Asawari - Imperial College London

B Engineering
Semester 1, 2019
take every opportunity you have to try something new and exciting

Academic experience

UQ's Global Experiences program gave me the invaluable opportunity to study at one of the best universities. I chose Imperial College London not only for its academic prestige (Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London consistently ranks 1st in the UK, along with Cambridge), but also because of its central location in one of the most happening places in the world. It was also one of the few partner universities offering a year-long exchange.

I undertook exchange during my 2nd and 3rd years at UQ, majoring in Chemical and Biological engineering. I found that my equivalent classes at Imperial were a mix of predominantly 1st-3rd year and some 4th year (Masters Level) courses. Some of the most enjoyable courses was the Pilot Plant (a 2 week project where students operate part of a Carbon Capture Pilot Plant), and Knowledge Laboratory (range of long-term design-focused experimental projects).

The biggest challenge was adjusting to the teaching style. Courses tend to rely on lectures, which are sometimes run as problem classes so with the exception of 1st year courses, there are no tutorials. However, a plus was that all lectures are recorded!

Personal experience

Being so well-connected to Mainland Europe, London is an excellent exchange destination if you are looking to travel. I found that travelling was extremely affordable and convenient - last minute deals for impromptu weekends away are not hard to find at all! 

Imperial also has a tonne of societies and clubs, and most students are very actively involved in them so its a great way to make friends. They are also a way to meet people from different backgrounds! Some of my favourites were the ERASMUS Club (they run a lot of pub crawls, dinners and even treasure hunts around London) and the Fellwanderers Hiking Club (a student-led group who organise short day trips out of London, weekends away to famous National Parks all around the UK and also international hiking trips in the longer breaks).


For the entire year, I lived in Imperial Halls. My halls (Woodward & The Costume Store Buildings) were located in North Acton, about a 20 minute tube ride to the north side to Notting Hill Gate and about 30 minutes from the City of London.

My typical route to uni would take about 35 minutes, consisting of a tube ride to Notting Hill Gate and a (stunning) 15-min walk through Hyde Park. Although further than other halls to uni, the biggest advantage of living at these halls were (1) significantly lower rent saving about 2000+ pounds per year, (2) the central line is literally across the road from you, which frequents every 1-3 minutes, connects to almost every other line in London, and runs late hours on Fridays and Saturdays, (3) modern, ensuite rooms and more private shared spaces.


Many people might not even consider London, thinking the living expenses can be way off budget. I can safely tell you that this is not true: on a student budget, you can quickly learn the best places to shop, and make the most of every pound. There are deals everywhere: West-End theatre tickets have insane last-minute deals ($20 to see Hamilton anyone?), budget airlines have the greatest fluctuations in pricing ($30 to get to many popular destinations in Europe), unlimited travel passes to get around London, and student discounts in essential stores like Boots.


The prospect of being solely responsible for any unfortunate events like losing your wallet, or missing busses/trains while travelling was initially pretty daunting. I think this improves over time as you learn to make and trust your decisions, and realise that something that seemed daunting at the beginning doesn't scare you so much anymore.

Professional Development

Since returning, I have found that my experience abroad has enhanced my employability. It's not just about having something to put on the resume. Exchange will expose you to many new situations, which develop your confidence, independence and ability to adapt. Employers value these characteristics, and they will see them come across in your interviews and in your work. Your experiences also give you cool things to talk about in behavioural-based recruitment stages!


Looking back, there are too many highlights I could list. For now, I think the most significant one is just the opportunity to live in London for a full year. Living somewhere for a whole year gives you time to learn the ins and outs of the city, and call it home.

It also means that you build solid friendships, which really will last you a whole lifetime. Even though you're in an English speaking country, everyone around you comes from a variety of different backgrounds and cultures, and its really fun to learn and immerse yourself in their different cultures.

Top tips

1. Plan ahead if you can, start thinking about your exchange options as early as 1st or 2nd year, so you give yourself the best chance of making the most of this opportunity.
2. Don't give up. The paperwork, the study plans, meetings with your advisor - although it seems like a lot of work at the time, it is 200% worth the pain.
3. Don't hold yourself back. Don't let fear or nerves get the best of you. Instead, take every opportunity you have to try something new and excited for all things coming your way!