William - AIM Overseas Cambridge Sciences

B Science
July 2019

My experience

I've always wanted to go on an exchange for my degree, however a 6-month one wasn't really possible for me. I have had many friends return from exchange and say that they have had great experiences, including the awesome friends that you meet and experiencing the culture in a different continent. A short term experience was perfect as I didn't have to leave for a very long time and was able to fit it into my degree. It was also one of the only times where I would be able to travel to a different country to study, even more so because it was at the University of Cambridge.

How has the experience changed you?

Personally, the experience has made me much better at travelling solo overseas. It's quite difficult to manage your time, food and plans for the day, especially if you're travelling between countries and meeting friends in between.  I've made so many friends overseas and got to know their country and culture. Academically, it was an amazing experience being taught by Cambridge lecturers. It was a big difference compared to UQ because they taught some concepts really well and were really passionate about their subjects. It was also awesome because some discoveries were made only a few hundred metres from the classroom (discovery of DNA and the electron).

Favourite memory

My favourite memory is punting on the creek in Cambridge with a great group of friends. It was so fun and it isn't as difficult as it looks. Everyone took a turn punting. I also really enjoyed the Garden Party and St Johns, it really made us feel like we were a part of the community.

Top tips

When travelling in a different country, especially as a solo traveller, you really do have to be careful with your belongings and safety. Finding help in countries who don't speak English is quite difficult and frightening. I have had encounters with thieves (luckily nothing stolen) and dangerous places, so just be street smart - don't show your expensive belongings around. Money is also a tough choice, you can exchange money at the airport or get a travel card etc. Do your research to make sure you don't lose too much. I think the Macquarie Bank cards have no international transaction fees and you can just use AUD with no extra cost. Google flights is also apparently the best way to book flights, book early and spend a bit of time looking, it will save you a lot of effort and money. These were some tips I learnt from a friend and will be using on my next trip. All of this seems a bit negative, but seriously, just enjoy your time overseas, have an awesome time with your new international friends because there really is nothing else like it.