Meeting people from all over the world

Having traveled a lot, including living overseas for six months in the past, I didn’t feel culture shock. I had no trouble adjusting at first, or in the first couple of months. My biggest issue was winter! I am a tropics girl through and through I have discovered, and the English winter, while a novelty and first, started to really get me down.

Loch in the Scottish Higlands

Loch in the Scottish Higlands

My favorite parts of the exchange were meeting people from all over the world and travelling with them. If I could pass on one piece of advice it would be don’t stick to other Aussies, get out there and socialise with locals and other exchange students from across the world. Travel on weekends, be organised with your university work so you don’t every have to turn a trip down!

I definitely grew as a person during my stay in Leeds, I discovered more about who I am as an individual, what I like in a city and what I don’t, I fell in love with London and Edinburgh, and learnt to further appreciate my home and Australia. For both academic and social reasons I wish I had done my exchange during undergrad, but I am so glad non-the-less to have had the opportunity and that I finally got to accomplish a life dream.

Grassy courtyard with big windows

 

Scottish Highlands

Scottish Highlands

The grounds of Sugarwell Court were great, a big old building with a grassy courtyard and big windows, especially nice on those one or two days we got snow. We also had a (very) basic common area with a pool table and the occasional movie night organised by the residential staff.

My exchange cost me more than I expected. The UK is an expensive place! It didn’t help that the Australian dollar depreciated a lot while I was on exchange. I found Leeds to have a similar cost of living as Brisbane, my rent was a little higher for what I got but it was worth the convenience of the University organising it. Of course the best bit of an exchange is getting out of the city and exploring the rest of the country, or other countries for that matter! This was by far the most expensive part; I would frequently spend a few hundred pounds on a weekend trip as trains and accommodations are expensive.

I definitely recommend getting a student rail card! It saves you a lot and trains are nicer than buses. I ended up spending over $10,000 in six months not including my flights. I had expected this but it’s still a bit of a strain and definitely worth saving a bit extra to be on the safe side. I didn’t end up opening a bank account, as it is very difficult to do so in the UK if you are only doing one semester, so I had to content with lots of fees on getting money from ATMs.

A few PR complications!

I got a taxi to my accommodation and initially was a little disappointed. It was further from the city centre then I had wanted and my flat, shared with five other girls, had a small kitchen and no living area! This was a bit of a dis-advantage as we had nowhere to sit and chill together and would frequently retreat to our rooms away from each other as that was the only place to relax in comfort. However though a living room would have been nice, I got to know most of my housemates (German, English, Chilean and Australian) well by the end and loved living with them.

I studied mainly marketing subjects (and one PR subject). This was a little disappointing as I chose Leeds Beckett because I was advised it was best for PR by QUT and seemed to have a lot of PR subjects. However once I arrived the Uni told me that only one of my many PR subjects I had originally matched to QUT subjects was actually available that semester. This process could definitely improve, the Leeds Beckett exchange office seemed very overwhelmed all the time. I found the quality of the lecturers and the academic intensity of Masters subjects at Leeds Beckett to be slightly less than that at QUT.

I found the teaching methods difficult to adjust to, the lectures and tutorials seemed far less organised and structured. However the assessment itself was quite challenging and not always directly related to what we had spoken about in class. I did like my one PR subject as we got to work with a real client to develop a communications plan for them, which was exciting.

Leeds Beckett seemed to be very good at organising activities for its exchange students; it also had great campuses, one right in the heart of the city and one in a beautiful suburb that was very English. A few more weekend trips would have been nice. The facilities were great and everyone was friendly.

Exploring London – Endless possibilities

I didn’t really know where I wanted to go on exchange however having completed a short-term exchange to Croatia I thought maybe I should try something a bit different. I have travelled to the UK before but hadn’t explored much beyond its beautiful capital, London. I had always wanted to try living in the UK and I was keen to go to a country that had high academic expectations (I’m studying my masters) so I settled in on the idea of England as my exchange destination. Leeds Beckett was suggested by QUT for Public Relations students, and the choice was made.

London Bridge and The Tower of London

London Bridge and The Tower of London

When I arrived I flew into London. My god I love this city. It is a hive of activity and I can feel the adrenalin pumping through my veins from the pure excitement of walking the streets and exploring its endless possibilities. After a week I got the train to Leeds. It was, as expected, not quite London. However it seemed to have a thriving student population and was a city that had a growing cultural scene