Maddeson - University of Nottingham

B Arts
Semester 2, 2018
Exchange has given me so many incredible experiences and opportunities, and I have truly been bitten by the travel bug!

Academic experience

I studied a mix of Gender Studies, Media Studies and Literature courses in order to fulfil the remaining requirements of my degree. I found the course structure to be very similar to Australian university, with much the same level of expectations. I did enjoy approaching various questions from a different perspective, with a focus on British politics/culture rather than Australian or American. I found it challenging to interpret the grading system, as it works differently than I am used to. I found the admin of the university to be challenging and a little unorganised, so changes to timetable and enrolment take some time time, but once my courses were organised, there were no problems.

Personal experience

I made so many international friends on this exchange, only some of whom were British! Nottingham has a thriving exchange population from many countries across the world, and many of the exchange students fell together based on a mutual feeling of displacement. I found this made my experience much more enjoyable and I hope to keep lifelong friendships with many of the people I met. Nottingham is such a brilliant starting point for exploring England and Europe!! Almost every weekend I was train-ing or bus-ing around the country, and over the Christmas break I was lucky enough to enjoy a Europe exploration trip with City Life and the UoN Travel Society! Travel was a priority for me when I chose to participate in exchange and I got plenty of opportunity to explore! My favourite places that I visited were probably York, London and Amsterdam, as well as Bruges!!

Accommodation

I lived in on campus catered accommodation in Sherwood Hall on University Part Campus. It was a really nice large room, bigger than I expected! I absolutely advise staying on campus, as its cheaper overall and all your meals are taken care of. The process at Nottingham was super easy and as long as you apply before a certain date, all first year and exchange students are guaranteed a room. The social aspect was the best part about living on campus, as most of my corridor was other exchange students and it was so much fun to live near so many friends!

Costs

I recommend staying in on campus accommodation, as all your meals are covered including lunch as your student card is loaded with 28 GBP per week for purchasing food on campus. For one semester, this cost about 2,400 GBP. I advise this option as I believe it would work out to be the cheapest and most convenient option. As for travel, I recommend getting a youth rail card (30 GBP for the year) and/or a coach card (15 GBP for the year) for exploring the UK, as with these cards you get a 1/3 discount on rail/bus fares. The UK is a comparatively small country and ground travel can work out cheaper than flying (though this is not always the case - check out RyanAir!!!) I recommend saving at least 1500-2,000 Australian dollars for travel, as it will give you great freedom for recreation.

Challenge

One of the biggest challenges I faced was homesickness, which sounds fairly cliché but it is true. I attended UQ's pre-departure exchange information session which outlined how homesickness can affect everyone, but (like everyone) I assumed it would not affect me; I have done rather extensive travel throughout my early life and I am comfortable and familiar with the challenges and rewards of staying in new places, but going it alone was a totally different experience! What really made a difference was finding a group of exchange students in the same boat. By creating such a close knit group, we all helped each other to feel less lonely - Though this does make for some teary farewells!

Professional Development

I feel that this has really expanded my sense of independence and responsibility. I referred to it before I left as moving out with training wheels! It gave me a structured environment where I would have support and security while still developing my own independence. Additionally, it has helped with learning how to manage my time and money effectively in new ways. Finally, it gave me plenty of time to reflect on myself without responsibility to anyone else.

Highlight

There are so many things I loved about my exchange, but the friends and connections I made all across Europe are the best souvenir I have! My friends have made this experience truly unique, and it would not have been the same without them. I had trouble making friends at university in Australia, but in the on campus halls environment, it was incredibly easy and well worth it!

Top tips

Take the plunge! It is an incredibly rewarding way to explore while still having structure to your life! I considered, rather than a university exchange, just traveling, unstructured. Though that would have no doubt been an amazing experience (and I may have travelled wider than I have) If given the opportunity I would still choose to apply for UQ abroad. It has been a unique and enriching experience that I will treasure.