Yolande - University of Glasgow

B Communication/Arts
Semester 2, 2018
I was nervous to leave, but I fell in love with Glasgow. I can't wait to go back.

Academic experience

Going on exchange so late in my dual degree, I was concerned that I wasn’t fully enrolled in all the classes I needed to be in during the International Orientation week. However, Glasgow’s abroad office were very accommodating and helpful. I was able to do two classes in comparative literature, and two classes in English language. All of them offered texts that were very different to UQ’s options. The comparative literature classes focused on translated works that were influential in Britain or literary history. I loved doing the English Language classes (Name Studies and Reading the Past) because Glasgow Uni has been around for hundreds of years. A highlight of my studies would have to be looking at physical texts from around the 13th century, including some of Chaucer’s works.

Personal experience

I loved making friends, both local students and fellow exchange students. Studying the history of English language gave me incredible insight into the way we speak, and the origins of place and given names in any English-speaking country. Learning about book culture from a thousand odd years ago until now has provided me with knowledge I would never have gained because Glasgow University has such amazing resources at their disposal. The Scottish countryside is beautiful and easily accessible via public transport, but there are also many parks and interesting shops and restaurants available to explore in the city.

Accommodation

I lived off-campus in private accommodation on the south side of Glasgow in Govanhill. I loved being able to immerse myself in Scottish day-to-day life, getting to know my neighbours, the family who run the shop under my flat, and doing things as part of a community outside university.

Costs

Rent is expensive, but I was lucky enough to live with a family friend who gave me mates-rates. Some of my fellow international friends paid between $200 and $400 AUD per week for their campus flats. Food from the shops was a similar price to Australia, but fruit and veggies tend to be pricier when compared to things like pasta, rice, and meat. Eating out is expensive if you’re in the city centre or West End, paying $20-$40AUD for a meal and a coffee. However, if you get out of the city and explore other suburbs, everything is a lot cheaper, including drinks. Public transport is more expensive than Brisbane, but if you use buses or trains more often, you can get multi-ticket packs which cut costs a lot. I used trainline to book long-distance trains in advance (even to places like Stirling or Edinburgh, you can get them cheaper when you buy them earlier, but you don’t have to). This is very helpful to get to places like London or Newcastle, etc. You can also purchase a Youth Rail Card (£30 for a year) with an app on your phone (or at the station) that saves you 1/3 of the cost on trains. Going to the movies can be expensive, but bars are abundant for any night-time entertainment. I would recommend having a minimum of $8000, but you will likely need something closer to $10,000-$12,000 if you would like to be able to do more activities and to keep from being overly stressed about budgeting. You could potentially do a month of travelling outside the semester with that much money.

Challenge

My biggest issue was understanding how Glasgow Uni uses "Moodle", but once I asked my lecturers, they were happy to help. The smaller class sizes makes it easy to have personal relationships with tutors and lecturers. I also felt anxious about making friends, but just reminding myself that everyone is in the same boat helped me to push past any self-doubt.

Professional Development

The independence required to move to a new country is scary and thrilling, but in moving out of my comfort zone, I gained some perspective. I was struggling to see what I wanted to do when I graduated, and being in a new place, around new people, I could see all the ways that people find their passion and fulfillment. I learnt how much I love the outdoors; I loved pushing past physical and mental barriers.

Highlight

Aside from the people, I loved the weather in Scotland. Being able to explore a place with a different landscape and rich history made every trip that much more exciting. 
I loved doing day tours around Scotland: up to Glencoe, over to Arran, across to Edinburgh. I got to see some awesome international artists in concert, as well as local folk stars. I really enjoyed playing board games with some friends in “Geek Retreat” in the city, as well as my whirlwind trip to Newcastle with a university friend.

Top tips

Immerse yourself in university life, but also try to get involved in something that helps you meet people who live in Glasgow permanently (a social sports team, a community project, casual work, volunteering). Try to avoid buying lunch at university and make the most of the resources in the library. Use your weekends to travel around Scotland, or to other areas in the UK. You could even head over to countries in continental Europe for a few days. If you want to head to some of the Isles, you can still do it later in the year around winter, but weather tends to be a bit brighter around summer. I went to Arran in January and it was still gorgeous, and I was able to do some of the walks, all in one day from Glasgow. I can’t recommend doing an exchange enough, and I can’t wait to go back to Glasgow very soon (I plan to head back in a year). The weather is very liveable, and it won’t get as cold and grey as everyone says it does. Glasgow is a dynamic, friendly city to live in; it has something to offer everyone.Glasgow is a dynamic, friendly city to live in; it has something for everyone.