Selina - University College London

B Biomedical Science
Semester 2, 2018
Don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and embrace new experiences!

Academic experience

During my time at UCL I studied BIOL0008, BIOL0010, PHOL0003 and PHOL0005. I especially enjoyed the Genetics course (BIOL0010) as the content and lecturers were very engaging. The subject was structured to provide maximum support for students with tutorials held to ensure that everyone was able to resolve any problems that may arise from the lectures. 

In my opinion the academic system in UK was quite similar to UQ as there were still lectures and practicals held in large groups that everyone was expected to attend. The main challenge I faced was that lecture recordings were recorded only with the lecturers' consent. I overcame this by asking my friends to review the lecture with me if I was unable to attend for any reason. The enrolment process was also similar to UQ's process on my si-net, however, as affiliates, we were only allowed to sign on after our arrival at UCL.

Personal experience

Whilst on exchange I was lucky enough to stay at an amazing hall where I was able to meet friends from England, Asia and America. I was also fortunate enough to meet people also from exchange at UQ in my first lecture at UCL. The friendships that I made during my time on exchange were truly unforgettable. As London is such a large and exciting city, I was able to explore its different areas with my friends, including Borough Market, Hyde Park and Soho. 

With London being so close to many other countries, I also spent time travelling all around Europe. By the end of my exchange experience, I had seen the northern lights in Norway, the beautiful Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia and visited the La Sagrada Familia in Spain, just to name a few. Although most of my travelling experiences were with friends, I also visited several countries as a solo traveller, which made me more responsible and independent.

Accommodation

I lived at Ramsay Hall, which is a catered hall of residence at UCL. One of the best parts about living at Ramsay would definitely be its location, being only 5-10 minutes from UCL and 15 minutes away from Oxford St. As a catered hall, it was convenient to have both breakfast and dinner on weekdays and brunch on weekends. The highlight of living at Ramsay Hall was being so close to all of my friends who also lived there. We regularly had movie nights and also went out to explore London a lot!

When going on exchange in London, I would highly recommend choosing a UCL Hall to stay at as the cost of living there is very high and staying at a hall would be the most convenient and cost effective option.

Costs

Living in London was quite expensive with meals (not including fast food) being around £10+. However as I was living at Ramsay Hall for around £215/week, it meant that I did not need to buy most of my meals. As exchange is for an extended period of time, I would advise to shop like a local rather than a tourist and try to minimise the amount of meals that you would eat out. During the meals that were not catered for me, I would buy groceries and make my own meals as Ramsay has their own kitchens and supermarket prices were around the same as those in Australia. 

Although life in London was expensive, travelling to Europe was very cheap, with budget airlines having one-way tickets from London as low as £10. The cost for accommodation in European cities also depended on whether you stayed at a hotel or hostel, but prices for both were quite reasonable for what you got.

Challenge

The biggest challenge by far was taking the leap of faith to go to live in a foreign city on the other side of the world where I knew no one. It was definitely a nerve-wracking experience at the beginning as I had to adapt to the new environment and make new friends. Fortunately, everyone there was very nice, and with some luck and confidence, I was able to make new friends in no time!

Professional Development

By going to exchange at a global university such as UCL, I was able to develop personally and professionally. I was able to meet many mentors who were developing new biomedical research techniques as well as forming life-long friendships with people from all around the world.

Highlight

The highlight of my exchange experience was definitely the long-lasting friendships that resulted from my trip. Although visiting cities such as Paris, Prague and Amsterdam were truly spectacular, I found that the times I missed most were in fact the random moments where my friends and I would roam the streets of London searching for bubble tea or when I would crash their rooms out of boredom.

Top tips

Don't be daunted by the whole application process to go on exchange! I found it quite tedious, however at the encouragement of my peers, I completed it a day before the deadline and from that point onwards I had no regrets. The process may be long, but it is definitely worth it! 

Also, when going on exchange, it is almost a guarantee that you will travel to other countries and have some unforgettable experiences. However, don't forget to savour even the smallest things that you may think is insignificant at the time, because in the future it will be those moments that you reminisce about.    

Finally, don't be afraid of going to a place that is completely foreign. Exchange is a time for self-development, and you are definitely capable of more things than you think you can do. Just remember to be more open and proactive!