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A Trip to Never Forget

Thomas- Oxford Brookes University- England 

Semester 2, 2023 

Bachelor of Fine Arts (Film, Screen and New Media) 


During the second half of 2023, I was privileged enough to complete the study abroad program in Oxford, UK. Before arriving in England, I was very nervous about how I would cope during my time away. However, I can safely say that being a part of the exchange program was one of the best experiences of my life. If you are thinking of going overseas for exchange, here are a few things I wish I knew when I first applied.  

My partner university – Oxford Brookes – had many resources at their disposal. As a film student, this was unexpected as I had only applied for theory-based subjects where I only expected to use resources that I already owned.  At the Richard Hamilton building, there was a computer lab where every program as a film student was available every day for 24hrs. Industry standard programs such as Final Draft were free to use at my convenience which was greatly helpful for completing assessment work. 

Furthermore, there were many opportunities to talk to people in the British Film and Television industry which made my experience a lot richer. In particular, my screenwriting tutor – Paolo Russo – brought in television and film producers and screenwriters of various levels of the film industry. One person of note-worthy status was Academy Award Winning Screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (the writer of Slumdog Millionaire, The Full Monty and 127 Hours). Getting to know his beginnings as a screenwriter and his research process for his films was incredibly helpful and inspiring for me to hear as a young creative. Furthermore, listening to the other producers discuss their experiences as well as watch some of their award-winning short films was immensely eye opening and allowed me as it allowed me to get an insight into the landscape of the film and television industry of the United Kingdom.  

Tonnes of people, including myself, assumed that there would be heaps of time to travel during their time on exchange. However, what I would highly recommend people do is to take advantage of the environment they are in or do smaller, local trips during their study time. Larger international trips can be quite difficult during education as constant travel could be quite tiring. As such, I would recommend doing these larger trips before or after study to make the most of the location of where you are. For me, I took advantage of Oxford’s beautiful environments. From the old buildings, libraries, museums, pubs and especially punting on the rivers were all so beautiful and allowed me to further experience and immerse myself within the culture of the United Kingdom. Some of my personal recommendations would be Holywell Street, St Mary’s Passage and New College Lane. All of these streets have wonderful markets as well as old stone buildings which really immersed me in the culture of Oxford. 

If you are also over during the second half of the year, the Guy Fawkes Festival is an event that I would highly recommend. The entire night is one big festival filled with carnival rides and food and drink trucks that ends in a bonfire that is truly spectacular. The sheer scale of the event was something that is needed to be seen to be believed.  

Before starting my exchange, I was worried about the difficulties of making friends overseas. It turned out very quickly that was not the case. Both in college and on campus, I made a plethora of friends – both from Australia and the United Kingdom. In my college block, Warneford Hall, there was a lot of other Australian exchange students going through similar experiences which created a sense of belonging at the college. However, it was also nice to have a diverse community of friends at the university. I would highly recommend joining as many societies as possible in order to make it easier to meet people outside of your Australian community. For myself, I joined the Drama, Quidditch, Rowing, Dance, Whovian and Film Societies which were a great way of socialising with kind and interesting people.  

Many cultural aspects of the United Kingdom are separate and similar in many ways. On the one hand, the education and multi-cultural society was very similar to Australia which made it easy to settle in to. However, the currency conversion was a big cultural shock to me as I had realised just how much more expensive everything is compared to Australia. If you are planning to go to the UK, I would recommend purchasing a worldwide travel card for smaller conversion rates and downloading a currency app to tell you how much things are going to cost.  

Overall, my experience as an exchange student was nothing short of incredible. Being able to explore the culture of the United Kingdom as a student was one of the most profound experiences of my life. My time away was filled with such special memories that I will never forget. To anyone who is thinking about wanting to go on exchange, I would highly recommend you do so. Being an exchange student was one of the happiest times of my life and something which I do not regret at all. 

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

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