An Unforgettable Exchange in Exeter

Jasmine B. Bachelor of Journalism / Bachelor of Laws (Honours)
University of Exeter, England (Semester 1, 2016)

It feels incredibly surreal now, thinking back to my semester spent abroad in England. Ever since I had heard about the unique opportunity to study on exchange, I knew it was something I had to be a part of. I’m pleased to report that the experience was even more remarkable then I had imagined. Between the international friendships made, exploring European cities, and getting to be a part of another culture, there really wasn’t a dull moment!

Host University: The University of Exeter

Above: Reed Hall, on the University of Exeter campus

University Campus

I spent my semester abroad in the Southeast of England, in the picturesque county of Devon. I studied at the University of Exeter (where J.K. Rowling graduated from, for the Harry Potter fans), using my electives from my Law degree to experience a range of disciplines, including: Philosophy, Sociology, Politics and Law. It gave me a great taste of their teaching methods, as well as enabling me to engage with a range of students. The campus itself is beautiful, built on the top of a hill overlooking the city of Exeter. It’s size and student intake is significantly lesser in size to QUT, which was fun to experience, as you often find yourself running into familiar faces around campus. The university hosts a combination of modern and heritage buildings, which cover a lot of great facilities including: student medical centre, pub, sporting halls, eateries, libraries and even a theatre.

Accommodation

 

James Owen Court University Residences

I undertook my exchange in the second semester of their academic year, which meant there were only a limited number of campus-run accommodation on offer. However, those planning on studying here in the first semester would have a larger choice of accommodation options (including catered, self-catered, ensuite and studio). My accommodation, as pictured above, was at ‘James Owen Court’ which was a 20-minute walk from the main campus and was located in the centre of the city. The location worked out perfectly, as I only spent two days at the University, so the other days I could spend enjoying cream teas and shopping in the city! It was a self-catered facility, where I shared a kitchen between seven other roommates. The rooms were ensuite, and a laundromat was available on the premises.

It was my first time living out of home, but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and the independence. I arrived in Exeter alone, but met a huge group of international students along the way, who all quickly grew to be close friends.

International Students Group

Exeter Cathedral Square

Host Country: England (Exeter) The cost of living in England is quite high, especially if you’re living in bigger cities such as London. However, Exeter was quite affordable, and there were a range of places to eat and shop at a more affordable price (I would strongly recommend the local hangout, ‘The Old Firehouse’ which apparently inspired the Leaky Cauldron from the Harry Potter series). When it comes to travelling, there’s some great ways to get around Europe on a budget. One weekend I flew with a friend to Dublin for the low cost of 8 pounds (approximately $16 dollars). So, if researched right, travelling can be very inexpensive! I even secured a paid internship whilst living in Exeter, which helped offset some of the costs and gave me an even better insight into the city and the locals. The great thing about England is that you speak the same language, and hold a lot of the same cultural views, so there really isn’t any culture shock to be experienced – apart from the constant rain, that is!

All in all, exchange was an unforgettable experience, and there wasn’t a single moment I didn’t enjoy. Exchange presents an incredible opportunity to challenge yourself, step out of your comfort zone and develop your independence and awareness of different cultures.

A few extra snaps from my travels in Europe:

Copenhagen, Denmark

Cinque Terre, Italy

Paris, France

Embracing Student Life in Exeter

Matilda P., Bachelor of Mass Communication
University of Exeter, England, (Semester 2, 2016)

I started the process of applying for exchange two years ago. A friend had recently returned from Exeter University and ignited my interest in that particular university. I had previously lived in the UK a few years ago and was thrilled with the opportunity to return. The culture and history of the UK, and my friend’s recommendation of the vibrant student city of Exeter, propelled me into action and solidified my decision.My first impression of Exeter was a lovely city filled with old buildings and lots of green spaces. I arrived at my college in the morning sunshine (unusual for England!) , met my college roommates and settled into my room which featured an en-suite, which I had never had before, so I was thoroughly excited! Our college or “halls” as it is referred to in the UK, was located approximately 20 minutes from the central university campus, along a leafy path dotted with old houses. We ventured into university during ‘freshers” week and I was impressed with the extensive modern facilities the university provided staff and students. As a recognised university within the UK, known for its high academic achievements and sporting honours, the societies, clubs and teams available were extensive compared to that available to QUT. There is a culture within the UK university system, particularly with recognised universities where being a part of a sport, a society and playing an instrument is encouraged, and many students partake in this. Much like Australian high school culture, which I found to be similar in the class rooms as well. Tutors were generally lecturers as well, and had very small class sizes, and independent learning was generally kept to a minimum. This culture was hard to adapt to, as I had always thrived as an independent learner at QUT, and encouraged and provided with the resources to do so. However, I credit this way of learning to Exeter University’s academic success, and along with its extensive sporting culture, were definitely the university’s strengths. University of Exeter is known for a breadth of studies, particularly the arts, law, and business. I took advantage of this, and studied art subjects in art history and visual art as electives.

Accommodation wise, most international students were placed at James Owen Court, a brick college of four stories, with approximately 6 roommates on each floor in separate bedrooms. The college was centrally located on the main street of Exeter, joked about by students for its location near the ‘dodgy’ end of town, where in fact it was just close to the shopping mall, and many bars and restaurants. All bills were included in our accommodation, and our facilities featured ping pong tables, an outside grassy area with picnic tables and a laundry.

Budgeting was one of the hardest parts of exchange, and I budgeted between five and seven thousand dollars, as recommended from another friend. The cost of living was pretty comparable to Brisbane, but having to transfer Australian dollars to the pound (nearly half) made budgeting difficult and I struggled in the first month to stick to my budget. I used both my Australian bank cards and an international money card, and split my finances across both quite evenly.

I was lucky to experience little culture shock, as I had previously lived in the UK, and was well versed in English culture. For future exchange students, I am confident the culture shock will be limited in the UK due to the country being English speaking; however, the weather always takes time to adjust to. To ensure my safety overseas I joined International SOS which sends emails and texts about terrorism, natural disasters, strikes and anything that could disrupt your travel, which occur more in Europe than in Australia, and is something to be aware of. I also made sure to email my parents where I was going and who I was with just in case of emergencies.

My “must have” item on exchange was my international money card which you can upload numerous currency’s on, my laptop, and copies of documents such as my passport, and birth certificate; in case of loss or damage. I would highly recommend the Cash Passport multi-currency card, as a bank card of choice, and EasyJet for flights within the UK and around Europe.

On return to Australia the hardest part for me was trying to capture and describe my journey to friends and family, and adapting to life as it was before, after you have been through all these life changing experiences. Academically, the different styles of learning in the UK really opened my eyes to how other countries learn and what they require academically from their students is very different from that in Australia and at QUT. Professionally, the ability to travel, and to have lived in another country is highly regarded by employees and is only beneficial for future employment opportunities. I would highly recommend university exchange to anyone with the optimism and desire to learn and experience a different culture, I would also recommend them to be diligent and persevere with their exchange application process in order to achieve their goals. University exchange is so valuable for students, you can spend weekends at Stonehenge, study breaks in Paris and meet people from all over the world while gaining real world experience in another country, and I am so thankful to QUT for that opportunity.

My Short but Sweet Time in the United Kingdom

Su Jin Lim, Masters of Business

Short-term program: University of Exeter ‘International Summer School’

England (June/July 2018)

It had always been a lifelong dream of mine to study in the UK; therefore when I saw QUT’s Global Exchange Portal advertising the International Summer School Program at the University of Exeter, I knew I had to do it.

In order to make full use of my winter break, I made the choice to extend my trip and arrive 2 weeks before summer school began. In that time span, I took the opportunity to sight see around London and the beautiful Welsh countryside. I had the opportunity of visiting, Highgate Cemetery (The burial place of Karl Marx), shopping along Oxford Street, and most importantly going to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Leavesden (It would have been blasphemous for me not to do so!). I spent one week in Wales with my relatives at their smallholdings estate up in Lampeter. Over there we drove around to different places and visited historical sites and museums.

One of the “must-have” shots for anyone who visits the Harry Potter studios.

I then returned to Convent Garden in London where my summer school program began. By this time, London was experiencing one of the worst heat waves, which really was equivalent to a typical Brissie Summer, except it was a lot more humid. We were scheduled to stay in London for the next 4 days for sightseeing. The summer school coordinators planned the trip such that we had plenty of leisure time to explore the city on our own. Luckily for me, I managed to meet friends on the first day of the program, they became my travel buddies throughout the trip. During our stay in London, we were taken to see iconic places such as Tower Bridge, House of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, and the British Museum. The most memorable part of the trip was having the opportunity to watch Shakespeare’s “A Winter’s Tale” at the Globe Theatre just like how people used to watch it back in the day (i.e. standing up for the whole play!). Never have I ever cried and laughed so hard watching a play, the acting and the whole experience of it was honestly quite moving.

Waiting for the play to begin at the Globe Theatre.

Bright and early on our last day in London, we boarded our buses for the 4 ½ hour journey to Exeter. The moment we arrived in Exeter, we were greeted with typical British weather which quite ironically I found to be quite warm and welcoming. I think it was because it was the English weather I was expecting to experience rather than the warm sticky weather. We were all assigned rooms at the on campus accommodation at the University of Exeter. Each of us had our own ensuite toilets, a bed, and a large desk. I technically shared a “flat” with 5 other students and we all had access to a common kitchen. Meals were not catered for, which allowed us full freedom to plan all our meals. Quick tip: I highly recommend you try eating-in when you can; it gives you the opportunity to learn how to cook for yourself but to also to learn the cuisine of other international students cooking in the flat as well. My accommodation was a 10 minute walk to campus and all its facilities which was really convenient for us.    

The Iconic University of Exeter “Rock”.

Class picture on our last day of class with our two module facilitators (Standing on the far left and right).

I enrolled for the “Adapting Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to Improve Accessibility to Psychological Therapies” module at summer school. Classes were 4 hours a day, in 2 hour blocks. Despite the intensity of our classes, I thoroughly enjoyed them as it was highly interactive and very much hands on. I only had 12 other students in my class which gave us the opportunity to really bond with one another and having sessions better tailored to our needs. The assessments for our course were broken down into two parts. Firstly, we had to design a psycho-education leaflet tailored towards international students from a specific country/region. Secondly, we had to give a 30 minute presentation explaining our target sample, design of our leaflet, and how we worked together as a group. 

Visiting the underground tunnels of Exeter.

The town of Bath.

During the two weekends we had at Exeter, we made it a point to do as much sightseeing as we could. We took day trips to the town of Bath (a UNESCO World Heritage site), St. Ives, and we were even adventurous enough to cycle 44km to visit the nearby port town of Exmouth. All of these places were truly amazing and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Overall, I will say that the International School Program at the University of Exeter was amazing such that it allowed you time to learn and having enough time to sightsee, it was really a rewarding experience. Not only did I get the opportunity to visit the beautiful places the UK had to offer, but I was also able to form lifelong friendships with students from all other the globe. To anyone reading this and is interested on going to the UK, I highly recommend applying for this program. You will not regret it, I definitely didn’t J