Lucy - University of Sussex

B Science
Semester 2, 2018

Academic experience

The courses I took while at the University of Sussex ranged in level and discipline - two first year courses in Psychology and Economics, and one third year course in Science. They were all quite interesting and I felt were taught in a similar way to at UQ. One of the challenges I faced with my university life was balancing my courses and wanting to travel as much as I could - my tip for this is to utilise time spent traveling to your next destination eg. the plane or train right could take from one to six hours. Overall Sussex University is full of forward thinking staff and students, and is a beautiful, green campus.

Personal experience

Going on exchange was one of the most scary yet exciting and fulfilling experiences I have ever done. The University really helped to make my transition as easy as possible, specifically holding a pizza party on the first night for all the exchange students. I was quite nervous being thrown straight in with all these unknown people, however I ended up meeting amazing people from all around the world and our friendships only grew from there. 

England was an amazing home base, allowing me to easily and pretty cheaply travel around Europe and the UK. I got to go to Denmark, France and the Netherlands, as well as a number of cities (such as Liverpool and Bath) in the UK/Wales. 

Getting to live in Brighton had always been a dream of mine, and it definitely lived up to my expectations. This perfect coastal town is simple but also bustling with life. The sheer number of amazing restaurants and vintage stores meant I didn't have enough time to see them all. I can't wait to come back and visit again.

Accommodation

My accommodation provided by the University was bitter sweet. The only option for exchange students was to live off-campus, and we were all placed in a hotel 40 minutes from the University. The living conditions were less than ideal with small rooms for two people, barely enough closet and desk space and a kitchen that did not fit the 60-odd people living there. By the fourth week, this whole situation became such a joke that all I could do was laugh and try and enjoy the small number of positives about my living situation. Firstly, the location was superb in terms of getting into town (only a five minute bus ride) and being able to see the ocean from my bedroom window, and as soon as I walked outside. Additionally, living in such close quarters with all these new friends truly allowed us to become life-long friends.

Costs

Living in Brighton was quite manageable as a student on a budget - excluding coffee of course. The groceries were much cheaper in England and the student friendly phone plans were abundant, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The exchange rate was not too flash while I was over there, so I would recommend always keeping that in mind to ensure you aren't recklessly over-spending because it seems cheap in pounds. But I would rather spend a little extra on an experience than return home in three months and regret not participating in everything I possibly could.

Challenge

The biggest challenge for me while on exchange was having to live so closely with so many people who I had never met before and were from different cultures/backgrounds - considering I had only ever lived with my parents. It became frustrating when their way of life was very different to mine, specifically when people began leaving food and pans around the communal kitchen. However, this experience taught me how to be more patient and communicate better with people when I have a problem.

Professional Development

Following this experience I have become more outgoing and willing to say yes to everything, even if it scares me. These attributes will contribute to my personal and professional life as I am more confident to push and strive for what I want in my life, and to not be so scared of failure.

Highlight

The highlights of my trip are all centred around the friends I made while living in Brighton. I was able to share amazing experiences travelling around Europe and experiencing the wonderful town of Brighton with my friends who were also on exchange. On top of that, the friends I made through the Sussex Hockey team I joined were able to show me a different side of University life in England, allowing me to really feel at home and included in this otherwise foreign town.

Top tips

My number one top tip would be to join a sports team, music group or club. The student at Sussex are so encouraging and inclusive, allowing anyone to participate in extra-curricular activities. I know a number of other exchange students joined sports teams, even though we were only there one semester. My own experience with Sussex Hockey was one of the best decisions I made, as you get to experience a whole different side than just being there on exchange. What stood out to me was the social aspect of these teams, being nothing I had experienced with my own sporting team at UQ. So definitely try join something to top off your exchange experience.