||Study Period 2 2013
||Bachelor of Law
||University of Strathclyde
Why did you choose your host university?
I chose to study at the University of Strathclyde for a number of reasons. Firstly I had a strong desire to study in the UK, and in particular Scotland, as I have a lot of family from that area of the world. I was able to visit many of the places my grandparents grew up and lived before migrating to Australia. I also had a close friend from UniSA who had studied at Strathclyde a few years earlier and she strongly recommended the university and Scotland in general as a great place to study. Finally, I conducted my own research about the University and found they offered a great range of subjects, they were centrally located in Glasgow, and they offered great value for money on campus accommodation.
What was the university like?
Strathclyde University was surprisingly similar to university in Australia and very similar to the University of South Australia. Both universities come from very humble beginnings and share the ideal of “useful learning.” The teaching style and assessments were very similar as well. Most of my subjects consisted of two assessment pieces and an exam worth approximately 50%. Lectures for each subject were either twice a week and an hour long, or once a week and two hours long, while tutorials were once a fortnight and only an hour long. The university had a great library with plenty of resources and a large amount of indoor study space, which was particularly useful during the freezing Scottish weather, or when your flatmates were making too much noise in the flat.
What did you gain from your exchange experience and has it changed the way you think or altered your approach to life?
My decision to go on exchange has to be one of the single most important and best decisions of my life. I not only had the time of my life, meeting lots of new friends, exploring much of Europe, and experiencing new cultures, but I believe I have gained a much greater sense of confidence, independence and general global awareness. The experience has really made the world a smaller place for me. I think this comes from making friends from all over the world and exploring much of the places in between. The distances apart simply shrink with insignificance.
What accommodation options were available to you? How affordable was accommodation and would you recommend the same option to others?
The University offers on campus accommodation in a number of different residences, I stayed in Murray Hall which was more like a dormitory hall, with each person receiving their own bedroom, but sharing a bathroom with two other people, a kitchen with five other people, and a common room/lounge room with about twenty people. This was great for meeting people as there would often be a party in the common room. The other residences on campus were divided into flats of between four to 8 people. They were equally as nice, but due to the division of flats it could be harder to meet people but if you are determined it would be an easy barrier to overcome.
Describe your travel experiences; did you travel locally or to neighbouring countries?
I was lucky enough to travel all over Scotland, from the lowlands of Glasgow and Edinburgh, right up to the Highlands and all the way to the Isle of Skye. There was a great little tour company set up by a former student who organised day trips every weekend to places all over Scotland for only 10 pounds, and during the week ran walking tours around Glasgow for only a single pound. This was a great way to start traveling around and meeting new people before you decide to organise your own trips. I also went to Amsterdam and Copenhagen with friends I met at University. I finished my exchange by trekking across Europe by train before returning home. The train system was not only cheap and reliable, but also a great way to see Europe. I was lucky enough to visit Paris, Munich, Budapest, Vienna and Prague. With all the trips I took, both by myself and the ones with my newly made friends, the main idea was minimal planning and just “wing it.” This provided for some of the best memories.
Describe how you adjusted to life in a different country and how you met new people.
Culture Shock wasn’t a big thing for me as the UK isn’t hugely different to Australia, and on top of that I have grown up with a lot of British culture from my family. The biggest difference to hit me was the cold, the utterly freezing cold, with plenty of snow and frozen puddles. Meeting new people seemed like a difficult task, but as there are many other people in the same position as you, you soon meet people very quickly. The best tips I came across for meeting people included getting to know the people you live with, knock on their door, offer them a beer, just get to know them. Even if you don’t turn out to be great friends, they might introduce you to other people. Also get involved with as much as you can, as soon as you can, from university organised trips, to social and sporting clubs, this is the easiest way to make friends. Finally, there is a strong pub culture in the UK, especially in Scotland because it is too cold to do anything outside, so I found a great way to make friends was to sit at the bar, sometimes even alone, and before I knew it I was invited to sit and talk with a whole bunch of locals, some of whom I am still in contact with.
Can you see any benefits from this exchange to your future career?
I believe my exchange experience will play a vital role when I start my career, especially during the job seeking stage. The exchange program will hopefully give me an edge over other job applicants because it is a clear indication of initiative, independence and commitment. It also looks nice on a CV to have a second university listed on your academic references.
What advice would you give to a student who was hesitant or considering joining the exchange program?
My exchange was the best experience I have had during my University years; I would recommend it to anyone who was considering it. You will make some awesome friends, visit some amazing places and experience some interesting cultures, taste some delicious food, and come back a person with knowledge unattainable in a classroom.
“Wing it” If you’re an intelligent, resilient person, plan the bare basics and just go have the time of your life.