Alexandra – City University of London – United Kingdom
Semester 1, 2023
Bachelor of Behavioural Science
My name is Alex, and I have just completed six months of study in London at City University as part of my psychology degree. QUT’s study abroad program gave me the perfect opportunity to step outside my comfort zone and travel overseas solo for the first time. I chose London as my destination due to the excellent academic and travel opportunities that the city provides.
The beauty of London
London proved to be the perfect city for my six-month adventure – due to its size and diversity, it was impossible to be bored. After nearly a semester of living in London had passed there were still so many new restaurants to try, places to sightsee, and experiences to be had. Even after I got used to red telephone boxes, double-decker buses and walks in Hyde park, London continued to surprise and delight me with everything it had to offer. One of the great joys of exchange was the opportunity to experience the city as a student rather than a tourist, which allowed me to see numerous parts of the city I wouldn’t have otherwise explored as I joined my friends for concerts, markets, and other events across London.
While living overseas seemed daunting at first, I was able to quickly settle in with the help of City University faculty, friendly student accommodation staff and my amazing new roommates. For those planning to study abroad, I highly recommend looking into colleges and other student accommodation options organised by the university as it is a great way to meet new people. Also, as much as I love London, it is on the expensive side, so having some flatmates to split the cost of groceries with doesn’t hurt.
My host university provided an excellent orientation for its students, including walking tours of the area and social events for all exchange students. Heading into exchange, my biggest concern was making new friends and building a community in a big, busy city. However, due to City University’s introduction program for incoming students, I was able to connect with others from all over the world who had come to study abroad. Returning home, I now have close friends all the way from Europe to South America.
Pros and cons of a new study environment
The first big challenge I faced at City University was getting my head around the different grading systems and assessment types, as all universities around the world structure their courses slightly differently. On the plus side, a new university meant I could investigate new subjects and areas of study within my field. Thanks to exchange, I was able to sign up for three electives that were not available at QUT and found that each of them provided me with new perspectives and a greater understanding of the field of psychology.
Travelling in Europe
Another great benefit of staying in London were the travel opportunities it provided, both to Europe and northern Africa. At least once a month, often more, I was able to take a weekend trip to a foreign country I may never have had another chance to visit. As someone who has grown up in Australia, this was an incredibly exciting new opportunity that I feel I took full advantage of. Some of my favourite trips included areas of the Canary Islands all the way up to small Swedish towns; both of which I may not have considered visiting if it weren’t for exchange. Seeing these parts of the world have further broadened my horizons and showed me the joys of travelling backpacker-style, meeting amazing strangers, and attempting new languages. In between studying I also managed to do a small section of the El Camino De Santiago through Portugal, which was one of the most difficult yet rewarding challenges I have undertaken.
Overall, living abroad has helped me to become more independent and resourceful (and hopefully improved my cooking skills). One of the biggest benefits of exchange was being forced to navigate new environments and handle tricky situations independently, therefore helping me to develop so many essential life skills. Study abroad is an amazing opportunity that I definitely recommend anyone take advantage of while completing their degree.
Find out how you can apply for exchange via the QUT Student Exchange website.