. You will have your own bedroom in a flat shared with other Leeds students. This means it is so easy to make friends as there are so many people around, both home and international students.

The view from Charles Morris Hall

Typical lounge at Mary Morris Halls of Residence

A basic membership to the on-campus gym, The Edge is Included if you stay in University accommodation too.

The Edge gym

There is information about each of the residences here: https://accommodation.leeds.ac.uk/residences

Alternatively, there is the option to live in private accommodation. Unipol is a charity which works with students to help you find suitable private accommodation. Hyde Park is an area a 10-15 minute walk away from  c ampus and is filled with students.

A typical house in Leeds

A typical street in Hyde Park

The Union

A huge part of my student life at Leeds is centred around the union, which you will automatically become a member of as a student at the uni. The University Union is a charity that is run for students by students, helping provide opportunities, help create change and really allow students to love their time at Leeds! Activities are run throughout the year, enabling you to have fun and try something new, including specialised events for international students. The building itself, which is right in the centre of campus, contains shops, bars, cafes, nightclubs and study areas, to name a few. It is also home to the 350 societies the university has on offer. From football to food and wine, as well as every course having its own society, there really is something for everyone!

The Union building, right in the heart of campus

I myself am part of Leeds Modern Dance Society, where weekly classes are held for all levels of ability in tap, jazz and contemporary. Dancing with this society really has completely enhanced my university experience, from weekly socials to all the different friends I have made, and so to have 350 societies to choose from, Leeds is pretty special! I’ve put some pictures below of the type of events held by societies, including competitions and weekly socials at bars and nightclubs. This part of Uni is quite different to QUT – there is a much bigger sense of community and much more emphasis to join as many societies as you can! Here’s a link to the union website so you can browse all the things it has on offer! https://www.luu.org.uk/

Modern Dance Society at Newcastle Dance
Competition in Feb 2018!

The annual dance show held in the Union!

 

The City and Social Life

Leeds is located in Northern England with great transport links to other parts of the country – only 2 hours from London and 3 from Edinburgh by train. There is also an airport close by where you can find cheap flights to Europe for the holidays, making it the perfect destination for your semester abroad!

The city itself is a vibrant, multi-cultural haven that will draw you in with its wide selection of shops, restaurants, music venues and nightclubs. There is always something going on and so you’ll never be bored, and because Leeds is such a cheap city, you’ll be able to take part on a budget! Despite the hustling bustling city being the location of most students’ free time, the Yorkshire countryside is also right on your doorstep and so you can easily visit beautiful country villages if you fancy a change of scene.

With multiple colleges and universities in Leeds the student population is HUGE! It’s very different to Brisbane student life, and sometimes it’s quite easy to forget that others’ lives there too (maybe don’t go shopping on a Saturday afternoon if you want to miss the mad family rush!). The city has adapted to the student body well, with so many facilities catering to student life.

Leeds is such a great city for a year abroad!

Leeds Trinity Shopping Centre – the biggest shopping centre in the city which is home to more than 120 national and international brands as well as cinema’s, bars and restaurants.

Leeds city centre – a haven of activities!

Ilkley Moor – a peaceful destination only 40 minutes away for
when you want to escape the busy city

We hope this has given you just a little idea about what life in Leeds is like. We truly love it there and hope this has inspired you to consider it as your study abroad option!

Hope to see you in Leeds sometime soon!

Katie, Nichola and Molly x

Leeds Survival Guide, Part 3: The Studies

Having just finished my final class for the semester, I now have a one month break before exams and so, I decided to let you all know what the studies here at Leeds have been like.

To get an idea of where I’m coming from, I did the following three modules this semester:

  • Understanding the Audience
  • Beginners French
  • Career Development

Here are some of the differences I’ve experienced between studying at QUT and the University of Leeds:

1. I received a lot of handouts at Leeds

  • For every class I received at least one piece of paper per lesson, which rarely happens at QUT
  • Buy yourself a display folder before leaving because they are extremely hard to come by in Leeds for some unknown reason
  • They’re also handy to keep your travel documents in while travelling

2. Referencing is different to QUT 

  • I recommend downloading EndNote (A free referencing software) because Leeds has their preferred referencing method available to be downloaded and it makes referencing so much faster and easier
  • QUT has this available too if you didn’t know!

3. Most classes take attendance

  • The amount of times you can miss class depends on your course but for media, missing 5 classes resulted in being contacted and questioned
  • Be careful with planning big trips during class time; I recommend travelling before the semester starts or during December before the exams

4. Not all lectures are recorded

  • None of mine were, which meant I had to actually pay attention
  • It was definitely difficult not being able to go back and rewatch lectures, but this just made me listen harder and take more notes

5. A passing grade is 40/100

  • This changes depending on what you study but this is the passing grade for most courses
  • It’s definitely a lot easier to pass at Leeds, but from my experience, it’s a little more difficult to do well

6. For all my media students out there, be aware that media at QUT is a lot more modern and practical whereas at Leeds it’s a little more traditional

  • You’ll most likely find powerpoint slides with plain black text on white background and no pictures or videos
  • For the assignments, Leeds wanted a lot of academic study examples, whereas QUT usually prefers that students find their own examples from tv shows, articles or other media
  • With that being said, Axel Bruns who works at QUT did make an appearance in my reading list one week for his work on convergence, so the content isn’t that different from QUT, it’s just a little more bland

7. Finally, less of a difference but a great recommendation, if you have a free elective, do Career Development

  • Career development is a 20 credit module (60 credits makes up 48 QUT credits) so I only had to do 3 units to get a full study load (this left me with time to travel on weekends!)
  • It was pretty much a big reflection unit on what I want to do in the future
  • Along with it being quite easy it was actually pretty useful in helping improve my resume and my interview skills

Even though it’s been different here in Leeds, it’s definitely been a worthwhile experience, mainly because I get to study in buildings such as this:

So, I highly recommend you come to the University of Leeds to experience studying here yourself.