Quustyn Rose Lu

Date: SP2, 2014
Degree Program: Bachelor of Management
Host University: Aston University
Host Country: United Kingdom

Lu 1Why did you choose your host university?

I chose Aston University to participate in my semester exchange because they are ranked among the top 30 universities in the United Kingdom. Assessed on a basis of graduate prospects, teaching and student satisfaction, Aston University is ranked 27th in the UK. Along with this figure the Student Satisfaction Rate is very high too, scoring 89% in the 2013 National Student Survey. Aston University has also featured in the top 10 of all United Kingdom Universities for graduate employability. The last two reasons why I decided to study at Aston University over any other universities offered, is due to 'Student City Living'.

“Birmingham offers cosmopolitan student living with a fantastic range of entertainment, night-life and culture on your doorstep. Drop into one of the UK’s top shopping centres, the Bull Ring, before heading out for theatres or a great night out in the city’s clubbing district, Broad Street” (Aston University 2015).

Lastly the University recently just finished their newly built/renovated campus accommodation, which was placed in the heart of Birmingham making everything very easily assessable and convenient.

What was the university like?

Aston University is extremely modern and updated with the latest technology, resources and materials. The classes were a very modest size, which allowed all students to engage and ask questions throughout the class. All classes I attended had the same 'here to learn' feel about them, which made me feel comfortable and less distracted from students who did not want to be there. The assessments were very clear, concise and easy to understand, though it was also challenging in many areas too. I found myself in positions were I had to go beyond what was asked and from this I discovered and learnt more through different styles of learning. The resources and materials Aston offered helped me study independently and also in group work. The library was available 24/7, which was very helpful for those late night study sessions and last minuet book borrowings too.

Lu 2What did you gain from your exchange experience and has it changed the way you think or altered your approach to life?

This exchange experience changed not only my views, understandings and values of life, but it has altered my approach to it and also has helped myself develop into a better person. Before I went on exchange I was unaware on numerous cultural, global and political issues. I did not understand the real value of friendship, money and dreams until I left Australia. I have not only found who I am/who I want to be, but this experience has built my confidence, ability to tackle challenges, work independently and has reduced a lot of fears I would have had in the past.

What accommodation options were available to you?  How affordable was accommodation and would you recommend the same option to others?

Aston University offered 6 accommodation options: William Murdoch campus, James Watts campus, Harriet Martineau campus, Mary Strurge campus accommodation, Lakeside campus and independent private rental.

I stayed on the James Watts campus, which is the premium accommodation option Aston offers. What determines the premium to standard accommodation options are dependant on the quality, size and location of the dorms. In William Murdoch, James Watt, Harriet Martineau and Mary Sturge residencies, flats either come with five or seven bedrooms. 5 bedroom flats have larger rooms with bigger beds, but are similar in layout.

“Aston Student Village study bedrooms have been designed to provide you with the best possible working conditions: plenty of light, plug sockets and desk space! Aston's iconic university library will most likely be visible from your window, so you won't have to go far to read up on your subject and get the best possible learning experience. Gone are the days of waiting for the shower in the morning, all of our accommodation is now en-suite. Best of all, you will have a regular cleaner who cleans your bathroom, bedroom and kitchen living area, leaving you more time socialising. All rooms in Aston Student Villages have access to high speed internet, some of the best on offer, which is all included as part of your rent” (Aston University 2015).

Lu 3Describe your travel experiences; did you travel locally or to neighbouring countries? 

While studying abroad at Aston University I had the opportunity to travel around Europe throughout the 8 months of staying there. Below is the list of countries and cities I visited:

  • United Kingdom - Birmingham, Manchester, South Hamptom and London
  • France - Paris and Versailles
  • Ireland - Dublin, Killarney, Ennis, Galway, Inis Mor, Derry and Antrim
  • Scotland - Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling
  • Iceland - Reykjavik and Bildudalur & Norway - Oslo
  • Germany - Nüremburg, Goßweinsten, Berlin, Potsdam, Dresden and Munich

Due to the structure and set-up of the exchange program I was able to easily venture out and explore Europe 5-7 days at a time, without it affecting my studies. Aston University gave students the independence and responsibility to monitor and complete their work in their own habits. Subjects were easily accessible online and class timetables were flexible, while also offering 'catch-up' sessions. If I did not go on exchange I would not have visited a majority of these countries and cities. My favourite place I visited is Bildudalur, Iceland. Everything about this town was magical and I had not seen anything like it here in Australia before! I was able to see the Northern Lights every night for 12 nights in a row, which is a very rare occurrence. I was able to witness frozen waterfalls, mountains covers in glaciers, half frozen oceans and overall breath taking sceneries. I highly recommend visiting this natural beauty of a country!

Describe how you adjusted to life in a different country and how you met new people.

The only thing I truly needed to adjust to while in a different country would have to be the weather and food. I left Adelaide on the 14th of January and it was 47.5 degrees and when I landed in Birmingham, UK it was 2 degrees! The coldest I experience while abroad would have had to be in Reykjavik, Iceland where it was -14 degrees. It took some time to adjust to this and also I had to learn quickly how to keep warm. Also the food over in the UK was not as fresh or offered as much variety, as we have in Australia. I found it difficult to do my 'normal' grocery shopping,  therefore I had to adjust to a new diet and eating regime (this resulted in gaining 6kgs).

While abroad it was very easy to met new people and friends, as once arriving on campus Aston University placed all the exchange students together and from there we went through orientation, induction and the welcome process as one group. After this, we all continued to spend time together and go on mini trips around Birmingham. I also made friends with my house mates and other students who lived in the James Watts accommodation building. Everyone was extremely friendly and welcoming, so I felt very comfortable to introduce myself.

Lu 4Can you see any benefits from this exchange to your future career?

Not only can I see the benefits from this exchange, but I believe I am living proof of these benefits. Once returning from the exchange I instantly got a job offer to become a Leisure Travel Expert at STA Travel Flinders Univeristy, due to my extensive travel while I was abroad. I have also stayed in contact with my fellow friends and have visited them since I left Aston University. Lastly, this experience offered a multicultural perspective, as the large multicultural body I engaged with constantly shared their cultures through language and communication approaches, as well as everyday cultural differences. I believe gaining this perspective will benefit my future career, as I am now more understanding, opened and equip to handle multicultural/diverse situations.

What advice would you give to a student who was hesitant or considering joining the exchange program?

I would strongly urge everyone, regardless of what the degree or what year they are in (excluding first) to join the exchange program! It has been the highlight of my entire degree and I feel like I am a better person because of it. Within the short amount of time away, I learnt so much not only academically but personally and culturally. I feel more aware of global and life situations, as well as obtaining a large amount of confidence in myself and being able to live independently.

Top Tips:
My top tip for exchange is to say YES to everything! There was many situations I would not had the opportunity to pursue or be able to do, if I did not say yes. You will be surprised with what you are capable of doing when you step out of your comfort zone. The other top tip is purchase a DECENT camera! This is something you should definitely not skint on, as you will want to capture this experience and these amazing memories forever. 

Areas of study and research

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