I budgeted about $15,000 AUD for the exchange and spent quite a bit over it. Cost of living in Leeds is generally not too bad but is all dependent on the exchange rate as I got murdered by the British Pound when I was in the UK. Leeds would probably be one of the cheaper cities in the UK and is comparable to Brisbane. If you spend time in London at all you will spend a lot of money as that place is a vacuum for cash. I used a 28 Degrees Mastercard for most purchases as it is an international specific credit card that has zero fees for international purchases. I also used a Citibank debit card for withdrawing cash as it also had zero fees for international use. In the past I have used travel cards but found the two aforementioned cards to be of much greater use due to the convenience and little delay in accessing funds.
I did not experience a culture shock in the UK as the culture is quite similar to Australia. I did however experience and am still experiencing a huge come down from the trip so be prepared for that when you return to Australia. Biggest challenge I faced on exchange would have to be getting to class on Thursday mornings. One must have item on exchange is money and heaps of it as there is always plenty of stuff to spend it on like last minute World Cup Final tickets. Biggest travel tip would be to plan ahead your weekend travels nice and early as the semester goes very fast and you will soon run out of time to fit everything in especially as towards the end you may just want to enjoy the last few weeks in your adopted town. Exchange provided me with an unparalleled opportunity to experience life in a different country and now serves as a useful tool if I wish to seek employment in the UK. This was my second student exchange and I highly recommend it to anyone considering it. You won’t regret it.