The Best Thing I’ve Done!

Isobella T., Bachelor of Business
University of Leeds, United Kingdom (Semester 2, 2016)

In January, I left my family and friends to spend a semester at the University of Leeds in England. I was told about Leeds by one of my friends, but I didn’t think much of it until I went to the QUT Exchange Fair, and one of the previous semester’s students told me how great it was, and how much fun he had. That made up my mind.

Leeds is a beautiful campus set between James Baillie – my residence- and the city. It was about 25 minutes walking from James Baillie, and 15-20 minutes from the city, with plenty of sights along the way. The campus contains two bars, the English love a good bevvy between classes, and turns into a three room nightclub on Fridays. Fruity on Fridays along with Otley Runs are staple Leeds outings. The University is big on being social, with heaps of clubs to join, as well as outings around England for exchange students. The city itself is full of different places to eat and drink. There is something on every night in Leeds, so you’re never running short of options, just remember to buy tickets online.

One of the wonderful places in Leeds!

The teaching in Leeds was a little different to QUT. Most lectures only ran for an hour, and none of them were recorded. Three of my subjects only had one piece of assessment that was worth 100%, which I found quite intimidating. Due to the credit transfer difference, I took five subjects, but I found them very manageable, and hardly had any homework, leaving me with plenty of time to travel.

Not much homework left me plenty of time to travel!

I budgeted about $15,000, and usually stuck to my £100 a week budget, depending on whether I went travelling or not. The exchange rate was pretty tragic when I left, but picked up towards the end. I used a Commonwealth Travel Money Card, and never had any problems. It was super easy and cheap to get to Europe, especially if you fly Ryan Air or Easy Jet, and we used Google Flights or Sky Scanner to find the cheapest flights. In March, we had a month long mid-semester break, so it was the perfect opportunity to visit Dublin, Zurich, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Krakow and Warsaw!

Visited Paris in the Mid Semester break

The friends I made on exchange were some of the best people I have ever met, with the majority of them from Canada and America. The first person I ever met in Leeds ended up being my best friend on exchange; we did many solo trips in Italy, The Netherlands, France, and Spain, and luckily, never got sick of each other. The atmosphere in Leeds is super welcoming and friendly, and my friends and I often had dinner together or went to the gym, because we lived so close.

Going on exchange was definitely the best thing I’ve done so far. I got to see Europe, live independently in another country, and meet some amazing people that I plan on visiting soon. It takes a lot of effort and planning in the beginning, but it is so worth it in the end. The only downside is how quick time flies: one moment, you’re arriving at Leeds Bradford airport and the next you’re saying goodbye in Manchester.

The Best Experience of My Life So Far

Charlotte E., Bachelor of Justice/Bachelor of Laws (Honours)
Universidad Carlos III Madrid, Spain (Semester 1, 2017)

 

Beautiful Madrid at sunset, on top of the Circulo Bella Artes

For my study abroad experience I was lucky enough to spend one semester at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M). I can whole-heartedly say it was the best experience of my life so far, and I would recommend anyone who has the opportunity to complete a student exchange to do so.

HOW TO PREPARE
• Save! Save as much money as you can in order to make the most of your experience. Whilst Madrid wasn’t expensive, it is important to be able to live comfortably, go out, and say yes to everything you want to do without monetary restrictions. Depending on how much you want to travel in and around Spain I would say aim to have $12,000+ to spend.

• Look into accommodation prior to arrival! I would definitely recommend staying in the city and commuting by train (25 minutes) to uni as opposed to on-campus accommodation, as the location of campus (Getafe) does not have a lot going on compared to the ever-buzzing city centre of Madrid. Check out the company Help Madrid for room rental, and areas like Malasaña, La Latina, Chueca, Gran Via, and Retiro are the best areas to live in!

The view from the Cathedral over La Latina

• Learn some common phrases! Madrid is a very international city, and so in the centre itself it is possible to mainly get by speaking only English. However, you will find it is easier if you do learn some Spanish prior to living there, and it is also greatly appreciated by the locals.

• Have multiple class options! Whilst UC3M has many classes taught In English (if like me your Spanish isn’t at any level of fluency), international students get the last pick of classes, and so when I went to register for the classes I had planned to take, many were unavailable. So, I would recommend having a few different options for classes and timetables.

WHAT TO EXPECT

• At UC3M: compared to QUT, the university itself was far less organized. The teachers were often late, but I think that just links to the fact that in Spain there is no rush for anything. Whilst this didn’t hinder my experience or my ability to learn, it was just bit of an adjustment.

• In Madrid: Expect to fall in love with the city. It is such a vibrant and liveable city, with something going on at all times. It’s not until you are living there that you truly understand what an amazing city it is. Plaza Mayor, Retiro Park, and Palacio Royale are some of my favourite tourist spots.

The Royal Palace of Madrid

• Everything is much later than in Australia! Typical dinner time in Spain is between 10pm and 11pm, which is something that took a little getting used to. Also, Madrid is well known for it’s unrivalled nightlife so be sure to make the most of the multitude of bars and clubs whilst you’re there.

• Travel! With Europe on your doorstep, make the most of being so close to places like France and Portugal. You can get some crazily cheap flights to all over Europe, and head away for the weekend. As well as other countries, be sure to explore Spain itself! One of my favourite parts of my exchange was travelling to different parts of Spain and seeing it in depth, there’s so much to love about this country. Having said this, make sure you spend enough time in Madrid itself to truly appreciate living in this incredible city.

Delicious Food

A Semester Abroad in Leeds

Kate M., Bachelor of Creative Industries/Laws
University of Leeds, England (Semester 2, 2018)

 

When I embarked on my 7 month long exchange adventure, I was nervous, teary eyed (from saying goodbye to the family), anxious but so damn excited! Ever since high school, I knew I wanted to do an exchange program at University. When the opportunity arose in the second semester of my fourth year, I took it!

I was on my way to North England, to the University of Leeds. My original plans to head to Berlin didn’t quite work out for me but I had heard incredible things about the student lifestyle in Leeds. I left a month early, dropped my suitcase off at a friend’s house in London and went on a month long summer trip around Portugal, Spain and Italy. I had never been to Europe or England so travel was my goal – I wanted to see as much as I could!

Abseiling in Ilkley Moore

After a month in the sun, I headed up to Leeds to begin my semester abroad. Unfortunately, I was not given the accommodation I applied for so I was hesitant upon arrival. However, I was thrown into two weeks of Freshers! It was a wild, exhausting and great two weeks and it really helped me kick start my friendships with my new flatmates.

The Parkinson Building – Leeds

After two weeks of partying, it was time to hit the books. I had chosen to study two languages and some other elective subjects… so to be fair, I didn’t have to hit the books too hard. Classes were really interesting and it was great exploring the amazing campus of Leeds. The university environment is very welcoming and it is easy to feel comfortable all around the campus.

The city of Leeds is quite small but there is so much to see in Yorkshire. I went on many weekday and weekend trips to nearby castles and abbeys, other cities and also did many hikes! I would definitely recommend getting out and seeing the region you choose to stay in because, lets be real… study can wait!

Kirkstall Abbey

After a few weeks settling into Leeds, making new friends, partying and exploring, I was getting restless and decided to book a last minute bus to Edinburgh. I spent the weekend sightseeing and meeting even more people. As soon as I got back to Leeds, I scheduled two more trips within the semester – one to Ireland and a week trip to France. I loved living in Leeds because it was a good cheap base and there are so many easy travel options nearby ie. Leeds Airport, Manchester Airport or London.

The main reason I went on exchange was to travel and so I made sure I planned my trips strategically so I didn’t skip too many classes. After classes for the semester ended, my boyfriend flew over and we travelled for a month around mainland Europe and Eastern Europe and also made it to the Ukraine (which I highly recommend). I popped back up to Leeds for exams and travelled again for another month before flying home.

Streets of Leeds

My biggest advice for exchange is make sure you save up some money so you can enjoy, have a good time and travel to new places! Also, be confident, put yourself out there and say yes to new experiences! As long as you have your wits about you and stay safe, you will have some life changing experiences and it will open your eyes to a whole new world. You should probably do a little study while you’re over there too!

 

Leeds Survival Guide Part 5: General Tips

Eleny H., Bachelor of Media and Communications
University of Leeds, England (Semester 2, 2017)

Money

I spent around $14,000 on return flights from Brisbane to Leeds, catered university accommodation, bedding and kitchen items, a trip to Paris, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Tenerife and numerous trips throughout England. My biggest expenses were the return tickets from Brisbane to Leeds and the accommodation. If you’re going to go for the full travel experience it’s best to budget around $15,000 which will get you around Europe and the UK as long as you don’t eat out every, single day. The biggest ways to save some money would be by making your own meals and choosing a non-catered accommodation as well as staying within the UK and making sure you book all trips months in advance (even small train trips).

Accommodation

I ended up in Devonshire Hall which I highly recommend. Even though the accommodation was about a 20-25 minute walk from campus, this allowed me to get my daily exercise and get some fresh air. If you really don’t want to walk, there are busses available for 1 pound per trip or bus passes available which are cheaper if you’re using the bus more than once every day. Check out the First Bus website for more information on buses.

I went with the catered option at Devonshire Hall which meant I received breakfast and dinner Monday to Friday with brunch and dinner on Saturday and lunch on Sunday, all in set time frames. This was incredible because you sit and eat with your friends every morning and night at the same time. This was probably the biggest way for me to avoid loneliness and home-sickness and it gave me a good daily routine. You can just roll out of bed, go to breakfast in your pyjamas and all your friends will be there in the dining hall waiting for you.

Plus, just look at how gorgeous Devonshire is!

Beautiful Devonshire Buildings

There is also a music group, an acapella group and a drama group at Devonshire that perform throughout the year, along with incredibly fun formal dinners where you dress in a Harry Potter-style gown and enjoy a three-course feast.

Devonshire Drama Group

Even though Dev wasn’t my first choice, I was extremely happy to be amongst the other 600 students that got chosen to reside there.

Extra Little Helpful Tips

  • Shops don’t give you plastic bags for free. You pay about 5 pence for a bag which isn’t so expensive, but bringing your own bags is free (there are plenty of tote bags to collect at o-week!)
  • Buy your kitchen and bedding essentials at Wilko or Primark, don’t go with the university packs because they are overpriced and quite bad quality. They even host a couple of IKEA trips at the start of the semester if you need to collect some items.
  • Join a society! They are the best way to make some friends and to bond with the locals. Some societies you might not know exist are the belly dancing society, baking society and even a coffee society.
  • Most importantly, enjoy every moment of exchange because you most likely won’t get an experience like this ever again. Now that I am home, I don’t feel any sadness or regret because I know that I did everything I possibly could do while in Leeds.

So, these are the top things that I have learned while on exchange at Leeds. I hope they give you some insight into what living in Leeds is like. Now it’s time for you to go and explore for yourself.

Top tips for Copenhagen

Yasmine E
Bachelor of Business
Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

 

Need a go-to guide to Copenhagen?

Yassi’s Top CPH tips:

  • Buy a good quality bike
  • Learn the basic phrases
  • Go out and enjoy everything Copenhagen has to offer, trust me there is loads
  • Grocery shop at Lidl and Netto before Fotex
  • When it’s sunny have a day on the Go Boats
  • Eat at Paper Island, Moller and Grod
  • Spend time cycling around the cool little areas like Ostebro, Norrebro and Frederiksberg

  • Use a travel card such as the QANTAS card, it’s the cheapest way to spend money, Copenhagen uses card for everything, very few places will take cash only but many are card only. I would also recommend having multiple cards in different places in cases one is lost or stolen. No need to open a Danish bank account it will be more of a struggle and it’s super easy to just use your Australian bank card it will just charge you a few cents every time you make a purchase.
  • When you arrive in Copenhagen go to Central Station and talk to the people there about what is your best option for a transport card. I personally had 2, one monthly pass that required a passport photo and it would be a once a month payment for unlimited rides on all transport in Zone 1 and 2 but I also had a Rejsekort card which is kind of like a Go Card which I would use if I was going into Zone 3 and 4. Always make sure you pay for transport because the fines are huge!
  • Get a really great everyday backpack
  • Get comfy fashionable sneakers

  • If you are going to make any big purchases make sure they are done within 3 months of leaving Europe to get your tax back at the airport
  • Go for lunch in Sweden… literally it’s like 50 minutes away!
  • Visit other cities in Denmark like Aarhus it’s a really cool town
  • The Danes are not rude just private, don’t be offended if they seem like they are keeping to themselves but if you do need anything they are really lovely.
  • Make your room feel homely, take a trip to IKEA and get little things that will make you feel more at home.
  • PORTABLE CHARGERS!!!! They will save your life! Because it gets so cold your phone will freeze and just shut down so always have a charger with you.

If you would like to know more or have any questions at all no matter how long or small feel free to add me on Facebook and ask away! You are going to have the time of your life, trust me!

From big city Brisbane to small town Trento

The currency in Italy is the Euro which is generally about one third stronger than the Australian dollar. This was a bit of a blow as the money from the scholarship (9.5k) became lesser than anticipated and in this regards the concern of converting it all in one swoop or continuously was a dangerous risk as in some instances (what happened personally) the Australian dollar consistently dropped in strength meaning that when converting you were losing money comparatively if you had converted it all in the beginning.

Compared to Brisbane there prices are rather, odd. Expensive things in Australia would be really cheap in Italy and vice versa. This made a bit of an issue on then seeing the necessity of certain products.

This made having a budget key,

there were three major bills the pay and consider; accommodation rent, phone bill and public transport bill. These monthly would chew a large chunk of your budgeting expenses and didn’t leave much wiggle room, however, after consideration it is reasonably prices putting considerations into effect and made budgeting an easier very serious thing to do.

Personally I used a travel visa card which helped and lessened the need to withdraw money which would have a standard fee to do so and so the travel card was accepted in essentially all cases (besides a flea market).

Trento being a lovely place was easy to settle in and understand how it functioned, it being a small town made it feel safer comparatively to Brisbane big metropolitan city lifestyle. Although I had taken precautionary methods to ensure my safety I found myself being too critical of the locals and the people who were there and decided to present myself to strangers, saying hello, talking, interacting and to my surprise everyone was willing to stop and have a small dialogue.

Joshua C
Bachelor of Engineering
University of Trento, Italy