Isabella - Royal Holloway, University of London

B Science
Semester 2, 2018
Exchange pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me grow as a person. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget!

Academic experience

At Royal Holloway I studied second year physiology, as well as three electives; criminal justice, sociology and international relations. The structure of learning and assessment was very different to UQ, as the number of contact hours per week were far less, which allowed me to explore London more often. The lectures are not recorded, so it was important to attend all of them and ask questions where I didn’t understand something. Also, I found that throughout the semester there was less assessment compared to UQ, as the exams and assignments were conducted at the end of the semester with each piece of assessment worth 70% - 100%. This university structure and assessment method was a fantastic learning opportunity, as I had to adapt and diversify my study skills and schedule to suit the courses, which overall made me grow as a student.

Personal experience

At Royal Holloway I made life-long international friends from around the world, who I then went travelling with around Scotland, England and France during the semester. Exchange enabled me to explore London from a local perspective rather than as a tourist, which was an amazing and eye-opening experience.

Accommodation

I stayed in Founder’s Hall, which is a college located on the university campus. The room was dormitory style with a basin and a mirror, similar to colleges at UQ. There was a communal kitchen area and all students staying in Founder’s Hall were given a 50% discount at the dining hall. This college is where I made many friends, as being surrounded by other students made it much easier to connect with others and feel more at home at university. Also, the location of Founder’s Hall meant that it took me 2 minutes to walk to class from my bedroom.

Costs

Overall, I spent $10, 000 on exchange. The college accommodation alone cost $2800, however this did not include meals, which were 2 - 4 pounds at the dining hall. My main budgeting priority was for travel and transport; all together I went on four trips throughout the semester.

Challenge

The biggest challenge I faced was when I became very unwell during the first two weeks of university when I was still settling in and getting to know people. Although I was out of my comfort zone and felt slightly homesick, I pushed through the sickness and recovered so that I was able to socialise and attend my lectures.

Professional Development

This exchange broadened my knowledge of the world as well as my ability to interact and work with people from other cultures. Also, I developed resilience and independence by being out of my comfort zone.

Highlight

There were many highlights of my experience, however some of the most memorable moments included the Queen driving past me, touring around the Scottish Highlands and becoming friends with a few London locals.

Top tips

I would recommend booking weekend trips as early as possible and plan ahead, as transport becomes very expensive if you wait until the last minute. Also, purchasing a 16 – 25 rail card gives you 30% off any rail transport (including the train into London) around the United Kingdom. Given that the university is a 30-minute train ride out of London, this rail card will be useful when travelling in and out of the city. Although the university is not in central London, keep in mind that the city and surrounding areas are very expensive in terms of food, transport and entertainment. I would also advise that if you encounter any issues with timetabling, enrolment or exams/assignments, go straight to your personal tutor (who is assigned to each individual student) as soon as possible. The most important tip is to make the most out of all of the opportunities that the university offers you, because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity.