Leave your diet at home!

Claudia, R. Bachelor of Business/Law
Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi, Italy (Semester 1, 2018)

A semester exchange was something I always wanted to pursue, but it was far too easy in my busy Law/Business double degree to postpone any action. After four years of pushing it aside, I finally took the plunge and applied for the Semester 1 2018 intake. I remember being incredibly set on going to Bocconi in Milan, Italy. I am half Italian and have only visited as a child, and my family’s hometown is roughly one hour north of Milan! I wanted to take this chance to get in touch with my heritage, my family and identity, and learn Italian once and for all (my dad never taught me). Getting accepted into my program was devastatingly exciting – I was both bouncing off the walls and on the verge of a mental breakdown.

Arco Della Pace

I stayed at Residenza Arcobaleno, the cheapest of Bocconi’s student accommodation options and composed of roughly 95% other exchange students. Arco was 15 minutes by tram to Bocconi, and about 30 minutes to the centre and the beautiful Duomo. I had friends that stayed at Residenza Isonzo which could’ve been a good option, which was a 5 minute walk to Bocconi and an easy 15 minute walk into the centre. I remember choosing Arco because I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet other exchange students who were in the same boat – and I wasn’t wrong! The people at Arco were all lovely, however, I found the environment was always very rowdy and social (not necessarily a bad thing but not suited for an introvert like me!). It also wasn’t the best environment for someone wanting to befriend Italian students and practice your language-other-than-English skills. In hindsight and based off my personal needs, I would’ve taken the extra time and searched for an apartment rental or student accommodation closer to Bocconi.

Duomo di Milano

Bocconi has a top business school equipped with amazing professors and learning opportunities. Class registration was pretty straight-forward, I found that I had to have lots of back-up options just in case units filled out quickly. I had to take 5 units to achieve a full-time study load, and they were all conducted in a lectorial format. I definitely found a lot of striking differences with Australian university – for example, absolutely NO guidance or task sheet/CRA for any assessment! Exams were always weighted heavily, with mine ranging from 70%-100% of the unit mark. This was initially quite daunting for me as I am used to essay writing and no more than 60% exams, however it was super manageable provided I stayed on top of my readings. The Bocconi campus is in downtown Milan and honestly isn’t the most stunning architecture you’ll see in your life – but that’s what the Milan Duomo is for.

Glass Ceiling of Piazza Duomo

My hot tips to anyone thinking of going on exchange to Bocconi, Milan or Italy are as follows:

  1. Prepare to balance your work, life and sleep – Bocconi’s pass/fail mark is 18/30 (60%) so you definitely need to set aside some study time in your busy social schedules.
  2. Plan your travel – Milan and Italy are in the centre of Europe so an international day trip or weekend holiday is absolutely not out of the question, and flights are usually cheaper than trains.
  3. Leave your diet at home – you absolutely can’t let yourself turn down any pizza, pasta or aperitivo opportunities!

Exchange is something I wish I could do multiple times over, and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone considering it or seeking a little excitement in their lives. I’ve made life-long friends and unforgettable memories, and feel assured knowing that I can call a place on the other side of the world my home.

Oh Canada! University of Guelph

Denise, N. Bachelor of Biomedical Science
University of Guelph, Canada. (Semester 2, 2017)

Toronto

In 2017 Semester 2, I had the privilege of going on a study exchange to UoG, Canada. This experience involved school, travel, friends and fun. Upon arrival at the campus, one of the things that stood out was how enormous the campus was compared to QUT’s Gardens Point. The campus spread out across a large part of the city. Guelph itself was not as developed as Brisbane, it is a small city outside Toronto. Part of what contributed to the size of the campus were the student residencies in all 4 corners of the university. I resided in the East houses and shared a suite with 11 other students. We had 3 toilets, 2 showers and 1 kitchen.

Academically, there were more differences than similarities between UoG and QUT. Firstly, at UoG, there was very little flexibility for students to organise their timetables due to pre-set class hours. Some classes were as early as 7am. Lecture recording was not common, only one quarter of my classes had recordings. Lecturers were addressed formally as Professors and the longest lecture I had was an hour and thirty minutes. The class periods were shorter but more frequent throughout the week, about 3 times.

Living in south-east Ontario made it easier for me to travel to numerous places including Niagara Falls, Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec City and Montreal as well as crossing over to the USA via bus. The cost of living in Canada was higher than that in Brisbane. This was mainly because of the tax and tips to be added to the advertised prices for goods and services. It took me a while to assimilate to this.

In terms of cultural shock, I didn’t experience it until I traveled to the Province of Quebec where majority of people speak French. Visiting Quebec was one of my highlights because it was very different; being surrounded by people speaking in a different language, viewing public signs mostly in French. I remember when I first arrived in Quebec City and was trying to get a bus ticket, the first 3 strangers I spoke to did not understand English.

Homecoming game

Some other highlights from my trip include experiencing the beautiful Fall colours at Montmorency Falls, experiencing snow for the very first time and making a snow angel. I was also able to visit NYC, one of my favourite places in the world. Time Square was literally the centre of the universe.

To anyone thinking of going on exchange, I strongly encourage you to do it. Through experiencing the new school environment, traveling and new friendships, I have learnt more about myself, my values and my goals. Exchange taught me that I know very little and I have a lot to learn. It was without a doubt a learning experience. Advice I would give to future students would be to live off campus, as much as living on campus is an experience in itself, there’s more independence living off campus. Keep in touch with family and avoid making friends from the same country which will be easier, but you won’t really benefit out of it in the long run. People from other places have unique experiences that you can learn from and international connections are valuable, especially today.

The American College Experience

Bridgette V., Bachelor of Journalism / Law (Honours)
San Jose State University, United States (Semester 2, 2017)

Host University

Life on campus at San Jose State University (SJSU) was a fantastic experience. While the on-campus accommodation was very expensive, like anything in Silicon Valley, the student apartments were very well arranged and provided a great atmosphere to meet fellow exchange and domestic students. The resident facilities gave us lots of opportunities to meet new people and attend events, especially at the start of semester.

SJSU provided a great American college experience. During my time on exchange, I got to attend many sporting events, pep-rallies and tailgates and other school based events which allowed me to get involved in the SJSU spirit. As I don’t live on campus at home, it was great to see how many opportunities there were to become involved.

Academics at San Jose were very different to that back at home. We had at least one piece of assessment every week throughout my exchange. However, each piece of assessment was not weighed as heavily as they are at QUT. For instance, for one subject, we had five quizzes throughout the course of the semester, each worth 10-15%. While it was frustrating at times having constant assessment, it helped me to stay on top of the content and reduced the stress at the end of semester. The mid-terms and finals at SJSU also only assessed parts of the course we had learnt since the last piece of assessment. This lack of cumulative assessment made it easier to revise and prepare.

Host Country

The lifestyle in America was very similar to that in Australia. While the stereotype typically depicts Americans as less friendly than their Canadian neighbours, I didn’t find this to be true. They were always willing to go out of their way to help you and to show you around. Everyone was very hospitable and welcoming. The only main difference was tipping and the exclusion of tax in the advertised prices.

Highlights of exchange

I thoroughly enjoyed my time on exchange and would recommend study abroad as something everyone should undertake during their degree. It is a fantastic way to meet new people and explore new places while also gaining credit towards your degree. My main highlight was meeting and spending time with all the new people I met. While San Jose was a great place to explore, it was the people that I met along the way that definitely made my trip. The things we did, places we saw and things we experienced will be memories I cherish forever.

Things I didn’t expect

I was surprised by the number of international students I became friends with. Initially, I assumed I would become friends with mainly American students. However, understandably, they spend a lot of time studying and working, as I would do back at home. The international students on the other hand were all there with similar goals and attitudes. As such, we were all keen to explore and try new things and so we often grouped together to adventure around the place.

Tips and advice

My main tip would be to enter exchange with an open mind. Being open to new experiences allows you to do things and meet people you would never have expected to. Don’t be afraid to try new things and be ready to go with the flow. Often exchange is a waiting game, so be patient and be assured that it will all work out in the end.

Ciao Italy!

Andrew P., Master of Business Process Management
Politecnico Di Milano, Italy (Semester 1, 2016,)

Host University

I went on exchange at Politecnico di Milano (Polimi) in Semester 1, 2016 at the Leonardo campus. It is a widely respected university in Europe with a rich history in engineering.

Note in Europe, their semesters are reversed which means our 1st semester is their 2nd. Polimi semesters start around 3 weeks after the QUT equivalent so you might (will) miss the first few weeks of your next semester when you return.

Most units will consist of two 2hr lectures and one final exam during the exam period. You get 2 attempts to pass the exam. This all-or-nothing final examination approach threw me off compared to how it’s done in QUT so you’ll need to self-manage your own studies from day one (my lectures were not recorded). If you are going in your first semester (QUT), try extending your stay to include their September exam session which will allow you to have 2 extra attempts to pass the exam as a precaution.

I found an apartment before arriving using a website called Uniplaces. They provide an intermediary in case you find the apartment not to your liking. I paid for a single room in a 2-bedroom apartment which cost me 500euro per month. This is average price you should expect to pay. Luckily, I’ve had no problems with my accommodation (and I’ve heard stories).

Host Country

I enjoyed my time in Italy and you can survive speaking only English but I would definitely recommend learning Italian before and during exchange. It definitely makes the experience so much more rewarding. I had a lot of fun interacting with my fellow international students via Polimi’s free language classes.

Milan is an expensive city to live in, compared to Brisbane. Try and buy whatever you need at the street markets scattered throughout the city.

Highlights

  • I’m a football fan and it was great to watch (and attend) quality games within normal hours!
  • The sun doesn’t set until 9pm which allows you to make the most of the day. It’s definitely something I immediately miss upon returning.
  • Joining the ERASMUS group and making new friends. They do plenty of trips and social events. Great fun!
  • Italians have a tradition called Aperitivo. By purchasing a beverage, you have full access to the buffet they set out in the afternoon. It’s a social and financial lifeline for students!

Tips

Before Leaving

  • If you’re planning on taking a credit card (recommended) try getting one that gives you complementary travel insurance if you use the card to pay for your flights or accommodation. I knew a few students who went travelling after the study period.
  • Don’t forget your stationary
  • Pack light, you’ll be bringing back more than you can imagine.
  • A laptop is essential.
  • Try to get as many transfer units as possible. There may be circumstances in which you won’t be able to do some of the units that you applied for. Be prepared to have overlapping units.
  • I used a Citibank Plus account for cash withdrawals and a 28 Degrees account for credit card purchases and highly recommend both.

During Exchange

  • Apply for an ATM Transport Card. Renew every month for 22euro at the Metro Stations.
  • I signed on to Vodafone prepaid plan as it also allows cheap data roaming in other countries (5euro per day). The other big telecoms Wind and TIM do not provide this.
  • Applying for a Permesso di Sogiorno (Permit to stay) is a very daunting experience. I actually got my card a couple of weeks before I was set to leave!

Calling Copenhagen Home

Vicky Z., Bachelor of Creative Industries
Danish School of Media & Journalism (Semester 2, 2017)

The Danish School of Media & Journalism (DMJX) is seriously a great school, and SO different from QUT. It’s academically intense and the students are older (23-30, since most have already completed a past degree in design) and are very talented and serious, yet the classroom had a relaxed and family-like vibe. The school is really hard to get into and its students are sought-after in the design industry!

 

I had class Monday to Friday, from 9am to about 1pm, although in busier times we’d all stay until 4pm or even 10pm, working. The class had 23 students, and we were in the same room every day. The best parts were that we each had a desk and Mac (like a studio!), and the canteen was amazing and affordable.

Studio Classroom

We would have the same teacher for 2-6 weeks, and guest lectures/presentations/briefs from small and large companies all the time. We had Volvo, DR (Denmark’s largest TV Radio Media company like the ABC), Bennybox (an animation company in Copenhagen), and many more. A lot of time was self-directed learning and working on assignments, with lectures being casual.

We only worked on one assignment at a time, which I really liked. At the end of each task, there was no criteria sheet or marking. Instead, we’d give a short presentation to the class, and receive feedback from the teacher, guest, and each other. It was inspiring and I learned a lot from seeing other students’ work.

Accommodation

I applied for housing through DMJX, and they offered me a room at Hjortespringkollegiet in Herlev. It was a 30 minute bike ride from school and about an hour from the city centre, which was a little far, but bearable. My room was huge for a dorm’s standards, I had my own bathroom and balcony, and shared a clean, large kitchen with 10 others. Around 1 in 12 students are exchange students; the rest are Danish. I recommend living here — I really loved it and made many friends. The dorm bar was open once or twice a week; it’s easy to meet people and make friends there.

 

Shared Kitchen

Host Country

Denmark is such a wonderful country. The cost of living is similar or a little higher than Brisbane. Public transport and eating out are expensive, but if you ride your bike and cook more at home, it’s not too bad. Copenhagen is hip and I loved the fashion, jewellery, art, and Scandinavian style.

Danish people are really easy to get along with. They’re really friendly, although some may warm up to you slowly. And there are almost no language barriers as they are all very good at English (even grannies speak fluently).

Getting Along with my Danish Friends

Some differences I noticed were that when people get off the bus, they don’t say ‘thank you’, and paying at supermarkets is a very fast, impersonal, brisk process. No small talk. They scan your items ridiculously fast, you kind of just get out as soon as possible. But in smaller shops and boutiques, they’re super friendly.

On almost every street you will find a plant shop (flowers, succulents and whatnot), a pay-by-weight candy store, a hairdresser, kebab store, and bakery!

Highlights of exchange

Loving Denmark

Meeting so many people was amazing, and seeing so many cities was wonderful. I loved that I could call Copenhagen my home for five months, and become familiar with all the stores, brands, suburbs, streets, and the city as a whole.

Things you didn’t expect

Everyone’s naked in the communal showers and change rooms.

When I went on the school camp, and to a public swimming pool, the girls’ showers had no cubicles! It was just one big room with shower heads in a row. At first I was very reluctant, but then I decided to just suck it up and embrace the Danish way of life. I highly recommend this experience. It’s only awkward if you make it awkward.

Another thing I didn’t expect was how depressing and energy-sucking the cold darkness can be. In January, the sun rose at 8.30 and set at 4pm. The short, cold days and lack of sunshine made me feel tired and a lot drearier than in summer. I wish I could’ve been more positive and taken initiative to do fun things and socialised and continued exploring the city, but honestly I just wanted to crawl into a hole and lie there most days. In Summertime the sun sets at 9pm though, and it’s the bomb dot com.

Tips & Advice for Future Students

  • You must get a bike. It’s the easiest, cheapest, funnest way to get around. Make sure you lock it every time though. Biking around the city and surrounding suburbs is super easy and so beautiful, especially during summer.
  • If you try to learn Danish, make sure you practice speaking early on! Danes love helping and correcting you and teaching you phrases.
  • Get a Citibank no fee debit card. The exchange rate is good and there are no fees. I used this card for all my travels and time in Denmark.
  • Try the ‘ristet pølse med det hele’ from the hotdog stand behind the Vesterbro train station. It’s a hotdog with mustard, ketchup, remoulade, raw onions, fried crispy onions and pickles.
  • Zaggi’s cafe near Nørreport does 15kr (3 aud) coffees and cakes!
  • Many of the museums and galleries are free on certain days of the week, be sure to visit them because they are all very cool! Especially the National Gallery of Denmark.
  • Try to visit Dyrehaven — this park used to be the royal hunting grounds and now it’s where adorable deer roam free!
  • Not to be mixed up with the park, Cafe Dyrehaven does excellent smørrebrød for ~$10 aud each. The chicken one and potato one are nice.
  • If you visit Malmo (the Swedish city across the bridge from Copenhagen), try to take a daytrip to Lund as well. It’s a small, cute town.
  • Shop at Flying Tiger and Søstrene Grene for cute, cheap home wares when you first move in. They’re a bit like kmart.
  • Do lots of outdoor stuff in summer! Fælledparken (park), Superkilen (park), the lakes, Dyrehaven, paddleboating, the beach, botanic gardens, FLEAMARKETS, Kongens Have (the King’s Park)… there is so much to do and it is so so so beautiful.
  • Fall in love with Copenhagen and go back one day :’)

Copenhagen; one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world!

Madeline W., Bachelor of Business / Bachelor of Media and Communication
Copenhagen Business School, Denmark (Semester 2, 2018)

Hej!

My name is Maddy and I recently completed a semester abroad at Copenhagen Business School (CBS) in Denmark.

Copenhagen Business School

CBS offers an extremely good Exchange Program. The semester starts off with a two week introductory program offering a wide range of different activities to get you to know the city and other exchange students including Danish classes, boat rides on the canals, bowling, buddy dinners, walking tours and much more! Throughout the semester the CBS Exchange Team offers different attraction discounts and group travel opportunities that you can join as well. I would definitely recommend partaking in the Denmark tour, as this is a great way to see the country outside of the capital city.

Rather than having one or two campuses like QUT and other universities in Australia, in Denmark universities have singular buildings plotted all over the city. They are all situated close to each other and to the accommodation offered, but it is definitely sensible to hire or buy a bike. Plus every Thursday evening in the semester, CBS would shut down the main campus building and bring in a DJ to turn the block into a massive university nightclub!

The academics at CBS compared to QUT are quite different. In Copenhagen, subjects can either be delivered in intensive mode, only lasting for half a semester, or be spread out to cover the whole semester.  Exams are all 4 hours long no matter what subject, but you get to take in all the food and drinks you want in order to keep your brain going. Also, each unit usually only consists of one piece of assessment worth 100% of your grade! So you can either think of this as stressful, or from my point of view as an exchange student, a great opportunity to really explore and get to know Denmark before worrying about studying!

Living in Denmark

The cost of living in Denmark is one of the highest globally. To help out exchange students, CBS offers eight student accommodation facilities most located in the suburb of Frederiksberg. I would definitely suggest trying to get into one of these buildings, as they can be cheaper than renting on your own. Plus I found it as the best way to make friends through having communal dinners and movie nights to really embrace what the Danish call “hygge” – meaning cozy contentment.

And you might be thinking – but they speak Danish? Majority of classes are taught in English and you will hardly ever meet a person in Denmark that is not as fluent in English as you are.

Prior to exchange I really disliked the idea of cycling, but once arriving in Copenhagen I soon learnt owning a bike is essential. Copenhagen has been consistently ranked alongside Amsterdam as the most bike friendly cities in the world. The city is extremely flat making the ride quite bearable, and with the bike lanes located in between the parking spots and the pedestrian footpaths, it is very safe. Plus given the rent is so high, this is a way to save your kroners (Danish money) by not constantly buying public transport tickets!

Travel

One of the highlights of my exchange was the freedom and ability to travel so easily before and after the semester and between my classes. By the end of my trip I totalled 65 European cities spanning 22 different countries! However the best thing about exchange was simply the ability to live in a different city for an extended period of time, to really get to know it as your second home. Despite the often dreary weather, I certainly got to learn why Danish people are consistently ranked happiest in the world, and why Lonely Planet ranked Copenhagen as the “Best in Travel 2019”.

My advice to future students considering going on exchange is just do it. Thinking about being away from your friends and family for a 6-month or 12-month period may seem like a mental and emotional challenge, however, I can assure you it will be one of the best life decisions you ever make. Exchange is a very different experience to just travelling, as you can gain a rich not just surface level understanding of another culture through meeting the native people, engaging in their traditions and exploring corners of the city unknown to tourists.

Never a Dull Moment: A Semester Abroad

Joseph W., Bachelor of Information Technology
TU Darmstadt, Germany (Semester 2, 2016)

Figure 1: Autumn sunset in Darmstadt – from campus main entrance

It all started one day when I was at home thinking about how cool it would be to go overseas to Europe. I thought how cool it would be see and experience the Alps, European cultures, the different languages and, well, whatever else! I thought, “What the heck? I’m going to apply for exchange”, and so I did!

I had some exchange student friends and had often seen the stalls set up for Study Abroad but had always thought “Nah, that’s not me”. I hadn’t travelled much. I had been overseas when I was very young and had more recently travelled for two weeks with my family in Canada and so I was by no means a seasoned traveller. I contemplated the idea of going on exchange for about three weeks and so I knew I could and yet I just keep putting the idea to the back of my head until it could stay there no longer.

Fast forwarding six months later to my arrival in Darmstadt, Germany. The first month was at times challenging as there were so much to do to become registered in the TU Darmstadt and in Germany as well as making financial arrangements. During this time, the TUD exchange team were taking very good care of us to help us sort out everything we needed to do and were hosting social events and parties for us. With over 200 exchange students from everywhere around the globe and the exchange team to meet, there was never a dull moment.

The university exchange team arranged a two-day trip to a beautiful old town in Germany called Rüdesheim along the river Rhine. After a night’s stay in a hostel, tasting local wines, we woke up bright and early the next morning for a boat ride along the river Rhine viewing the many castles that marked what was once a border separating France and Germany.

Figure 2: Tenerife, Spain – Lookout on the way down a narrow two-way road barely wide enough for one car

Figure 3: Rüdesheim, Germany – Looking out over the town, River Rhine and the vineyards

As the Semester started and I settled down to a relatively stable routine, I went on several short trips around Germany and Europe. Laying almost in the very centre of Europe, Darmstadt is a great place to travel from, especially for me, coming from Australia which is far away from everything. Some highlights would have to include a hike through the foggy Black Forest while trying not to take the wrong track, the Miniature Museum in Hamburg, Mount Teide volcano in Tenerife, Spain and my first experience of a snowfall in the beautiful town of Salzburg!

Finally, after an incredible experience overseas, came time to go home. The Last two months had some challenging moments doing a lot of last minute study, getting ready for the final exams. However, without a doubt, the most challenging part about leaving a semester abroad is saying goodbye to friends that I had spent so much time with and done so many cool things with. But it’s okay. I will be back!

Figure 4: Black Forest, Germany – Fighting through the mist trying not to get too lost!

Figure 5: Auerbach Castle, Germany – Enjoying a sunny day with an evening hike up to the Auerbach Castle

Hej from Sweden!

Jordan S., Bachelor of Engineering
Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden (Semester 2, 2016)

Hej jag heter Jordan Simpson! I undertook an exchange semester at Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg (Gothenburg) Sweden during the second semester of 2016!

Host University

Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg

I found that life on campus at Chalmers is quite different to QUT. A few of the main differences I found was the block scheduling of courses, the really cheap lunches they provide, and the amount of leisure activity rooms. I found the block scheduling of classes to be quite good; it meant not having to deal with class registration and ending up with a shocking timetable.  It even usually allowed for one or two free days a week! Chalmers also offered really cheap and decent quality/sized meals each day for 40kr (which is approx. $6.50). Chalmers also had heaps of buildings that could be used for all sorts of leisure activities (indoor soccer/basketball, rock climbing, even a billiard area!).

Accommodation can be quite hard to come by for the local university students of Gothenburg wishing to move out of their parent’s place. These students have to start queuing to find a place when they are in grade 9 or 10 in high school! However, being an international student, Chalmers and SGS Studentböstader (a student housing company) offers priority 1 when looking for accommodation during your stay in Gothenburg.

From an academics standpoint, Chalmers is very different to QUT. The main difference being that instead of taking 4 courses over a semester, the semester is broken up into two study periods. Each study period lasts 8 weeks, and during this time you take 2 courses. This means that the courses are a lot heavier, but leads to a much easier time during exam block period.

Host Country

City of Gothenburg

The cost of living is almost identical to Australia, only major difference being the alcohol prices in their bottle shops. Getting around in Gothenburg is very easy! The public transport system is phenomenal (well almost anything is compared to my hometown, Mackay).  There are many trams and busses running all the time to get you to where you need to go. If you want to see a bit more of Sweden there are also plenty of top quality trains to take!

I found the culture of Sweden to be quite similar to our own. With one notable difference being people keep to themselves at first so you have to really initiate conversation. But once you start to get them talking they are just as friendly and inviting as we are! If you are also wondering how the language barrier is, I can assure you that it is almost non-existent. Almost every Swedish person I met was able to speak English perfectly and switched to it as soon as they knew you only spoke English!

One of the cool things I really enjoyed about my time in Sweden was actually being able to experience the four seasons of the year! My favourite time of the year was Autumn as I found it cool to see everything go orange, and actually see the physical change from Summer.

Highlights/Tips

It’s hard to choose highlights from my exchange as the whole experience has been absolutely fantastic.  One of the many highlights was being able to meet so many people from different countries.  I got to experience bits and pieces of their cultures and share some from mine, while also learning about the Swedish culture with them.  However, one of my favourite times during this exchange was when my mates and I went for a weekend in Stockholm before going on a 3-day cruise to Talin, Estonia.

Northern lights in Lapland

The best tip I can give is get involved with CIRC (Chalmers’ International Student Society), and make sure to go to all of their events during the first few weeks so you can meet heaps of people that eventually make a good group of friends! Also, the one event I highly recommend (which I personally didn’t get to go to but all of my friends did) is the Lapland trip! During this you travel to the far north of Sweden and get to experience ridiculously cold temperatures, go dog sledging, and see the Northern Lights!

 

The Realities of Studying in Gothenburg

Lydia W., Bachelor of Business / Bachelor of Laws (Honours)
University of Gothenburg, Sweden (Semester 2, 2017)

My time in Gothenburg can be summed up in one word: memorable. The city of Gothenburg is an incredible city, and my little dorm room will always be considered my second home. For any of you who are considering journeying to the wonderful land of Sweden, or the city of Gothenburg, here are some of the things you may wish to know.

Gothenburg’s famous Hagabullen (cinnamon bun)

Studying at the University of Gothenburg

The University of Gothenburg allowed me to experience a completely different style and atmosphere towards learning. The different faculties of the university are spread out around the city of Gothenburg and I was lucky enough to study in several of them, including Handelshögskolan, the School of Business, Economics and Law. All of the buildings are easily accessible by bus, tram or by bike. In regard to learning, Gothenburg was very different to QUT. My subjects included 3 hours lectures and lecture information is not as easily accessible. More emphasis is placed on group work and discussion in lectures. Also, Gothenburg students are lucky enough to have 5 hour exams where food and drink is allowed.

University of Gothenburg buildings

University of Gothenburg buildings

Student Living in Gothenburg

During my time at Gothenburg, I lived in student housing at Helmutsrogatan which provided me with my own dorm room that included both a kitchen and bathroom that were furnished with basic essentials. Also, right next to my housing was a 7-Eleven which was my saviour every day and night. I was a 5 minute tram ride from the centre but could also walk if I felt like it. I was also a 5 minute walk from the main student shared housing area of Olofshöjd which is convenient as most of your friends will probably be living there. For those of you who are sporting fans, my housing was also a 5 minute tram ride from the Ice Hockey stadium, Liseberg Amusement Park and the football stadium.

My student housing

My student housing

The City of Gothenburg

I loved living in Gothenburg and it will always hold a special place in my heart. The city itself is quite small and you can easily walk to most places. Also, Gothenburg has an advanced and easy tram and bus system which makes it so easy to travel around the city. The reason I mention transport is that Gothenburg has so much to offer. You can catch the tram to archipelagos; you can visit the Liseberg Amusement Park; you can discover the many museums and galleries all over the city; you can go to the opera, concerts and trivia nights; you can go hiking up a mountain; or you can even do my personal favourite and go see the Frölunda Indians play ice hockey! There is always something going on in Gothenburg so there are plenty of chances to get out and enjoy yourself!

Highlights

Obviously, living in a different country was a highlight in itself for me. Not only did I develop more confidence in myself and my abilities, but I had the opportunity to discover a completely new culture. I spent most of my time on exchange travelling all over Europe to countries I did not ever think I would explore. My absolute favourite thing about exchange was meeting people from all over the world; I met people from America, Canada, Sudan, Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Portugal, Spain, Greece, China, Japan, India, Russia, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Italy, Slovakia… and this isn’t even every country! Also, I was very excited to have my photo taken for the University of Gothenburg magazine; I have no idea what the blurb meant in Swedish, but it definitely was a highlight knowing random Swedish students would see a little Aussie!

Things I Didn’t Expect

As with any experience in life, there are things that you entirely do not expect to happen to you. I did not expect how difficult it would be to be to motivate myself to study whilst exploring another country. I did not expect how much time I would actually spend alone. I did not expect how little interaction I would have with Swedish people, nor did I expect how much interaction I would have with other exchange students.

My Tips and Advice

  • Have an idea of your priorities for exchange and tailor the subjects you choose to that. If your priority is to travel and explore as much as you can (as I did), I recommend doing 2-3 subjects maximum!!
  • Just because you’re on exchange does not mean less is expected of you in regard to assessment – find a balance early on where you can have fun but still pass your subjects!
  • If you have the chance to go to Munich for Oktoberfest, do it!!

Just remember, there will be aspects of your exchange that you hate or that you become really stressed about; get over them! Don’t let them ruin your time on exchange because it will be over too soon!

 

 

 

Snowball fights and study at Simon Fraser University

Mikaela H
Bachelor of Business (Marketing) / Bachelor of Creative Industries (Fashion Communication)
Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada

 

In terms of content studied I found SFU’s business units to be on a similar level to QUT’s. However, there were some differences in assessments, grading and how things were taught. For SFU’s business units they are graded on a grading curve, where you marks are determined by how everyone in your class performs too (which can work for or against you). This meant it was quite hard to determine how you were going throughout the semester but worked out for me in the end.

The other thing that was different to QUT for me was class participation marks and the lack of recorded lectures. This meant that class attendance was a must and did mean that I wasn’t able to travel and do as many activities during university as originally planned. Other than this there wasn’t too much of a difference and I really enjoyed studying at SFU.

Well, you just have to get in a snowball fight while in Canada…

Like mentioned earlier my travel was limited due to study but with so many things to do in Vancouver and with Whistler only being 2hrs away I was still able to do a lot of the things I wanted to do. I would however highly recommend having some extra time either before or after study to travel as friends of mine who did not have extra time to travel after study did wish they allowed time to do so. Another tip of mine is take out the extra QUT exchange loan if you feel like you might not have enough money for the trip as it is the worst when you are worried about funds and then are stopping yourself from doing the things you want to be doing.

Overall, I had an amazing exchange, did so many things I’ve never done before like snowboarding as well making some long lasting friendships with people from all over the world as well as Canada.

Snowboarding while on Exchange