Abigail - Loughborough University

B Exercise and Nutrition Science
Semester 2, 2019
I have never felt such freedom to grow as a person and as a student. Cannot speak more highly of this experience!

Academic experience

As a BENS student, I studied 5 sport-focused modules as an equivalent of 4 UQ courses. These included Research Skills, Motor Control of Sports Movements, Biomechanics of Sports Movements, Human Performance at Environmental Extremes and Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviour and Health. I enjoyed the aspect of heavily practical learning at Loughborough University, as attendance to all lectures, labs and workshops were recorded. I found the cohort interaction quite strong as a result, and I really enjoyed the group assignments. However, the heavily weighted final exams were quite foreign to me, similar to the different marking schemes. Nonetheless, I found it easy to study for the exams given the extensive study period allocated, so I felt prepared! Also, the lecturers have no issue helping out international students in explaining the logistics of modules further.

Enrolment and registration were a little difficult, as I was restricted to a specific UQ course outline to meet requirements for Masters. However, all interactions with Loughborough were fantastic, the exchange office there were extremely helpful in providing alternatives and explaining protocol. My coordinator checked in with me regularly throughout the semester and gave useful advice for student and travel life.

Personal experience

What didn't I gain from the experience! I travelled solo for a couple of weeks through Turkey, Italy, Croatia, Greece, Germany, Austria, France and Switzerland, which was the most incredible trip. The centrality of the UK meant I could go for weekend trips to Paris, or to Barcelona (with one of my new friends) at the drop of a hat! I also travelled a lot throughout the UK with locals and other exchange students and felt I had a greater grasp of the country and its culture by the end of my exchange.

I met family and friends while overseas and travelled more throughout England, Netherlands, Denmark and the USA. I loved my 7 other flatmates—all international students who wanted to make the most of our time at Loughborough. As well as this, the UK students I met through various events gave me a lot of insight into British culture and history. All friendships I made I know will last a lifetime!


I chose to immerse myself in university life by living on campus in a mixed flat of 8 students, with shared bathrooms, kitchen and common room with my own room to study and sleep. I loved this experience and felt really at home there. I also enjoyed cooking my own food as the amount of travel meant I needed flexibility in this respect.

My advice to future students is to buy sheets, cooking utensils and food once you get there, as the university towns often have countless op shops or discount stores to buy them cheaply. I made the wrong decision of buying a kit supplied by a company that worked with the university, but I didn't use a lot of it and it came quite late! So just buy them once you get there, for much cheaper too. Food shopping can be super easy to do once you understand their supermarkets and process, so take some time the first time you go. I mainly used the farmers' markets as I could have a nice chat with the growers and get some time outside with friends. It turned into a nice social outing which I have many fond memories of!

I travelled with carry-on before I went up to the UK, and I had my big bag full of winter clothes shipped over to friends we have in London. I highly recommend doing this as it saved a lot of trouble while travelling alone throughout this period!


Accommodation costs were paid as a refundable room bond (150GBP) and just under 2000 GBP for the duration of my exchange. I found this quite reasonable as regular cleaning and basic supplies (desk lamp, toilet paper etc) were provided.

Food can be costly if you shop at Marks and Spencer and other more expensive supermarkets, but I stuck to smaller grocers and the farmers' markets. I spent about 10-15 GBP per week on groceries, with other money going to food when eating out.

Transport was very cheap if you know what to look for. I travelled by budget bus lines like Megabus and National Express, costing sometimes only 5 pounds to get to London from Loughborough! The trains are quicker but much more expensive, however, services like Splitticketing allowed me to find the same route for much cheaper (it just splits the tickets into separate journeys!). Budget airlines got me to and from Spain for around 120GBP, you just have to allow time for delays on either end. But I didn't experience any myself!

For travelling, I stuck to Airbnbs when travelling with friends and family, or hostels if on my own. Usually, I would have spent anywhere between $15-30 per night at a nice hostel which supplied facilities for cooking. For travelling it really depends on what you want to do—museums and tourist attractions have entry costs you might want to research prior to leaving, just to get an idea what you will need for spending. I budgeted food for the day and also just recreational spending if I knew there was a place I would want some souvenirs (Greece!).


My greatest challenge was undeniably the weather. I am fully a summer, sun person and the constant dreary weather had a greater effect on me than I would like to admit. However, I made the most of the blue sunny days that did happen to appear, by going for walks with friends to get coffee or a meal, or just exploring the campus. I also chose to travel to Spain and coastal France when I needed some sea air! Also, it's not forever and Australia is here for when you get back. 
I also really missed my family and friends back home, but knowing that I had made many new connections while overseas was comforting. Facetime became my best friend!

Professional Development

I like to think I developed better social skills and acuity in the sense of talking to strangers. Striking up conversations with people you happen across makes me feel more comfortable conversing with anyone, and as a future healthcare worker I see this as a valuable skill.
I also have more confidence in myself, and that I have something of value to give to the world. I don't feel as young and sheltered after being on my own for 6 months. I had to navigate through my own problems and emerged with a new sense of independence.


The highlight of my experience was undoubtedly the winter break—I got to travel to Bristol with a new UK friend and see her way of living in southern England. I then travelled to London to see old friends (who I stay with any time I go to London), and through Austria, Germany, Switzerland and France to meet up with friends from home as well as new friends made in my travels. The freedom of travel, knowing that I had Loughborough to come back to at the end, was exciting!

Top tips

Do as much as you can! This is the time to challenge yourself both as a person and as a student. I learned more than I would be back at home, and I like to believe it's due to the number of events, activities and trips I took part in. Enjoy the adventure and don't stress about the expenses—in a year's time, you won't regret that extra little trip to Spain, I assure you!