Amy - City, University of London

B Arts
Semester 2, 2019
Life is short, go have some fun!

Academic experience

I saved my electives so that at City University I wouldn't be restricted by what classes I could choose. Same as at UQ, I studied 4 subjects, two political; American Foreign Policy, Myths and Mysteries in World Politics and two which were specifically designed for abroad students in London: Historic London and Performing Arts of London. The last two are what really made the academic experience special. Historic London allowed you to be guided around MANY different areas of London, which in the end expanded my knowledge of the city greatly and added enormously to my exchange; and performing arts took you to see a wide variety of shows which London is famously for having. 

The academic system itself I didn't find to be greatly different from UQ. It was strait forward and easy to follow, the only great difference was that they used a different referencing system and obviously it has different grades than we do, but they all were relative to UQs academic system. What was different was that attendance at all lectures was monitored and not all are recorded for you to watch later, so you need to be conscious of this if you're planning travel. 

Enrolment in classes was somewhat stressful, being that the abroad team at City organised most of it and due to time zones and being unfamiliar with the system it seemed like a big unknown. However, the abroad team was very considerate of any concerns or issues and did the best within their power to fix what they could. My biggest advice would be to go to all the welcome sessions they organise specifically for abroad students, its very comforting to meet others who are also away from home and it is a good way to initially makes some friends in the city and is quite stress free.

Personal experience

Overall, it is quite cliche, but my personal growth from exchange has more than made the experience worth it. London is such an exciting city, and you'll find that both those studying abroad and those who are local are always excited to do or see something because there is just so much for everyone. Friendships are easily made for this reason, with many other abroad students looking to see and experience as much as possible, all of whom were generally very excited to be there. Becoming familiar with London is surreal, I loved being in Piccadilly Circus with all the lights and theatres in particular; as well as being there around winter and Christmas time was quite literally magical. I got to travel a lot more than I expected, to Greece, Italy, France, Scotland and Ireland. Everything is just so close and accessible you'd be mad not to get out and have a look. Being able to study at another institution did also teach me to be a bit more adaptable too as it was new and different, which added to the excitement of the whole experience. Honestly you will come away with so much from exchange, whatever doubts you have and I assure you I had many, the personal experiences you gain are so well worth it.


Accommodation was the most difficult and frustrating part of organising my exchange. Firstly, London is an expensive city, there is no getting around that, spending half your budget on accommodation would not at all be out of the question. Secondly, the accommodation offered by the City university is minimal, it fills up super quickly so do not bank on getting a room with them. Thirdly, and most importantly, very few student accomodations will offer single semester stays. I opted to go with student accommodation because it offers greater security and facilities, however it took MONTHS to find a place to live. 

Don't let this put you off though, it took time but in the end there were third party groups affiliated with many student accommodations which do offer semester stays BUT, you do have to be cautious when booking through these third parties, take every step to ensure they are legitimate. I ended up booking through a company called 'GoBritanya' and lived at a residence called Chapter Islington, which was perfect for both Uni and London in general. Accommodation is infamously tricky in London so don't wait until the last minute and check the tube and bus routes that run near it to see if it suits your needs.


All together I would estimate I spent $18 000 including accommodation and travel on my exchange, as well as additional travel after my exchange which did up the cost. I set myself a budget of $500 a week and honestly living by yourself you will not spend this much every week. Some weeks you will spend more some you will spend less but having a budget will ensure you don't run out at the end of it. 

Transport in London is expensive,  but this is compensated by the fact groceries are comparatively cheap. Rent was the most expensive but that goes without saying. Entertainment in London varies, there are a lot of things you can do for free or at a minimal cost, however movies are a bit more expensive and seeing shows does cost a fair bit (but are well worth it in my opinion). 

Travel when compared to Australia is pretty affordable! Websites like Sky-scanner have great deals on flights especially if you book them a few weeks in advance, if you leave things to the last minute they will be more expensive. I was worried about money going into this exchange however I found things much more doable than I had originally thought. Taking both the historic London and Performing Arts class too meant that a lot of things I would have paid full price to see were either free or subsidised through the university so for that reason alone I would sign up for those classes.


By far the biggest challenge for me was applying and organising my exchange rather than the actual exchange itself. It can seem a bit overwhelming but if you put the time and effort into getting it right and organised before you get there it is so much easier once you start. London is a massive city and can be quite overwhelming when you get there at first, but that is also what makes it so fun. It is a challenge being without the knowledge you have of your own home, like what doctor do I go to if I'm sick etc, but the university is very helpful with all that and there is always someone to talk to to voice your concerns.

Professional Development

I have greater confidence in my ability as a student as well as my adaptability to new environments as a result of my exchange. You are forced into a new world away from what you know and as a consequence you will grow and change as a person. Having to do my studies differently made me more conscious of my work due to the different standards needing to be met. Being at a different uni both allowed me and forced me to make new friends, some from all over the world, which gave me greater confidence socially and enriched my experience greatly. Essentially, my exchange made me feel more assured of both myself and my abilities, which in a professional setting is essential. I think without exchange I would have been far more timid and reserved, delaying my professional development.


When I think of my exchange to me it is all one big highlight. I really genuinely loved it, getting to live and know London was a dream come true for me, as well as travelling to places like Athen, Rome and Paris. Despite some challenges I have come away from my exchange viewing it as a positive and beautiful experience as a whole.

Top tips

Be. Organised. Put the time in before you go to get as much in order as you can so that once you're there you won't be so overwhelmed. Set yourself a budget and stick to it, always keep and eye on your finances. Be open to all the opportunities offered at the university, it is the best way to make friends which will enrich your experience. Learn how to time manage both assessment and fun, there is so much to do and see in London that it can all get away from you sometimes;. My biggest tip would be to just do it and embrace all the opportunities you have.