Happiest Time of My Life

Jade P., Bachelor of Business / Bachelor of Laws (Honours)
University of Strathclyde, Scotland (Semester 1, 2016)

What a task – asking me to reflect on my exchange experience in less than one page, where to even begin?

Semester 1, 2016 was the happiest six months of my life.

I did my exchange at the University of Strathclyde in the oh-so-sunny Glasgow, Scotland. That was typed with the heaviest sarcastic tone FYI, I think I had about seven days’ worth of sun during my time in Glasgow – I even had to go out and buy a lighter foundation!

I lived on the top floor of the second-cheapest accommodation option, with seven other girls. For six of which, English was their second language, so anytime the American girl or I noticed a mistake in their English, we had to write it out on ‘the fridge’ (cue: dun-dun-duuun). After 4 and a half months the fridge was filled with the most hilarious out of context sentences and embarrassingly enough even something I had said managed to make it there. In my defence, Australian English okay! And that’s another thing I had to learn, to make fun of the country that I’m so proud to call home. I don’t know why, but Europeans don’t quite consider us a real country yet; you should have heard the sassy comments on the night of Eurovision! I’ve heard it all from riding kangaroos to buying my groceries with monopoly money – people will laugh at us and our “what is a bogan?” accent, but at the end of the day you will be their favourite international drinking bud – take it all in pride.

I am so relieved to report that I did not have any Scottish teachers, except for one guest law lecturer, and yes – I did not understand a single word he said. We call ourselves multicultural; wait until you go to school in Europe. I’ve learnt from people all over the globe, Egyptian, Greek, Spanish, African, Lithuanian, you name it. Their teaching staff were so globally experienced, name a country and they’ve worked there.

Moving onto the most important part of the exchange, Spring Break (sorry Mum). 3 girls, 6 countries, 10 cities, 5 flights, 1 overnight bus, a cross-country drive, a night on an airport floor, countless hostels, and endless coffee, all in 15 days. Now I can officially say I’ve walked to the smallest country in the world! I’m not even going to try and dive into this trip because there are too many stories for one page, and it’s something you just have to go out there and experience for yourself.

I honestly cannot even begin to explain how amazing my exchange was – I will always be so grateful for this experience and the support QUT offered from beginning to end. Being able to live, and study abroad with the administrative and financial help from your university isn’t an opportunity you should just let pass you by. My advice to those considering an exchange, go to virtual>study>open exchange application and submit. To those that are eagerly counting down the days until their flights, boy do I envy you! Just take each day as it comes and make the most of whatever situation you find yourself in. Don’t waste your weekend’s Facebooking friends from your dorm room – RyanAir is your new best friend. Book those $15 6:50am flights and go out and get a taste of the world! Everything will still be waiting for you when the dreaded day comes and you have to make your trek home. Then you’ll be where I am now, wishing more than anything that you could wake up and do it all over again.

Getting Giddy in Glasgow

Liam M., Bachelor of Journalism / Bachelor of Laws (Honors)
University of Glasgow, Scotland (Semester 2, 2016)

There is a saying in french: Il n’y a d’homme plus complet que celui qui a beaucoup voyage, qui a change vingt fois la forme de sa pensée et de sa vie, which means that there is no man more complete than he who has travelled a lot, who has changed the shape of his thoughts and his life twenty times. And to be frank, I think this sums up my exchange experience beautifully.

For me the whole idea of embarking on an exchange program was to broaden my mind and my life through another culture or cultures so that upon my return I could come back enriched with life experience, great memories and stories that I will remember forever. I have been fortunate throughout my life to have travelled with my family, but there is nothing quite like moving overseas by yourself for the very first time. This was my reality on the 23rd of August 2016 as I ventured on a 26 hour flight to Paris, and then eventually over to the University of Glasgow, Scotland.

Words couldn’t describe the emotions that I was feeling after spending over a week in Paris, five days in London and then finally arriving in Glasgow. As I hopped out of Glasgow Central train station I arrived in what could be described as typical Scottish summer weather, 13 degrees and raining. However, I couldn’t be more excited to move into my student flat.

Over the coming days and weeks everything seemed to move very fast. From moving in, to making new friends and countless orientation activities and to the infamous “freshers week” everything was great. I couldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else in the world. However, nothing will challenge you more on exchange than being essentially alone, and sick overseas. Halfway through freshers week, I had contracted tonsillitis for the very first time, and it was a very trying time as I attempted to take care of myself, while extremely sick. This is probably one thing you cannot prepare for before going on exchange, as no one can predict how healthy you’re going to be while overseas. However, it taught me that you really have to look after yourself no matter how much fun you’re having, eat good food, get enough sleep and in Scotland, wear the appropriate warm clothes so you don’t get sick. The University of Glasgow had made every exchange student feel extremely welcome by throwing all sorts of events throughout the coming weeks. One particular favourite was the Ceilidh, a Scottish party where traditional dances take place.

Throughout the semester I took three subjects, equivalent to QUT’s four. I probably didn’t enjoy them as much as I should have, but learning about a different country’s legal system was interesting albeit challenging at the same time. I made a lot of friends at GU, who weren’t just exchange students. This is because I joined the legal society and GUSWPC, which is Glasgow Uni’s swimming and water-polo club. This was probably the highlight of my time abroad because I made many local Scottish and English friends that will be in my life for many, many years. This would be my main recommendation to anyone going on exchange and wanting to immerse themselves in their host universities life: join a club or society that you’re interested in, as it is the easiest way to make local friends and to really have a good time. I was lucky enough to be selected on the men’s water-polo and men’s swimming teams. With swimming, I was able to compete at the British National University Championships, local club meets, inter-university league matches and the Scottish National Swimming Championships. I even took part in a swimming camp in the Canary Islands after my exchange had finished, which was the best way to say goodbye to my Scottish friends.

I also got a job while in Glasgow, and this showed me a very different side to Scottish culture and allowed me to experience different things while abroad. I was also able to spend my hard earned Scottish pounds. I made the most of days off uni and weekends when I wasn’t working by travelling around Scotland and England as much as I could. From St. Andrews, to Edinburgh, to the Scottish Highlands and the different Lochs and Isles. Scotland was more beautiful than I imagined. Though, throughout all this travelling I still had to keep up with my studies, and before I knew it, Christmas exams were around the corner and it dawned on me that the end of my time in Glasgow was almost here. I tried to extend my exchange for another semester, but subject approvals let me down. Nevertheless I couldn’t have been happier with how my time in Scotland went.

However, even though my exchange at Glasgow was up, my real travelling time was just beginning. From the beginning of January to the end of February I visited 14 countries throughout Europe and the middle-east, I made lots of friends, had many sleepless nights, ate delicious different foods, got food poisoning, went skiing in the Austrian Alps, visited eastern Europe and made many memories that will be with me forever. I really couldn’t have asked for a better exchange experience, because everything I did, I loved, and I wouldn’t change a thing (except maybe applying for a year exchange instead of 6 months 😛 ). However, I have come back a more mature, sophisticated, well travelled boy who can now share my stories in the hopes that many other future QUT students use their abilities to embark on what really is a once in a life time opportunity to study abroad. Thank you Study Abroad QUT for giving me this opportunity. I couldn’t be more grateful.

Getting Creative in Glasgow

Anna Banszel, Bachelor of Design (Architecture) 

Short-term Program: University of Glasgow ‘Scottish Urban Landscapes in Film and Glass’

Scotland (July 2018)

While Brisbane shivered this winter I was over in sunny Britain studying Scottish Urban
Landscape in Film and Glass at the Glasgow School of Art (GSA). This intense
one-week course combined research with technical experience in the renowned
photography and glass workshops at the GSA.

Through my research I discovered that Glasgow has been settled since prehistoric
times and rapidly expanded during the 16th century when traders and craftspeople
converged in the city. Glasgow still maintains that legacy of quality of craftsmanship,
with the GSA being an exemplar of world-class art education.

On day one and two I learnt 35mm photography. With a camera provided by the
university I roamed the gritty streets of Glasgow capturing moments of urbanity in
one of the most beautiful and diverse cities I have ever experienced. Developing my
film in the dark rooms was both technically and creatively challenging. There is a lot of
scope for creative expression after the film is shot. In making my prints from my
negatives I experimented with exposure and filter to get the results I was after.

Photography lab.

For days three to five we moved into the glass studios to learn glass art. The
photographs I developed on my first two days informed the design of my bespoke
stained glass panel. In this studio I learnt how to design my panel, cut the glass,
solder the lead, apply the putty between the lead and glass and paint the glass.

Glass art studio.

On the last day all the international students were invited to a gathering were we
met other students and saw the work people had produced. All the staff at GSA
were really friendly and approachable. Though it’s part of huge university the vibe
at the GSA is more like a boutique studio run by artists who value collaboration and
push the creative boundaries.

Glass and photos.

Before I took this course, I’ll admit Glasgow was never on my list of places to see. I
had been to Edinburgh and the Scottish highlands and considered Scotland ticked
off my travel list. Big mistake – Glasgow is brilliant! If you’re after culture it’s home
to fine institutions like the Scottish Ballet, if you want a social atmosphere head to
the West End and explore the bars. If you want history there are loads of museums
and if fancy gardens the Glasgow Botanic Gardens can take a whole day to
explore. It doesn’t get dark till after 10pm either, so you can take your time. One of
my favourite nights out was seeing Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing in the
Botanic Gardens for five pounds.

Glasgow skyline.

Glasgow university.

I stayed at the GSA accommodation where I had my own ensuite room. It was
modern and clean with a shared kitchen with all the facilities needed to cook meals.
With so many places to eat out I only really used the kitchen for breakfasts but if I’d
been there for longer I would have been cooking up a storm. Washing machines
were also available for laundry, it was five minutes walk from the studios and
staffed until 7pm every day. Price of living is similar to Australia. For lunch I usually
went to a convenience store and got a sandwich or salad for about $5 AUD. Once I
was in Glasgow I walked everywhere, or took a black cab if it was late at night.
Getting to Glasgow from London or Edinburgh is easiest by rail and prices are
lower if you book online in advance.

My experience at GSA differed from my experience at QUT in that GSA was all
studio based. Other than that it was similar – we learnt the techniques, studied the
context and worked from a design brief under the guidance of our tutors.

If I could offer advice to anyone considering taking this course is to go with an open
mind and willingness to push yourself creatively. I’d also recommend you give
yourself a few days either side of your course to explore the city and meet some
locals. I extended my trip to three weeks to visit London and Copenhagen. It was
great to have that down time to balance the trip with work and play.
My only complaint about this course was that it wasn’t long enough!

Me in London.

Couldn’t be happier with Edinburgh Napier

Alicia Shorey, Bachelor of Design
Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland (Semester 1, 2018)

View from Edinburgh Castle

When they say exchange will be the best experience of your life they aren’t lying. My time in Edinburgh was all that and more. Not only did I make great friends, but I got to eat my way all over Europe tasting different foods and experiencing new cultures.

Giles Church

Edinburgh Napier University is a small university with 3 different locations in Edinburgh. The university is quite laid back with classes being a combination of lectures and tutorials. Edinburgh is such a livable city with most things in walking distance. I decided to live off campus as it was more affordable and provided me with a more “local” experience. The suburb of Newington was a perfect location with everything from bars, clubs and restaurants all in walking distance. Arthur’s seat was right next door to my house and was a great place to unwind, reflect and see the city from a higher vantage point and is something I highly recommend doing. Edinburgh as a city is beautiful and rich in history and was the perfect place to go on exchange. You will never run out of things to while in Edinburgh. Hogmanay Celebrations -Whilst in Edinburgh I tried many forms of Haggis, took part in the Hogmanay celebrations went Ceilidh dancing and went sledding and picnicking through the meadows, however, what I enjoyed most was watching how people reacted to 14 degree heat (SUNBAKING!).

If I could recommend anything it would be to make the most of your time and travel as much as you can. Exchange provides the luxury of giving you the time to travel to where has cheap flights, so you don’t need a huge budget to be able to travel around, you just have to be strategic.  Because of this, I travelled to a number of countries that I didn’t even consider on going to before but ended up having the best time.

The six months I spent in Edinburgh has taught me so many things. The opportunity to live in another city and travel around both with friends as well as individually has taught me a lot about myself but most importantly has fulled a desire to travel and explore more in the future.

Scottish Exchange

Emily, W. Bachelor of Business and Law

Strathclyde University, Glasgow, United Kingdom (Semester 1, 2017)

In Semester 1, 2017 I had the opportunity to study in Glasgow, Scotland for 5 months. Departing sunny Brisbane I landed in the UK to rain, wind and eventually non-stop snow until April. Glasgow is the largest and most vibrant city in Scotland, with approximately 2 million of the friendliest Glaswegians populating arguably the best part of Scotland. I was lucky to be in the busiest and most bustling part of the country, while still in such close proximity to the beautiful highlands that would put our tourism ads to shame!

My time in Glasgow was highlighted by the many friendly faces that were proud to welcome the new kids to their city, the endless pints at the local pubs and the fascination with men in kilts! Walking around the city centre, you were bound to see some funny and interesting sights, something I soon took in my stride and can laugh about now. I am grateful for all the opportunities we had to travel wherever we wanted, with just a quick plane trip taking us to the furthest corners of Europe, or a scenic train ride to explore the expanse of the UK.

While not forgetting the purpose of my trip, studying at the University of Strathclyde with a great mix of local and international students while also consulting with some fast-growing local companies gave me opportunities and experiences that I would never replicate anywhere but Glasgow!

As the Glaswegian’s like to say, the people make Glasgow!!

Highlands, Bagpipes and Everything Scottish

Lateisha, A. Bachelor of Behavioural Science (Psychology)/Bachelor of Justice

University of Glasgow (Semester 2, 2016)

Being able to go abroad and study for a semester in Glasgow, Scotland, has given me the opportunity to learn much more about myself and the world than I thought possible. I would (and plan to) do it all again as it was one of the best experiences and recommend it to everyone that gets the chance. Though being honest it wasn’t all smooth sailing, there were some hiccups along the way, but that was all part of the experience!

My first day on campus

The first problem I encountered was that I missed the registration for events during O-week and fresher week meaning I couldn’t go. This made meeting people and making friends a little tricky as these events were where the majority of people met each other and made friends. The next issue I had was with

November Snow!

my units which was stressful. The units I had initially planned were cancelled and not run during the semester I was there so I had to find new ones last minute. Through the help of the staff at both QUT and UofG I was able to quickly find alternative units. The final challenge I experienced was the weather. The weather in Glasgow is very, very different from Brisbane. It was cold dark and damp for the majority of the time I was there, so after growing up on the Sunshine Coast and coming from Brisbane it took some time before I adjusted and accepted that seeing the sun only happened on rare occasions. Though it did snow one night in November which I was very lucky to witness as it was quite early for snow!

 

I lived in university accommodation, which was dorm style living. I had four other roommates, we each had our own rooms with communal living spaces. The hall was about a 15 minute walk away from campus through Kelvin Grove Park, and around a half hour walk from the city centre. The lectures I had were quite similar in style to those at QUT, however the tutorials and lectorials were generally smaller in size and felt more like large discussions, which I found interesting as that isn’t really something I’ve come across at QUT. The campus itself was absolutely stunning! The architecture of the buildings was amazing, it looked like something plucked straight from the past or out of a movie. I thought parts of the campus looked like something from Harry Potter which to be honest was part of the reason why I chose Glasgow!

Going on exchange allowed me to be 100% independent, which is something I haven’t experienced fully. It was a little daunting to begin with in the sense that I didn’t really have a family member or a friend who I could rely on, it was all up to me. After a while though I got used to it and really enjoyed having to be independent. Exchange in Glasgow also allowed me to travel around Europe and the UK, which is something I’d been wanting to do for a long time. I travelled Europe before my semester began with a tour company, and then towards the end of and after the semester I travelled by myself around the UK, which is something I would never of had the confidence to do without exchange. (I would add some snapshots but I couldn’t choose only a few).

Exchange has enabled me to find myself as a person in a time when I really needed to, as cliché as it sounds. My self-confidence has grown, I’m able to step outside of my comfort zone and challenge myself, I was able to immerse myself in a culture similar yet also quite different to my own and I made some really good friends.

There’s no bad weather, just bad clothes

Thomas, M., Bachelor of Business and Law
University of Glasgow (Semester 1 & 2, 2016)

Study:
The standard and method of study is very similar to QUT. The one big difference however is that most lectures are not recorded. Otherwise the study experience is just like QUT, in that there is a mix of tutorials, seminars, and lectures and there are similar expectations placed on students.

Hillhead campus in November taken from Argyle St

Campus:
The UoG (University of Glasgow) campus at Hillhead is as stunning as the pictures show. Not only is it beautiful but there are plenty of amenities including a gym, two student union complexes, numerous cafes, libraries, and study areas.

Accommodation:
In my first semester I stayed at Firhill student accommodation. Firhill, like Murano, is a long way from campus and is unfortunately not in a vibrant part of the city. It does however offer well-appointed accommodation with (tiny) ensuites however it is quite a distance from West End and campus which becomes annoying especially when the Glasgow weather sets in.

During my second semester I stayed in Kelvinhaugh student accommodation. This is a much better option, although not as modern and without personal bathrooms. Kelvinhaugh is ideally located 10 minutes walk from campus in the suburb of Finneston. Kelvinhaugh Street Student accommodation is surrounded by cafes, bars and Kelvingrove Park, and is a short walk from the city and Byres Road in the West End.

The other accommodation option to consider is Student Apartments. They have the best location as they are located on campus in the heart of West End. However it is highly sought after so you may need get accepted. That being said, everyone I knew that had stayed there loved it.

Costs:
On the whole I found Glasgow to be cheaper than Brisbane, particularly in regards to food (groceries and eating out). I set myself a strict budget of 40 pounds per week (roughly $80 AUD), but this meant that I could travel around Europe on my weekends.

Camping on the Isle of Skye (taken in March): wouldn’t recommend in Winter/Autumn

Travel:
There is plenty to see around Scotland and there are a number of tours set up specifically for exchange students. These are great as an easy way to see the country however it can be better to do some things on your own and at your own pace. If you are old enough renting a car is one of the best ways to see the highlands.

The downside about Glasgow was that its airport is relatively small so there wasn’t a lot of flights going in and out to mainland Europe or the rest of the UK. On the upside there is a bus that travels to the Stansted airport (just outside London) which is super cheap, 5-10 pounds. Added bonus there are heaps of cheap flights to Europe from Stansted airport.
Top Tips:

  • If you can only go for one semester, my recommendation would go in Semester 2 (January – June) more time to travel, plus you get to experience what winter is actually like.
  • Definitely attend all the exchange and introduction events they are a great way to meet people
  • Join clubs and societies, get involved, its a great way to increase your chances of meeting Scottish students
  • See as much of Scotland as possible don’t be put off by the weather (“There is no bad weather, only bad clothes)

I cannot recommend Glasgow enough and if you go you are guaranteed to have a great time!

Experience vibrant city culture and historic architecture in beautiful Scotland

University of Glasgow

Location: The West End, Glasgow, Scotland

Why here?: Ranked in the top 1% of world’s universities, culture, music, entertainment, travel.

The University of Glasgow was founded in 1451 and is ranked in the top 1% of the world’s universities. Scotland offers a world-renowned education system – there are more world-class universities per head of population than anywhere else in the world! The University of Glasgow’s campus is filled with incredible historic architecture, centred on the landmark neo-Gothic Main Building. You can choose from a variety of different study areas, working alongside other British and International students in lectures, practical workshops and tutorials. The International Office offers support and guidance throughout your exchange, and can help out with finding accommodation for your semester (or two!) abroad.

Glasgow loves its music scene, hosting all the artists you want to hear. Located in The West End, the university is perfectly situated if you love boutique coffee places, bars and shops. The area holds several festivals throughout the year, including an International Comedy Festival. Being a student you might be looking for some cheaper entertainment, and Glasgow has you covered. There are plenty of museums, galleries and parks to explore in the area, free of charge. After hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2014, Glasgow is also set with state-of-the-art sporting facilities.

With Glasgow as a base, you’re in an ideal location for exploring the breathtaking scenery and spectacular castles of Scotland. If you’re looking to get out Glasgow for a weekend, Edinburgh is about a 1 hour drive, and the English border only 2 hours away. You can even fly to London in only 4 hours! You can also explore national parks and the Clyde Coast just outside of the city.

Photos from University of Glasgow Facebook page.

My Glasgow Highlights and Advice

Ashleigh: University of Glasgow, Semester 1, 2016

There are so many things I should put in this section, but my top five highlights (in no particular order) would be going to a beach and hot spa in Reykjavik, Iceland in the middle of Winter, the torchlight procession at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay, New Year’s Eve from Westminster Bridge, spending my birthday looking over Barcelona and taking a sunset cruise in Santorini!

Looking over Barcelona on my Birthday

Looking over Barcelona on my Birthday

Sunset Cruise in Santorini

Sunset Cruise in Santorini

Tips and Advice

Firstly, budget more than you estimate you’ll need as a contingency and have some Australian currency spare in case your wallet goes missing or you need more changed over quickly. Then, be flexible when you travel so you can spend as little as possible while still getting the most out of it. Most importantly, no matter where you go or how much travel you do, don’t get stuck with people you find from back home. Go out, get involved in the culture and meet people from everywhere! This is a piece of advice I was given on my flight over and something which I will always take with me because if you stick with the same people, you’ll probably keep doing the same thing and won’t really experience the culture as much as you could.

New Years Eve in London

New Years Eve in London

Life at the University of Glasgow

Ashleigh: University of Glasgow, Scotland – Semester 1, 2016

I went on exchange to Glasgow for two semesters. While overseas for eleven months I travelled and learned a lot about different cultures, different ways of teaching and, most importantly, I learned a lot about myself as a person.

Scotland/United Kingdom is a great place to go as you have a very similar cultural background, but you’re close to so many different countries which have different lifestyles and are just incredible to see! Cost-wise, travel itself was pretty cheap once I arrived. As long as you’re flexible with dates and times and can get away with just cabin baggage and you’re willing to stay in hostels, you can have a weekend away for no more than $150! Of the eleven months I was away, I spent about three of those travelling and I still wish I saw more.

The cost of living wasn’t too bad in my opinion, but I still live with my parents so I don’t have much to compare it to. Some leisure activities (for example, movies) can be more expensive, but it’s generally around the same pricing as back home.

Part of the beautiful university campus

Part of the beautiful university campus

The view from campus

The view from campus

I stayed in halls that were about a 45-minute walk from the university campus, but my main reason for choosing it was because they were catered and we received two meals a day. The halls were nothing fancy, but I got one of the largest rooms which was great, and I had my own bathroom. The campus, on the other hand, was amazing. The main building is from the 1800s and on top of probably the only hill in Glasgow so you got a view of most of the city from there.

There were more food courts than at QUT (including a cafeteria in the library!) and they all had snacks, sandwiches and drinks at the least. Then there were two student unions which ran a lot of events and had bars and a nightclub, so there was always something happening if you got sick of studying.

The timetables were slightly different, with up to three lectures a week and a tutorial every second week. But the tutorials were much smaller, meaning that it felt more like a discussion rather than a lesson and I much preferred that.

We had snow one weekend!

We had snow one weekend!

My room in Glasgow

My room in Glasgow