Amanda - University College London

B Biomedical Science
Semester 2, 2018
Experience to enjoy

Academic experience

I did three courses in UCL: PHOL0003 (Integrative Physiology), PHOL0005 (Structure and Function of Nervous Systems) and PHOL0010 (Space Medicine and Extreme Environment Physiology) (double unit). PHOL0003 and PHOL0005 gives the BIOM2012 credit in UQ, which is necessary for many taking a Biomedical Science degree. The space medicine module is a specialised third-year course about the physiology in various environments (in space, high-altitude, the hot and cold). I would recommend this unique course to anyone who may be interested in medicine in space, for you'll get to hear from doctors and even astronauts.

In my case, the enrolment process in UCL wasn't as smooth as that of UQ, but for most, it was pretty much fine. One thing to note is that the enrolment only starts a few weeks before the academic year (also depending on your assigned appointment) and if anything goes wrong last minute, it might get a little hectic, so just make sure to have everything ready and in order. 

UCL's academic year is split into three terms, with all the final exams held in the last. Thus, for affiliates on a semester exchange, there will be no final exams, which may or may not be an advantage, since all other assessments will have a higher weightage. For example, PHOL0005 only has a 2-hour test to determine your fate for the entire module.

Personal experience

Through the short few months, I met a bunch of friends of varying backgrounds and cultures to last for a lifetime. We even made plans to visit one another's countries already! We went on trips together, and participated in some of the many clubs and societies in UCL. There is just so many attractive places in London to visit anyday and with the time available, visiting them all is impossible, which make it all even better - you get to see something new everyday.

Accommodation

I lived at Ifor Evans hall, a catered UCL hall of accommodation. Although off-campus, it is only a bus ride away from the university. In Camden Town, which has one of the most popular markets in London, it is also conveniently located near various supermarkets and restaurants, which is a life-saver for lunch on weekdays and dinner on weekends are not provided. One thing I really like about the room is that, even without an en suite (Ifor Evans Hall does not have en suite rooms unfortunately), there is a little wash basin which is really convenient to wash your hands without having to walk all the way to the bathroom every time. I would definitely advise to stay in one of UCL's hall, to easily make friends and have fuss-free food everyday.

Costs

The rent for Ifor Evans Hall was really affordable, costing only £180 per week for a single room. Meals in restaurants averaged about £15, although it obviously depends on what you eat. London being London, basic necessities are definitely pricier than other cities, but there are cheaper options available, in department stores like Argos. Buses are cheaper than tubes, especially since the payment is per trip, rather than the distance travelled. For entertainment, there are many UCL/student clubbing parties throughout the semester, and they can be pretty cheap if you get to catch the early bird tickets. When travelling around Europe, just make sure to book your tickets early and compare between train and flight prices for countries that can be accessed both ways.

Challenge

The enrolment process for me was the biggest hurdle during the exchange. What happened was that the immigration gave me a tourist visa on accident, instead of a short-term student visa. As a result, I was unable to enroll into UCL on time (it was scary how just the week before the start of classes, I was still not enrolled), and had to register for my courses really late (which risks not getting into the courses I need since they are first-come-first-served). However, be it due to luck or not, I emailed the in-charges for the respective courses, explaining my situation, and everything was fine (UCL's international student support team helped a lot in getting the student visa for me). Thus, if anyone ever gets into trouble like this, just make sure to inform, and definitely check and check before leaving the airport (esp. for those who do not have to apply for a student visa beforehand like me).

Professional Development

I went on a trip alone to Italy, which was a first for me (apart from going to countries for education purposes). Initially, the thought of travelling alone was daunting, but this probably is the case for anything new. Learning to adapt to different situations and environments has matured me a lot as a person, especially when doing it alone. Although it seems like a really simple thing, I thought that things like taking the public transport alone with a travelling bag in a country which language I do not speak was a step up to independence (as compared to London or Australia, whereby I would just take Uber for convenience).

Highlight

I used to hate walking, but the long strolls with friends around London, to and fro university at night after dance classes were memories to keep. Going on exchange can really change one!

Top tips

Be open to new experiences, but also remember to study (UCL focuses a lot on academics!)