Europe First impressions Student exchange

London: The Good and Bad in the Best Experience of My Life

Banjo – University of Leeds – England

Semester 1, 2023

Bachelor of Business


After completing my high school experience in the peak of covid and starting at QUT whilst social distancing was still a thing, I feel like many of my peers can relate when I say that University culture has been basically non-existent for my whole degree. With major lacks in student engagement both in class and socially. My experience studying abroad at the University of Leeds was the complete opposite. Essentially making up for my whole lack of any University culture at this point in 6 months.

First Impressions

My first night in Leeds might be the best example of this. After spending nearly 40 hours flying to London, compliments of a 16 hour overnight delay in Singapore, the first person I met in Leeds was my Canadian flatmate Arman. After a brief chat in the hallway Arman proceeded to bring 20 other exchange students into our kitchen. Whilst many people would probably be quite overwhelmed from such intense social interaction especially being in the state I was, this experience was weirdly calming and meeting all these other people who were in the exact same situation as I was reassured all my nerves. After introductions all around we proceeded to go to the local Wetherspoons where I talked to a few people I would end up being really close friends with. After knowing I was too tired to remember anyone’s names regardless, I proceeded to by my first pint, which cost me $2.80 AUD.

One thing I can say however is whilst the Brits have dirt cheap alcohol, they make up for it in grocery prices. The local Coles equivalent was a supermarket called Morrisons. The next morning after properly introducing myself to my 7 flatmates, desperately trying to remember their names this time we proceeded to go grocery shopping. After spending too much money on stupid groceries, this being the first time I’ve ever had to properly cook for just myself, me and my flatmate Dougal stumbled upon oven bake garlic breads for 30p. This would be our snacking meal for the next 5 months in Leeds. With our combined record being 9 bought in one shop.

University Life

After remembering I did actually have to study, I went to my first classes. The feeling of walking to my first tutorial was exactly the same of that as my first class at QUT. I’m not sure entirely why, maybe I thought it would a new different teaching style to back home I would completely be unprepared for. However, it was exactly the same. Whilst Leeds had proven to be a very social environment so far nothing could escape the 90 minutes of a complete lack of social interaction which are finance tutorials. Despite this the content taught in tutorials was some of the most interesting I have learnt in my entire degree. With guest lectures from all over the globe being a common experience, with after having a chat with one I managed to organise myself a digital internship.

Meeting the Locals

However, this lack of student engagement during my classes was not the case socially. Many of the other Leeds students who lived in the same accommodation as me where from England and I managed to make quite a few friends with these people. After a while I managed to meet Luke, and Toby. two first year British guys who were both older than me despite me being in my third year of uni. These guys ended up being some of the coolest people I met whilst on exchange and often after returning home after a night out they somehow always both seemed to be sitting outside and I’d end up staying up talking for another hour. With both planning to come over to Australia in the near future.

Tips and Tricks

Whilst there were low points, mainly getting freshers flu on my second week in and proceeding to spend the next 3 weeks unwell. The highs of the highs took all the edge off any lows and remembering bad times from my exchange is genuinely a challenge. A main highlight from my exchange is the ability to travel amazing countries for so cheaply. Keep an eye on Skyscanner for stupidly cheap flights just for random weekend trips. For example, we spontaneously went to Copenhagen for 5 days because our flights only cost $30 AUD return. By the time I get home after travelling I will have been to 34 different places in 13 different countries. Another major tip of advice is to pack lightly, I had 18kgs when some of my flat mates had multiple bags totalling nearly 50kg, and either have a very high quality suitcase or a backpack.

Whilst I could honestly speak forever about my time on exchange, I hope I have given a good brief overview of my time in Leeds. And I can not say it enough going on exchange will be one of the best experiences of your life.


Find out how you can apply for exchange via the QUT Student Exchange website.

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