Discover the UK’s picturesque countryside

Jordan W
(BCI student Majoring in Drama, Minors in Scenography and Literature)
Leeds University, UK

 

The landscape is stunning in England, if you’re a painter or creative type it will make your mind wonder. I was fortunate enough in my weekend explorations of the England countryside to come across an exhibition holding some of Francis Bacon’s most famous work on tour.

You’ll meet so many friends while on exchange. I will give some advice, you will notice on your return home that you will have more international student friends than English students, as they tend to stick to their own crowd (usually). This is not necessarily bad, it was my own personal experience and made friends with plenty of non-student English friends.

So, you’re probably wondering about Europe. Do it. It’s one of the best things. In the middle of Semester 2 (which is our Semester 1 at QUT), there is a month break in the middle to study, I suggest do some study then take some time off to travel to Europe, it is at a very good time in March / April where the tourists have not yet arrived, but it is not blisteringly cold like Winter – it is just right.

Nothing is more rewarding than travelling

A highlight I would suggest is to do Italy – it is magnificent, you will not regret – climbing Mount Vesuvius was indeed my favourite as it snowed while I was at the top.

However, transport and travelling to other places is quite expensive due to the class system on trains which interlink England. I suggest using the National Express bus service that allows extremely cheap tickets around the U.K. – it takes longer to your destination point but it saves you money.

By the end, you will wish you could never leave – but that’s okay because at the end you would have made connections and can meet up with those friends again, traveling and searching the world together.

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.

Leeds Survival Guide, Part 2: Leeds Lingo

In the past few months of being in Leeds, there have been plenty of interesting and strange Yorkshire sayings that I’ve encountered. In Australia, we have words such as “snag”, “arvo”, “grog” that are native to the Australian language. Similarly, there are newfound words found in the ‘Yorkshire’ dialect found in places like Leeds, York and Sheffield.

As part of my Leeds Survival Guide, I’m going to share a few crucial and the most interesting words I’ve heard so far.

Most importantly, when you first make eye contact with a Yorkshire person you’ll most likely be greeted with “you alright?”. This happens to mean “how are you?” but if you’re not expecting it, it feels strange being asked if you’re alright by the cashier at a supermarket or a stranger you pass by.

Why yes I am okay… Do I not look okay?!

You are supposed to respond with something like, “yes I’m good, and you?”, but it is definitely something I had to get used to.

Aside from that, the following are some more intriguing things I’ve heard that I thought would be good for an incoming student to wrap their head around:

  • Ey up – Hello?
  • Aye – Yes (Kind of like a pirate with a British accent)
  • Clever clogs – Conceited person
  • Egg on – To urge someone to do something
  • Endways – Forward
  • Fancy dress – Costume (Not in fact nice clothing, but something like a Halloween costume)
  • Jiggered – Exhausted
  • Jock – Food or lunch (similar to the Australian use of ‘tucker’)
  • Lark – Good fun
  • Teem – Pour (e.g. “It’s teeming!” – “It’s pouring rain!”)
  • Us – Me, my or our
  • Usen – Plural of ‘us’ (Kind of like the way some Aussies say ‘youse’ as a plural of ‘you’)

And here are some Yorkshire idioms that are fun to say:

  • As daft as a dormhouse – Not very intelligent
  • As sharp as a Sheffield – Someone who is quick-witted
  • Catch as catch can – Everyone for themselves
  • Where there’s muck there’s brass – Where there’s hard work, there’s money

There are plenty more England ‘easter eggs’ like this to be found and it is most definitely worth it to explore and find them all. To quote a plaque I found in Whitby, I personally really ‘luv it ere’.

Leeds Survival Guide, Part 1: Arrival

The idea of travelling and experiencing a life away from home seems fantastic; until you arrive in this strange place with no clue of what you’re doing here.

I’ve been in Leeds, England for about a week now. It’s been scary, but it’s also been an incredible amount of fun.

Coming from Australia, I assumed that I’d fit right in with British culture. I already speak the language so, how different could the UK really be? Very. And this is what they call ‘culture shock’.

From accidentally pulling an alarm chord (I thought it was the light), not knowing how to unplug a sink (turns out there’s a lever at the back) and adapting to the Yorkshire sayings (blog on Leeds lingo up soon), I was definitely in shock.

Even seeing a squirrel for the first time had me amazed!

It’s funny how such a common animal can be so foreign to some.

Although, within all of the bewilderment, there was one powerful thing that got me through: making new friends.

If I could give one major piece of advice to all those studying in the UK, it would be to get out of your little dorm room and go to every, single ‘Freshers’ event you can.

With international café meetings, food adventures and an array of parties, there are so many chances to meet other students who are as new and confused as you are. Below are some of the incredible people that I befriended at these events.

All the international friends that I met at various freshers events.

These new friends who share my shock of this new culture are keeping my homesickness at bay, giving me the chance to explore more and simply smile more.

My first week in Leeds is almost over, but with about 30 new friends on Facebook, I’m feeling much more comfortable in this new place. It’s time to let the real adventures to begin.

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.

‘Crisps’ or ‘Chips’?

One of the first things I remember being told about exchange is that assimilating into another culture can be hard. “It’s England,” I thought. “It can’t be that hard.” If I was to study in Italy or France, a country whose first language wasn’t English; that would be hard.  Now I’ll just get this out of the road and say it. I was wrong. It wasn’t ‘hard’ per say, but it was a lot different than I expected. Don’t get me wrong, I love England. I love the perpetual cold and rainy days, the history, the Victorian architecture. But there are a few things that confused the hell out of me and here they are.

The people.
I now have many British friends, some of whom are from London. I have no problems getting along with these people – love ‘em to bits. But when I first walked through the streets of London I wasn’t met by friendly smiles, or people willing to help out the lost tourist. Instead they were steely eyed and hell bent on getting from A to B without disruption. At first it made me think ‘Oh god, why did I choose this country’ BUT I got used to it, it’s not bad it’s just different and that’s okay. Besides, now I know my way around I’m just another person on the escalator getting frustrated when some doesn’t stand on the right (this is a must: overtaking on the left, standing on the right).

Food.
You’d think being fairly similar countries the food in England wouldn’t be all too different from the food in Australia. For the most part that’s true but imagine my shock and disgust to open a blue packet of crisps (chips, I mean chips) to find not original, but salt and vinegar and that’s not the half of it. Cinnamon on donuts? Nope, sugar, sugar and more sugar. A bit of chicken salt on my chips? Ha, no. Pasito soft drink? Silly Australian, no again. Okay, I’m probably exaggerating slightly, the food is edible but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t counting down the days until I can buy a pie.

Obvious disapproval of being mislead by the blue packaging.

Language.
Yes we may both speak English but to say I haven’t had a few issues in communicating simply isn’t true. Among the few:
Pants. Get used to asking for ‘trousers’ when shopping or be prepared to have the awkward ‘ah actually I was looking for thermal trousers, not literal heated underwear’ conversation,’ you’ve been warned.
Capsicum.
My first Subway encounter went a little like this: “I’ll have the green capsicum too thanks”

Subway employee,”uh… the what?”

“Capsicum, the green stuff?”

Friend, “Emma. That’s pepper.”

*Sighs internally*

Orange squash.
Sadly I learned the hard way that this is in no way orange juice or at a stretch, soft drink. It’s cordial. It took drinking a full glass of the stuff to realise that. Safe to say the flat mates have no let me live it down.

And of course we have the obvious, thongs.
On multiple occasions I’ve gotten the ‘that’s way too much information Emma’ look when saying, “I’m just going to put my thongs on before we go.”

My point here is that YES England is an English speaking country, YES it’s very similar to home and YES it really doesn’t take that long to settle in. BUT there are some things (plenty more that I haven’t talked about here) that are simply going to confuse the hell out of you or make you feel uncomfortable so don’t be surprised or feel stupid when it happens. It takes a while and debates like ‘crisps’ or ‘chips’ still happen but I’ve finally managed to stop myself before blurting out ‘capsicum’ at Subway. Adapting is key. Enjoy England.

An Engineer Abroad

Jacob W,  Bachelor of Engineering

Exeter University (Semester 2, 2016)

 

A blog for uni, I must write,

as I sit and wait for my flight.

Home, I am bound,

Now I am out of euro & pound.

An adventure I have had,

soon to see friends and family though, I am glad.

It was July I left, travel and study abroad lay ahead,

though now in hindsight I feel I may have been misled.

A semester abroad can be really great,

unfortunately for me it was not to be my fate,

often you will read and hear,

“Embarking on exchange was the best decision I made this year”

“Don’t think, just do it” was something I read,

take heed! think! before dreams fill your head.

Life in Exeter, day to day

very similar to home though in winter, dreary and grey.

I lived with a lovely brother & sister, just out of town,

my expectations for foreign dorm life meant this was a slight let down.

Weekend trips to the English countryside, I thought there would be many,

lots of assignments ensured there were hardly any.

All-nighters in week two, something must be wrong,

Suddenly my time abroad was seeming very long.

Weeks turned to months and I eventually settled in,

I made a lifelong friend, thank god as things were looking a bit grim.

I did have a lot fun, travelling and meeting people along the way,

     seeing the sights and trying new foods, almost every day.

     Beer bike tours and river boat cruises in Budapest,

     these experiences might have been the best.

Though the delicious Polish sausage in Krakow,

    Chargrilled from a food truck, I wish I had one now.

    However, I can’t forget snowboarding in Norway,

      Amazing Berlin Christmas markets and all the Paris Clichés.

    There are many more highlights and stories to tell,

    Though I’ll wrap up this poem before you’re bored as hell.

So my semester abroad is done,

looking back, mostly I remember the fun.

Contemplating exchange? Here’s my final advice,

Dream big, get inspired but also think twice!

If you decide to go, pack light,

double check your passport before every flight.

Try to see everything but also study hard,

Call your parents and send them a post card.

 

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.

Misleading York Pudding

As I’m sitting here about to post yet another entry, I look out my window and I finally feel like I live in London. If the constant rain and overcast skies aren’t an indication I simply have to look at the temperature which is a barmy (ha) 12 degrees Celsius! It even got down to 9 degrees on Wednesday (funny funny – good one London)! Read more

Hugh and Jake who?!

Hi there!

So I’ve officially been on exchange for just over two weeks in London! So far I have loved everything about this city! From the transport (amazing compared to Brisbane) to the fashion and shopping, it’s going to be very hard to come home in January. However, just for now I’ll do a quick recap of some exciting things that have happened in the past week! Read more