Ella - University of Surrey

B International Hotel & Tourism Management/Business Management
Semester 2, 2018

Academic experience

During my exchange I completed 4 tourism/hospitality subjects. I found all of the classes insightful and interesting especially with the amount of guest lecturers and industry professionals that were brought in to speak to us. 
There were some differences I found between the University of Surrey and UQ . One being the amount of assessment. In Surrey I had less pieces of assessment however they were heavily weighted and covered a larger percentage of my overall mark. For example one of my subjects only had one piece of assessment which was a 100% final exam. Another difference was the lack of online information for the courses. For three out of four of my courses the lectures were not recorded and uploaded online. Some of my lecturers also only uploaded a modified version of the PowerPoints rather than the full one used in the lecture. Another difference is that you aren’t able to choose your own timetable which can be frustrating. I was unlucky and ended up having classes everyday however I also met other exchange students that only had classes twice a week. Despite these differences it wasn’t too hard to manage or adapt to.

Personal experience

My decision to go on exchange was one of the best decisions I have ever made. As a fairly shy and introverted person I was a bit apprehensive about taking part in my exchange knowing that I would be in a completely new town with no one I knew.  However all the other exchange students are in the exact same boat so everyone knows how you are feeling. The incoming exchange students arrive three days before the local students so you have time to make friends with each other, settle in and get your bearings around the Uni before the masses arrive. 
Due to Guildford’s proximity to London I spent many of my free days and weekends wandering around the city exploring. The Uni offers many organised trips some single day ones and other longer ones in different parts of Europe and the UK. I only went on one of the organised trips which was to Stonehenge and Bath. It was a great day and I really recommend going.  I was also able to travel to some parts of Europe as Guildford isn’t too far from Heathrow and Gatwick airports where you can find cheap flights. It was so much fun travelling around new places with new people and creating memories you will never forget!

Accommodation

I found accommodation quite easy to apply for. As soon as I was accepted by Surrey they sent me the information on how to apply for accommodation. As I was looking for on campus accommodation it was super easy and the Surrey exchange staff were really good at helping. There are three campuses with accommodation: Stag hill which is the main campus, Manor Park about a 15min walk from Stag Hill and Hazel Farm accessible via bus. I chose band D as my first preference as I was looking for a single room ideally on Stag Hill campus (the main campus).  Luckily I got my first choice and was put in Battersea Court which is very central on Stag Hill campus. In my accommodation I had 13 flat mates and between us we shared the kitchen, 3 toilets and 3 showers. Although it may sound horrible sharing with so many people it wasn’t as bad as I thought. Cleaners came every three days and I never had to wait for a free shower. All my flatmates were so lovely and I had the best time living on campus!

Costs

In terms of costing I chose to pay my accommodation upfront rather than in installments, so I knew how much money I had left for the rest of my exchange. I tried not to spend too much money on unnecessary things and if you are eating out in Guildford keep an eye out because many food places offer student discounts. I tried to do my supermarket shopping once every two weeks and the best way for me to save money was to plan my meals for the two weeks. If there were small things I needed or forgot to buy at the supermarket there is a mini one on campus however this is slightly more expensive. I would roughly spend about £40 a fortnight on groceries.

Challenge

One of my biggest challenges was being out of my comfort zone especially on the first few days. I overcame this by getting involved in as much as possible and taking every opportunity that I could.

Professional Development

In terms of professional development I have definitely stepped out of my comfort zone and become a more confident and independent person. Going on exchange forces you to communicate with new people from all over the world and makes you more culturally aware. I was also able to learn from more industry professionals and learnt about the Tourism, Hospitality and Events industry in the UK, broadening my knowledge on the industry.

Highlight

My highlight would definitely be the friends I made. Within the first three days I met people that are now my life long friends. We are all from different parts of the world and have already spoken about having a reunion in a few years time! The best nights were spent with my new friends enjoying ourselves having drinks and stuffing our faces with all the best food from everyone’s home countries.

Top tips

•    If you’ve been thinking about going on exchange definitely go, it will be the best experience and you won’t regret it once you are there!
•    Get a 16-25 railcard. It costs about £30 but then you get 30% off every time you purchase a train ticket. From Guildford it was quite expensive to get to London via train however as I went into London quite often I ended up saving a lot of money. 
•    Look at Go Euro for coaches from the bus stop outside Tesco (15min walk from campus). This is a lot cheaper and although it is longer than a train you are guaranteed a seat and it is a comfortable ride. Going to London on the coach takes you to Victoria station. The coaches also go to some airports and I even got one to Portsmouth.