Oliver - University of Leeds

B Science/Commerce
Semester 2, 2018
Leave nothing in the tank!

Academic experience

While overseas I had the great opportunity to study an interesting array of subjects that helped me progress through my science course at UQ. While I stuck to my personal course of biomedical science, such as neurobiology and cardio-respiratory neuroscience, a fantastic mix of subjects were available for study, including traditional alcoholic beverages - brewing beer and visiting vineyards! I found my subjects both challenging and captivating, however there was increased pressure on the student to ensure they understood the course content, as there were fewer practicals/tutorials for consolidation (compared to UQ).

Personal experience

My time abroad was easily some of the best months of my life, and an almost indescribable experience. I loved the independence away from home, and having my own space to relax and study. It also forced me to be a much more confident person with regard to socialising and taking on new and exciting opportunities and responsibilities. 

I was surrounded by an awesome group of friends both on my floor and the floor above, which made it much easier for me to mingle and bond with the my college dorm. I made lifelong friends on the six months I was away, some living as far as London or Amsterdam, some much closer like Perth or Sydney, and some only 15 minutes away here in Brisbane. The city of Leeds has an incredible night life, with an event always happening during the evenings and would highly recommend it to anyone who loves partying and getting out of the house, or perhaps someone who would like to become that way. 

The location of Leeds in the UK allowed us to do plenty of travelling, going to Paris, Prague and Krakow during the Christmas break, or taking a $38 plane to Dublin on the weekend! It was impossible to get bored in Leeds, and I had an absolutely unforgettable time.

Accommodation

While abroad I stayed in Charles Morris Hall, right in the heart of the University of Leeds, and Leeds itself, with only a 100m walk to my lecture theatres and classrooms, and a 15 minute walk to the centre of the city - you couldn’t ask for a better location. Luckily my accommodation was also catered so I wasn't forced to do much cooking, however due to this factor and the prime location of Charles Morris Hall, the rent racked up to $320 a week. I met the vast majority of my friends inside the hall however, as we all ate and went out together, so it was definitely worth the extra cost.

Costs

Once we arrived in Leeds after during 5-6 weeks of travelling beforehand, the cost of living was relatively cruisy due to the catered accommodation, leaving the only other cost to be drinks, snacks and extra food, or buying entry to events around the city. The accommodation levelled out to be about $6000, and I allowed myself 100 pounds per week to get me through the rest of the semester, disregarding any travel I did over the Christmas break and my weekend trip to Ireland. Other living expenses such as grocery shopping was rather similar to Australian prices (with the exception of really cheap drinks in the UK!).

Challenge

Similar to many of the new abroad students from around the world, my first and biggest challenge was settling into the new life overseas, a very long way from home in a different time zone and with not many familiar faces. However by forcing myself to go out as much as I could to meet and greet the other travellers, and by immersing myself in other social activities such as the tennis and cricket societies, these nerves very quickly dissipated and before I knew it I had met plenty of fascinating students from around the globe.

Professional Development

I believe I have developed and improved some extremely important skills while abroad, most notably my response to new and potentially nerve wracking situations, as I feel I have become much more comfortable controlling my nerves and accepting these situations as potentially exciting opportunities rather than unwanted confrontations. This will hopefully assist me in many aspects of my personal and professional life, and will help me build my social and study skills tremendously.

Highlight

Fresher's week in Leeds really stood out among the rest, providing me with some memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life. It was the time when I met all my friends that would join me on the exchange journey for the next 5 months, the introduction to my new home, how the university would work, and it gave me a glimpse into what this amazing opportunity to study abroad would have in store for me. I will never forget the arriving day in Leeds, dropping my bags in my room and heading straight out the door with a bunch of fellow exchange students, all buzzing and eager to socialise and explore the vibrant city life together. It was an blend of excitement, nervousness and overwhelming joy that would put an unbreakable smile on my face for days to come.

Top tips

My biggest piece of advice to anyone going overseas to Leeds or any other university, is to try and say yes to every opportunity that comes your way, and throw yourself in the deep end as much as possible. I tried to live up to this standard of experiencing fresh and sometimes uncomfortable situations, and feel completely satisfied with my efforts to adapt and overcome these encounters. Another perspective I took on board when I first arrived is that all the other abroad students are in the same boat as you, so they will undoubtedly be eager to make new friends, and will also be feeling the same trepidation as you, so it's better you go through it together instead of alone. My final piece of advice is to have fun! I have not spoken to a single person who had an overall bad experience on exchange, so no matter how tough things get overseas and away from home, know that the situation will improve with a positive attitude and you will hold dear the coming next few months in your life, most of which will remain in your memories forever.