Emma - University of Glasgow

B Arts/Laws
Semester 1, 2019
It was an exchange experience as spirited and interesting and full of fun and surprises as Glasgow itself!

Academic experience

Academically, studying in the UK was a privilege in many ways. I was fortunate enough to be enrolled in all law elective courses - Environmental Law, Intellectual Property Law, Internet Law and Family Law. With the Law School of the University of Glasgow currently ranked extremely highly in the UK, as well as the university itself being a Russel Group institution, all of these subjects were immensely interesting and well taught. The law school was extremely communicative and helpful in making sure all students were enrolled in subjects they were qualified for and totalling the correct credit total.  The difficulty of subjects was probably comparable to that of Australia, but with the upside of more time for study without work commitments etc., as characteristically take up time when in Australia. Contact hours were low for law, so I had plenty of time without classes. Assessment varied for courses, with Environmental and Intellectual Property law having both an assignment and exam, Family Law only coursework and Internet law a 100% final exam. It was relatively easy taking law electives without any background understanding of the UK and/or EU legal structures, however the insight that the courses gave into these systems was immensely interesting from an Australian background. This was even more the case studying in early 2019 with the uncertain light Brexit shone on almost every area of regulation. Exchange students were well catered for in all of these courses and so acquiring ample understanding of these systems was very achievable.

Personal experience

I have nothing to compare to, but I really cannot conceive having a better exchange experience than I did!

The highlight for me was the friendships, made through uni and through travel. In Glasgow, we had a big group of exchange students from all sorts of places living in flats close to one another. It was always easy to rally someone, or many, for fun, travel plans or study company. As well as the many people who are automatic friends due to being in the same exchange adventure boat, I was lucky to make a few who I would now consider some of my dearest, and who I keep in regular touch with. 

The ability to travel is enough to blow an Aussie mind. I went over early for New Years Eve in Edinburgh (magical), jumped across to Ireland with some exchange friends for St Patrick's Day (Dublin books out well in advance, but other major cities put on a great show too - we went to Limerick), took a trip across to Europe to join my parents over spring break and accepted an invitation to stay with an exchange friend's family in Spain for a week over her birthday. After semester, I backpacked for 7 weeks in Europe, staying with people I'd met in Glasgow and other Aussie friends. There is time and opportunity for travel and it is so, so worth embracing. 

I started on the path to learning a new language and would now consider myself passably conversational in Glaswegian! (It's a pretty distinct formulation of 'English')

On a personal level, I could go on and on about what a special thing it is moving overseas and travelling for a period. Spending an extended stretch of time completely separated from the people and norms you are familiar with is valuable in a countless many ways, both in terms of self-realisation and self-development. It's also a great lot of fun.


Some of my happiest memories are sitting around our shared kitchen as different people drifted in and out, cooking, eating, studying, chatting. Glasgow Uni provides student accommodation to all exchange students, and the administrators were really helpful and communicative along every step of the process. Students are given a chance to elect preferences in the student accommodation they would like, and this is assigned on a first-in, first-served basis (so put your form in quickly if you have a strong preference!). The student accommodations vary marginally in quality, distance to the university and social scenes. The Student Apartments are quite beautiful and literally minutes walk from the university library, though one will usually be sharing a (albeit very big) room with another student. I stayed in Murano Village, and did so for its (well-deserved) reputation of a good social scene. Murano is pleasant 25 minute walk from campus. The rooms and flats are basic and slightly aged but very adequate. My flat was one of the smaller variety and was quite empty most of the time, however the proximity to other flats meant I could spend most of my time bouncing between friends’ places. Exchange students were flatted together, which was great for the ease of making loads of friends who were equally excited and free and keen to partake in adventures. When putting in my preferences, I balked at the ‘large flats’ for the thought of living with so many people; in hindsight, I spent the vast majority of my time in a large flat kitchen, which became a social hub for much of the exchange group, and so this would have been my first choice were I to go again. I’ll add that Accommodation Services for all student accommodations were very helpful and made a very fluid process for students wishing to change flats at any point during the semester for any reason.


The price tag on the exchange experience can vary vastly depending on lifestyle and extra travel undertaken. I went over with approximately $18,000, which got me through exchange and the 6 weeks of travel I have done since without forgoing too much fun. I did not intend on having much left over, and I didn’t. The exchange rate was not particularly kind while I was there. This obviously varies, but is good to watch when it comes to larger expenses. 

The cost of a semester's accommodation is pretty standard across university lodgings (more for ensuite rooms). I couldn't quote the exact amount as this varies by semester and is susceptible to exchange rate fluctuations for exchange students. The university accommodation website is diligent in keeping current figures current.  Glasgow is very walkable, no matter where you live, so I did not spend a lot on transport. There are busses for 1-2 pounds from the west end to city centre (approximately 35 minutes on foot), and Ubers from the city in the evening are many and around 4-8 pounds (great to split with friends, who you will probably be living with!). It would be very easy to blow more on eating out and entertainment, however Glasgow is super student-friendly, so there were many deals and discounts to make evening expeditions more affordable and justifiable. Special recommendation for the Gardener Café 1 pound takeaway coffees every day and end-of-day meal price reductions at all the main grocery stores! The 10 pound, nine hour night bus to London is practically a quintessential Glasgow experience. For another 10 pounds, 10 hours and multiple leg cramps, you can make it all the way to Paris! Budget airlines regularly offer cheap journeys across the continent, so keep an eye on this! Railcards are also worth investigating for significant discounts (1/3, I believe) on UK train services.


In all honestly, the greatest challenge, by far, was leaving. I am still overcoming this through healthy reflection, regular contact with special friends acquired overseas and recognising the fact that it must've been pretty great for leaving to be this wrenching! This is premature thinking for prospective students though! 

The biggest challenges seem to vary person to person and creep up in different ways. I have lived independently for several years and managed a healthy amount of independent travel previously, so these aspects were less daunting. I was, however, scared to be going to be staying in a place where I did not have any close friends. This took care of itself blessedly quickly - living with other exchange students, there was a ready-made group of people on the other side of the world to everything and everyone familiar to them, all united by a common geography, curiosity and sense of adventure. Reaching the point of closeness that I eventually did with many people was a longer process that can only come about through time and shared experience. I was afraid of running into bouts of loneliness, but with the presence of social media and ability to Facetime, home and the love and support of its inhabitants did not feel as distant as I expected. Everything was better the more open and honest I was with my fellow exchange students - everyone is in the same experience, and others might have been having their own challenging periods that they just needed someone to ask them about.

Professional Development

Going on exchange challenges one with a plethora of life skills that can be very beneficial when translated to a professional context. Embarking on an exchange requires a great amount of organisation, forward planning and courage. 
Moving to an entirely different place requires one to quickly adapt to new systems of norms, culture, communication, currency, timezones and lifestyle. Adapting to an unfamiliar university and corresponding mode of study adds an extra layer to this. 
Moving abroad requires a great deal of independence in thought and action. Simultaneously it warrants the ability to develop meaningful relationships, for the sake of necessity and of company.


There is one particular day that stands out to me as one of the most perfect days, and that epitomises many of the things that made Glasgow and exchange so great. During one of our final weeks in Glasgow, most of us had finished our exams and were staying and enjoying the city and each other’s company. It was mid May, and we were blessed with a spate of astoundingly sunny days. Glasgow weather is often dreary, grey and sprinkly, however this means that when the sun comes out, everything glows the brightest emerald green and wildflowers pop up like magic in every colour and corner. With the change of season changing the sunrise and sunset times, it felt like the days stretched on forever. Quite magic. One such sunny May day, I took a long walk out of the city with a few of my best friends, awed at every turn by the stunning landscape. We walked past rough Glaswegian football fans swearing at television screens, groups chanting for their teams and families with near indecipherable accents. We walked further into perfect green fields where Scottish coos languished in the sun, adorable hairy calves by their sides. We stayed awhile before returning to the park by our accommodation in the mid evening and sat upon the hill with a big group of our friends as the sun set. The light lingered as we played frisbee and guitar and snacked and chatted until almost midnight when all the light was gone and the chill crept in.  

I loved being in Glasgow, and loved the city for its fun and grungy character, lively music and arts scene, rough history, and the obvious pride, love and spirit of the people as Glaswegians and as Scots. I loved exchange here for all of these reasons, and for the diverse group of adventurous, interesting people Glasgow attracted into the one living space and demanded the adoration of.

Top tips

Most importantly, do it! Exchange is indescribably worthwhile in every way! 

There is a very high standard of education across universities in the UK, and UQ partners with many prestigious Russell Group institutions, of which Glasgow is one. There is also a fantastic university culture across the UK, so it would be hard to make a 'bad' choice of location.  

The experience of studying in Glasgow is probably the most distinctly Scottish exchange experience one can have. It has all of the benefits of studying in the UK - prestige, history, proximity to Europe, familiar language and relatively familiar culture - but with the overlay of gorgeous Scottish charm and fun. 

Top tips: 
- Comfy flat shoes, layerable clothes, a good umbrella 
- There are many very high quality op shops in the west end selling great winter gear - save space in your suitcase by buying cheaper, better quality stuff when you arrive 
- Perhaps hold off on booking too much travel for during semester until you get there - there is so much to do and see in the city, Scotland and the UK, and there is a good chance you'll be making friends you'd really like to take with you 
- Hire a car and drive north to the Isle of Skye! 
- Take advantage of opportunities to travel during mid semester break - it is long to account for local students' study requirements and Europe is just so close 
- Join a university society early on! 
- Go to a ceilidh and trad music nights - there are many regularly held in pubs around the city. The Ben Nevis and Sloans are great.  
- Keep an eye on Facebook for events and gigs - there are so, so many cool theme nights and interesting artists coming through Glasgow's amazing night scene all the time
- Keep a diary - you'll be so glad you did