Sushmita Prasad

Date: SP5, 2016/17
Degree Program: Bachelor of Business (Logistics and Supply Chain Management)
Host University: Aston Business School
Host Country: United Kingdom

Why did you choose your host university?

I chose to study at Aston University for a few reasons. Firstly, my dream has always been to travel and live in England. The exchange program offered me the chance to do just that – fulfil my dreams. I chose Aston Business School specifically because it is ranked as one of the best business schools in the UK and has a high satisfaction rate of 89% among students. It also offers a range of subjects which was extremely appealing to me as it is difficult to find universities that cater to subjects related to logistics and supply chain management. The location was another great reason to choose Aston University because it is located quite literally in the middle of the UK, allowing for convenient travel. Lastly, Birmingham is known to be a very student centred city with plenty to do – there’s something for everyone.

What was the university like?

Aston University overall is newer and modern university. The experience of attending university at Aston was quite different to UniSA, especially since it was my first time studying on one large campus. It allowed me to meet students from various different disciplines. The campus had a range of facilities as well as accommodation and the ever favourite pastime for British – Pubs. I felt that Aston really encouraged socialisation and community activities. The timetables were relatively flexible with a lot of free time, even though there are more subjects that students undertake. I found there was a cultural difference when it came to attending classes where students were eager to learn and were very enthusiastic to contribute during tutorials and seminars. I found that the assessment types varied between subjects, but were easy to understand and lecturers gave us more opportunities to work out details of our assignments ourselves. The multitude of study spaces and the vast library gave students the resources to study both individually and within groups.

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

The exchange program changed my views on life, the way I think and altered the way I do things now. I became more independent, flexible to new things and better at handling pressure and stress. This opportunity allowed me to experience a life different to the one I have led so far. I was able to develop my understanding of different cultures and politics. This experience threw me out of my comfort zone which ended up being a benefit as it allowed me to network and develop new relationships with people from all around the world. It has helped me become more confident in myself which I struggled with in the past. Returning from exchange, I am more open to new opportunities and more willing to take on challenges. It has also taught me how to work through complex problems calmly and thoughtfully.

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

Aston University offered a large range of accommodation options for a student to choose from. There were other options besides on campus living, such as house share or personal apartments off of campus. There are student accommodation buildings scattered around the city centre either walking distance or a short bus/train ride away. The facilities to get to university are all very easy to use and readily accessible. On campus accommodation usually has standard, double and premium rooms and some offer fully furnished flats complete with a small kitchen.

I lived off campus in a house share with three other female flatmates. I felt this was a good option for me because the rent was cheaper than the ones for student rooms and was a short bus ride away from university. Living on campus allows you to socialise more with flatmates and others around campus, and has high speed Wi-Fi; however it can be a little more expensive than accommodation off campus. I preferred my accommodation as it was also really close to the shops and I was able to see more than just the city centre of Birmingham.

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

Throughout my 6 months in the UK I was able to travel both locally and around Europe. I can’t begin to describe how amazing it was to be able to get a taste of culture from different countries and even see the differences between the cities around the UK.

My timetable and assessment deadlines were flexible, where I had a lot of time off. This allowed me to take weekend trips as well as day trips through the week to different places. I met a German friend on exchange and spent Christmas in Germany. It was truly enlightening and fascinating to see how differently Christmas is celebrated in a different country. Whilst there I also stopped in Prague, which turned out to be my favourite city. I would definitely recommend people to visit Prague; it is breathtaking. Sometimes the things that aren’t the most hyped or advertised as being a place to visit happens to be the best experiences one can have.

I visited:

  • UK – Oxford, Liverpool, Salisbury, Wiltshire, Scotland (Glasgow, Edinburgh & Highlands), Warwick, Devonshire and London!
  • France - Paris
  • Germany – Berlin & Dresden
  • Czech Republic – Prague (My favourite city in the world)
  • Italy – Rome & Venice
  • Belgium – Brugge & Brussels

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

Despite my excitement to be studying and living in England, adjusting to life was a challenge. I don’t want to put anyone off or make it sound daunting but homesickness is a thing! My first couple of weeks were difficult because I was thrown out of my comfort zone with zero familiarity and no friends. This is not the end of the world – it gets better. Surprisingly, the weather was not too difficult to adjust to, since I arrived at the beginning of September which was the beginning of Autumn but the weather was warm. Grocery shopping proved to require more adjustment than I originally thought because products there aren’t as fresh and the shopping layout vastly differs to Australia’s shopping centres with supermarkets inside one building. The international welcome week before Freshers week is a really good place to meet new people especially since the people I met were all in the same boat as me and looking to make friends. Attending all the classes and joining clubs/societies were another great way of meeting people from all walks of life.

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

I believe that this exchange will have a benefit on my future career for many reasons. Firstly, from a personal aspect it shows that I am capable of adapting to change and willing to work in different environments. I have been able to see what it would be like to live and even work in different countries. It would also look good to have another university from a different university on my resume and could possibly open up more opportunities within that country. I have also been able to look into the types of job opportunities and career options that I could pursue if I chose to go back. I have also learnt to communicate with people from different cultures and backgrounds, which can be an asset in this global economy.

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

Just do it! In my opinion, it doesn’t get any simpler than that. I strongly encourage anyone considering to join the exchange program to take the leap and join. I was pretty sceptical to go for it because of all the changes that it would have in my life, but looking I don’t regret a single moment of it. It was the best thing that has happened to me. I learnt so many new things both academically and personally. It gives you a sense of achievement as well as confidence in oneself that you can do anything you put your mind to.

Top Tips:

Do as much as you can, see as much as you can and just get the most of your trip. There is so much you can do whilst on exchange. I learnt to leave my comfort zone and try out new things that I would not have at home. Give it a go!

Areas of study and research

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