Living in one of the Prettiest Countries: Exchange in Strathclyde, Scotland

I originally chose to do my year exchange at Strathclyde University because I had never left Australia before and I wanted to go to an English speaking country with a similar culture. The Scot’s are pretty similar to Australian’s, they’re laid back, super friendly, love their beer and footy (well soccer, but that’s not an argument you’ll win over there), and, like us, don’t speak “proper” English. Basically, I felt right at home.

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Glasgow is a perfect city to do exchange if you want to travel. It’s smack bang in the middle of the UK, so you can get anywhere in Britain by bus. Plus, thanks to the beautifully cheap airlines that are Ryanair and EasyJet, flying is crazy. Like I’m talking €10 to pretty much any city in Europe. It’s also a perfect city for students. There are three universities in Glasgow, Strathclyde, Caledonian and the University of Glasgow so there’s a massive student culture. Glasgow is one of Britain’s best cities for night life and live music, and there’s always student discounts and, even though Strathclyde isn’t as pretty or famous as Glasgow Uni, it’s smack bang in the city centre so you don’t have to worry about getting an Uber after a night out or catching transport to go shopping.

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The Uni itself had both good and bad points for me. Firstly, because I was doing a full year, but beginning in their second semester, I had a little trouble with administration. I was unable to register for my second semester there for almost the first 4 weeks which was a massive pain because I missed quite a bit of assessment and they’re not big on extensions over there. Another issues with the Uni, which didn’t have too much affect on me because I wasn’t overly concerned with doing exceedingly well, is that in some subjects don’t have CRA’s for assessment. If you’re going over there to pick up your GPA and do really well, that will be a huge frustration, because it’s not standardised at all. However, if you’re going over for more of the experience, like I did, but also want to do semi-well, the pass rate for subjects is 40% so that’s a huge plus.

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Strathy also has campus residences, so you don’t have to deal with home owners or strict living rules or neighbours. It’s nothing fancy, but definitely more convenient, safe and perfect for making friends quickly. The halls usually have 4-5 people to a flat with a shared kitchen and bathroom. There is 24hr security and maintenance so if anything goes wrong or needs to be replaced it happens pretty quickly. The only thing with campus living, is it’s mainly for first years or internationals. If you’re wanting to meet and properly get to know Scottish people, living on campus isn’t going to help. But, it is so good for making friends from all over the world and perfect for travelling purposes… I didn’t pay for accommodation in Italy or Germany, went to Lithuania for Christmas, and popped into Bali on the way home to visit a friend.

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Financially, although the Australian Dollar to Pound rate is ridiculously crap, living expenses is pretty similar, especially if you shop at Aldi or Tesco. So long as you’ve saved up enough to do everything you want to do, and personally I recommend also getting the HELP loan, you’ll be fine.

My one tip is to come to Europe before your exchange starts or have a few weeks travelling planned after, because it’s too cheap to travel around not to make the most of it. Also, make the most of the day or weekend trips offered by the Uni or societies. It’s an awesome chance to get to know more people and see Scotland or other places without having to be in charge or the schedule.

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Basically just get involved in everything, put yourself out there and go a little crazy, no one knows you, so who cares. I honestly couldn’t recommend exchange, or Scotland, enough. 2015 was the best year of my life!

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