Sarah - University of Bath

B Economics/Commerce
Semester 2, 2018
Exchange was the highlight of my life, seize the opportunity and don't look back!

Academic experience

Whilst I was on exchange I studied five subjects, which is a full study load at the University of Bath. These subjects were; Britain's International History, Writer's of Bath and the West Country, Finance for Multinational Corporations, Treasury Management and Business and Strategy in Emerging Markets. If you have electives, utilise the unique subjects the University offers exclusively to exchange students, such as the history, literature and linguistic courses. These ended up being some of my favourite subjects, were a great way to meet other exchange students and aren't likely to be offered at UQ!

I would also recommend attending the academic information sessions the University runs in Oritentation Week so that you understand course expectations and requirements. While lecturer's at UQ will record their lectures, the same is not required at Bath, and only some lecturer's will record their class - make sure to attend regularly or get notes off a friend!

Personal experience

My exchange was the most incredible and life-changing experience, and I loved every moment of it. I was amazed by the incredible friendships I formed in such a short space of time, and the international network of friends I now have. Being able to put your life at home on hold, and live in a foreign country/city exploring new interests and making new friends is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I would recommend to anyone. 

I'm extremely glad I choose Bath for my exchange. Not only is the city stunning, with its original Georgian architecture (no wonder it's national heritage listed), but it's also a great place for students, with a vibrant campus atmosphere and fantastic nightlife - Club Komedia was a personal favourite. Completing my exchange in their semester 1 (our semester 2) meant I was able to enjoy the best Bath has to offer, with summery days in the park as well as the famous christmas markets.

Accommodation

I choose to stay in one of the University provided accommodation options that they offer exlusively to exchange and post-graduate students. While you can organise your own private accommodation, Bath is a student city and therefore competition is quite high, especially if you're only staying 6 months. I would therefore reccommend the University provided option. My accommodation was quite central, only 2 minutes walk from the bus routes and 5 minutes from the High Street. As there were 8 of us sharing a kitchen, it was also a fantastic way to meet other exchange students, and we would often cook and study together. 

Although I had a few dinner disasters along the way (confirmed by friends who were forced to sample my cooking), I enjoyed the challenge of living independently, and I thoroughly miss the communal atmosphere.

Costs

Do your research before you go! The University website has a number of student blogs that provide great budgeting tips and individual experiences, as well as a few template budgets depending on your circumstances. I budgeted around $200-250 per week, and this covered all the bascis, as well as grabbing coffee on campus, going away on weekends and occassionally eating out. It's important to determine the type of lifestyle you want/can afford whilst on exchange. For example, some students opted for a gym membership, choosing to save in other areas. 

In my opinion, transport both in Bath, and on the train system throughout England was quite expensive. I'd advise buying a semester pass to cover your travel to and from university, and buying a railcard, as well as purchasing tickets in advance on the trainline app to save on your other transport. Adding up flights, accommodation, a month travelling before and travels whilst on exchange I budgeted around $20,000 and spent all of it!

Challenge

The biggest challenge I faced on exchange was balancing unversity studies with travels and other activities. It's easy to feel like you're on holidays whilst on exchange, and that mentality meant I sometimes put uni on the backburner. To overcome this I dedicated Monday to Friday to focusing on university work, often going in earlier than classes started to get a headstart. This allowed me to enjoy the weekends, usually stress free, and spend time travelling or going out with friends.

Professional Development

A key take-away from my exchange experience is my increased sense of independence and confidence. Going on exchange made me realise how comfortable I had become in my surroundings at home, and whilst this isn't a bad thing, I never knew how much I was capable of until I was pushed out of my comfort zone. There's no better way to throw yourself in the deep end than navigating a foreign country and interacting with new groups of people. These personal atrributes I developed have flowed through to my professional experiences, as I find it much easier keeping cool in high pressure situations, and being able to adapt to new situations.

Highlight

It was undoubtedly the people I got to meet and the friendships I formed that were the highlight of my exchange experience. Although I was plagued by worries of spending the semester alone, and my first day was a bit rough (try eating with no kitchen utensils), by the end of the trip our kitchen group would bake cinnamon scrolls together and sing our hearts out to high school musical classics!

Top tips

Tip 1. Perspective is key. Not everything is going to be perfect or as you expected. However, it's important to make the most out of every situation - what you get out of your exchange experience is entirely up to you!

Tip 2. Don't be afriad to introduce yourself to new poeple and strike-up a conversation. I did that on my frist day of classes, and ended up meeting one of my closest friends. 

Tip 3. Join the Bath Exchange Network (BEN) and keep an eye on the events and day trips the University Student Union (SU Bath) runs. Both groups were a fantastic way to meet and travel with other exchange students.