Madeline - University of Bath

B Commerce/Information Technology
Semester 2, 2018
Quite simply, my time spent in Bath was the best six months of my life.

Academic experience

During my exchange at the University of Bath I studied five subjects that counted towards both my information technology and commerce degree. These subjects were: financial accounting and reporting, privacy, trust and security in information systems, advanced consumer behaviour, consumer psychology and principles of marketing. At first, the thought of studying five subjects at a foreign university seemed daunting to me; however, it quickly became second nature. The academic exchange staff at Bath were incredible and always readily available to resolve any enrolment or assessment related issues. 

Studying and the University of Bath was definitely a learning curve. Firstly, it isn’t common for lectures to be recorded meaning that attendance is key. Furthermore, class sizes are much smaller than those at UQ. In the case of my advanced consumer behaviour course, I was one of only 30 students enrolled. This allowed me to have regular in-depth discussions with my lecturer further enhancing my understanding of the course. Finally, it is common for subjects at Bath to require only one or two pieces of assessment. This means that it is imperative to stay up to date with course content as trying to learn everything the night before is just not realistic.

Personal experience

If my exchange has taught me anything it’s that if you’re willing to put yourself out there you will be rewarded. I can still vividly remember arriving in Bath for the first time at the bus station feeling so alone and far away from anything I knew. When I compare that to my last few days in Bath, surrounded by friends from all corners of the globe, it’s amazing how quickly Bath became my home away from home. 

The friends I was lucky enough to make overseas ranged from fellow Australians to Italians to Bath locals. It sounds cliché but the people you meet really do make an experience that much more special. I feel so incredibly lucky to now have access to a global network of friends- this would have to be one of the biggest takeaways from the entire experience. 

The University of Bath, having been named the Sports University of the year in 2017, also provided me with the opportunity to play competitive hockey during my time away. I found this experience in itself incredibly beneficial in terms of making friends outside of the exchange network. Being able to travel with the team to neighbouring counties has also left me with unforgettable memories of the times shared travelling to and from games with my teammates.

Accommodation

During my time overseas I lived in student accommodation organised by the University of Bath specifically for exchange and post-graduate students. The accommodation itself (Thornbank Gardens) was a complex of four buildings located five minutes from the city centre. This inner city location meant everything was within walking distance including the bus stop that would take you to the University. The communal kitchens and living areas within Thornbank also provided me with the opportunity to meet other exchange students. Before I knew it, I was cooking authentic spaghetti carbonara alongside my friends from Italy and eating chocolate pudding prepared by my next-door neighbour.

Costs

As with anything, costs incurred on exchange will differ from experience to experience. On average, I budgeted around $350 AUD per week (exclusive of accommodation and airfares). If you plan to travel during your time abroad I would definitely recommend budgeting more. Having said this, Bath is very much a student town so definitely keep your eye out for travel deals and student discounts at as it will end up saving you more than expected.

Challenge

Having come from hot and humid Brisbane, the weather in Bath is a completely different experience all together. During some mornings that required early starts I woke to frosted windows, ice-covered footpaths and even snow. Learning to dress appropriately for the climate is key to overcoming this particular challenge. Scarves, gloves and a warm jacket are all mandatory mid-winter.

Professional Development

On return my willingness to enjoy new experiences and meet new people has been enhanced. I believe this will serve me well into the future as I endeavour further my studies and career.

Highlight

During the holiday period, I was lucky enough to have my family come and visit me in Bath. Being able to show them my favourite bakeries, cafes to study in and the University itself made me realise how comfortable and confident I had become in my surroundings. 

My decision to go on exchange was one of the best of my life thus far, it was truly life changing. 
I cannot recommend this experience highly enough.

Top tips

-    Budget, budget, budget- keep track of your money!
-    If attending the University of Bath, I would highly recommend joining a sporting team or social club, it’s a great way to meet locals and form lasting friendships 
-    Travel! Make sure to experience surrounding towns and countries
-    Don’t be afraid and jump straight into the experience!