Jessica – Oxford Brookes University – Oxford, UK
Semester 1, 2020
Bachelor of Design (Industrial Design)
I went on exchange in my final year of university. I had one minor to complete and knew what I wanted to study, but QUT didn’t offer it. I was stuck. This is when one of my tutors suggested I apply for exchange. My mind instantly went to “omg that sounds terrifying but awesome!” As someone who is cautious about how far they throw themselves out of their comfort zone, I decided I wanted to study in the UK – as I had been there for holidays before and loved it. So, I researched and found the course I wanted to do, but it wasn’t offered on the exchange list – so I emailed QUT STAE and asked if it was possible. Thankfully it was my lucky day – it was only not offered as no one had asked to do the course before!
The next thing I knew, I was off to study Equine Science at Oxford Brookes University! Oxford is a beautiful city located southwest of London. The stone buildings are gorgeous to look at, though building appreciation wasn’t always at the top of my to-do list with the number of pubs around! I would recommend checking out the Lamb and Flag, Turf Tavern, and the Kings Arms. The best part was as everything is within walking distance, pub crawls were a regular event!
- Tip 1: thoroughly explore Oxford City, as there are so many hidden gems! Everything is within walking distance, so you don’t have to worry about transport either (though there is the free uni bus too).
For accommodation, I stayed in one of the university halls – Paul Kent Hall. It had just been renovated so I, along with the 11 other people on my floor were lucky enough to enjoy brand new everything! Everyone quickly became friends, not just with the people on our floor, but the whole building. I met other amazing people from Australia, Germany, France, America, Finland, Canada, Kazakhstan, and Switzerland. My floor became known as the “party floor” as we regularly held gatherings and even started a “family dinner” night each week, where someone from a different country would cook each week.
- Tip 2: Stay in accommodation with the biggest amount of people. You make so many more friends and memories this way!
Paul Kent Hall was only a 20-minute ride on the university’s bus from the main campus or a 30-minute walk. This made it super easy to get to classes. I LOVED the four classes I took: it was great to learn about the English ways of doing things and I was able to compare with them the Australian way. There were only 10 of us (Equine Science is a pretty niche topic) so I got to know everyone really well – even my lecturers. I will forever hold connections with both my friends and the lecturers, who were more than keen to help as much as they could.
- Tip 3: Become friends with everyone – English students and staff are so friendly and willing to help as long as you are keen too!
- Tip 4: Study on campus and make use of the facilities– you are there to experience a different university, not just your room.
As a part of my course, I was able to participate in multiple incredible opportunities. One was to attend the National Equine Forum in London: excitingly, I was seated close to Princess Anne! Another was to conduct a small behavioural experiment with the university’s horses, which actually allowed me to continue my QUT thesis that I had just completed the semester before.
The university also offered exchange students various opportunities both in Oxford and around the country: pub crawls, trivia nights, a high tea, walking tour of the city, and a tour of Christchurch College (a part of Oxford University). My favourite though was a day trip to Bath. Even though it was drizzly and cold (for the record, most other days were sunny), seeing The Circus and The Crescent, tasting the water at the Roman Baths, and eating lunch at Sally Lunn’s was amazing! Did you know: residents would spend all their money making the front of their house look posh to show off, but would leave the back of their house plain and boring because no one could see it!
- Tip 5: Tour as much as you can, whether that be through the university or organised yourself.
The hardest part of my exchange experience was having to come home early. My classes were moved online and thankfully the timezone difference wasn’t too bad. I had learned and experienced so much in just 3 months, I could only imagine what the other 3 months would have brought!
Exchange has been one of the best experiences of my life…I would do it all again in a heartbeat if I could!