Sarah – Manchester Metropolitan University – England
Semester 1, 2023
Bachelor of Behavioural Science
Arrival in London
After an amazing six months, I sit here back in my room and contemplate how I could possibly summarise my exchange experience into just a couple hundred words. I was fortunate enough to be accepted for a semester exchange doing psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University, in the United Kingdom. Although exciting, my journey to the UK was not without a couple of mishaps. After a gruelling 24-hour flight journey, I arrived ready to experience life in the UK. I soon realised I had left my entire wallet back home in Brisbane which led to a frantic search and many tears on the floor of London Gatwick Airport. Luckily, I had taken the advice of the exchange team and stashed some cash and a spare travel card at the very bottom of my suitcase. Crisis was averted for now. I then spent the next few days exploring a very cold London with one of my best friends before heading up north to Manchester and settling into my new home. It did take me a while to adjust to the temperature change, as going from peak summer in Brisbane to negative three degrees was challenging.
I was feeling nervous, but knew I was going to be in for an exciting couple of months. The UK was experiencing a housing crisis at the time which led to some stress as I did not secure accommodation until the week before I left, but I managed to find a share house just a short bus ride from the university with some incredible people. I never actually met anyone else on exchange, as the course coordinator for psychology organised an introductory event where I was the only person that turned up! Nevertheless, I was extremely grateful for my 4 British housemates that made me feel so welcome, and I quickly become part of the group. These amazing people showed me the ins and outs of Manchester, while I attempted to convert them over to Australian Indie music by forcing them to come to the Spacey Jane concert with me.
I started my first week at the university and was able to notice the differences in teaching and learning styles, with most work being self-directed. While studying at Manchester, I had to complete four essays for each of my four subjects with no exams! I thought it would be challenging to make friends in my course, as I was entering the last semester of year 3 in Manchester, however I quickly made some good friends in my course that made going to university so much more enjoyable. The university break arrived quickly, and I found myself heading off to Edinburgh over Easter with one of my best friends who was completing exchange over in Prague. We had the most amazing time exploring the amazing city before heading off on a Scottish Highland tour where we tried to find the Loch Ness Monster (we didn’t). We took a very long bus ride back to Manchester and a couple of days later I set off at an ungodly hour of the morning to Vienna, but hey anything for that 17-pound Ryanair flight. I was so impressed about how easy and affordable it was to travel around Europe, and I spent 11 days interrailing solo! I did get to spend a couple of days with my bestie in Prague and crashed on the floor of her dorm room which opened my eyes to her own unique exchange experience. I finally arrived at my last destination, Berlin, only to find out my flight back was cancelled due to strikes. It was a very stressful hour trying to work out how I was going to make it back to Manchester in time to submit my assignments. Eventually I made it back, finished up my last couple of weeks of university before embarking on another trip. I was lucky to meet a great group of friends, and we all headed up to Scotland, this time to Glasgow, Isle of Skye and a tiny town called Mallaig just after finishing the university semester.
The End of 6 Months
Eventually June arrived and it was time to say goodbye to all the sensational people I had met. I don’t think I realised how hard it would be to say goodbye, and I may or may not have been hysterically crying on the train back to London. But I managed to pull it together in time to go on another solo trip around Europe, but this time for 6 weeks. All together I managed to travel to 15 different countries and 37 cities over my time abroad and am incredibly grateful to have had this opportunity. I learnt so much about myself and living so independently really made me grow as a person. I also made sure to keep a budget going so that I could fully fund my travels and expenses without working. I would recommend going on exchange to everyone as it honestly was the most amazing 6 months of my life. I have already started planning my next trip back to the UK and Europe, as well as trying to convince all my new friends to visit me in Australia.
Find out how you can apply for exchange via the QUT Student Exchange website.