Kiana - University College London

B Science
Semester 2, 2019
My experience was unlike anything I had ever imagined.

Academic experience

As part of my science course I was required to study PHOL0003 and PHOL0005 which would be credited as BIOM2012 and a second year science elective. Moreover, I chose to study two elective courses including HART0023 and BIOL0022. Regarding PHOL0003 and PHOL0005, they were very similar to UQ courses in terms of content, although the amount of content was less as the term length was shorter. The assessments were quite forgiving for exchange students. PHOL0003 consisted of two reports and an open book online quiz. PHOL0005 assessment included an exam on the practicals and two lectures. HART0023 and BIOL0022 were very different than UQ courses as they did not rely on a textbook and were more research/ critical thinking based. They both consisted of two essays, whilst BIOL0022 also consisted of three assessed tutorials. 
The enrolment process was quite confusing to begin with as we were required to choose courses prior to starting at UCL. Hence, it was hard to choose courses based on the limited knowledge we had about them. Moreover, finding courses that did not clash in terms of timetable scheduling was very difficult as there was only ever one timetabled hour for every course and the lectures were not recorded. 
Despite the difficulty in choosing modules, the professors were very kind and helped everyone choose courses (modules) that they wanted. Moreover, most exchange students got the courses that they wanted and hence enrolments were finalised very quickly for exchange students.

Personal experience

I gained so many new experiences by going on exchange. I was able to travel around Europe both with my mum and with my friends. I also made friendships that I am sure I will keep for a lifetime. But I think the area of my life which developed the most whilst I was abroad was my self-esteem. I think living away from home and in a completely new and foreign environment made me realise that I could sustain myself and even thrive in those situations.


I booked accommodation through UCL, and was allocated to a UNITE accommodation known as ST Pancras Way. Although initially I was apprehensive about living in the Camden/ Kings cross area, I loved the location of my accommodation. It was a 20-25 minute walk to UCL and being located near the central train station meant travelling around London was very simple. My accommodation was also located near many supermarkets including Lidl, Aldi, Sainsburys, Tesco metro, M&S, wholefoods and several asian grocers. This was perfect as I was self-catered. I loved being self-catered as it gave me the opportunity to experiment with different meals. I would definitely recommend using UCL to book accommodation as most of the friends I made during my exchange period were flatmates.


Although everyone assumes London is very expensive, I would say that groceries were cheaper than Australia. I spent around 15-30 pounds a week on groceries depending on the amount of food that I was eating. As I was living in a relatively new accommodation with an en-suite, I paid 258 pounds a week. Moreover as my accommodation was close to UCL and other locations of London, I did not pay much for the tube. I also bought a rail-card for 30 pounds which meant that every tube ride I took was discounted from 2.40 pounds to 1.60 pounds as well as travel within the UK being discounted. London is also expensive when it comes to musicals, hence, I only went to one musical for the experience. However, a cheap form of entertainment is going to watch a play at the Globe theatre.


Since the culture of England is similar to Australia, I did not experience culture shock so much as I experienced a sense of longing for home. I overcame this feeling by looking to my newfound friendships to remind me of the fun that I was having in London. Moreover, I struggled to put myself out there and look for experiences, as I became comfortable being with my flatmates and playing card games. But in my last two weeks in London, I pushed myself to go out every day to new locations and experience new things.

Professional Development

I wouldn't say I gained anything rather I developed so much of my personality. I developed my independence, resilience and ability to connect with people. Being thrown into a different environment without knowing anyone, meant that I had to connect on a deeper level with people very quickly. Living in London was the first time in my adult life where my friends weren't just made for me from mutual friends, but that I made myself. Hence, giving me the confidence to know that I can acclimatise in any situation. I think this is extremely beneficial because in my professional career it is likely that colleagues will change constantly and hence it is important to be able to make friendships with your new colleagues instead of relying on the friendships you already have.


The highlight of my experience was going to Brighton with all of my flatmates in the first few weeks of living together as it was a real bonding experience. Being with my friends and exploring a beautiful beach city was extremely fun and very movie like as we sat on the beach and played card games, slept and talked about life. That trip set the foundations for our friendship and future trips together.

Top tips

I would say to choose carefully which city you are wanting to go to on exchange and I think going with people that you know may be beneficial as you could go travelling with them. Although I did not go with any close friends, I was very lucky to find flat mates who are very like-minded. Moreover, I think you should just be willing to make the most of your experience and say "yes" to everything even if you are scared. Looking back I am glad that I did most things once and I am happy I was able to experience a different way of living.