Charlotte - University of Edinburgh

B Engineering/Mathematics
Semester 2, 2019
Edinburgh has convinced me that it's the best small city in the world.

Academic experience

I didn't have any general electives as part of my degree structure which greatly limited my course options, however luckily I was able to make it work at my first preference of university (which meant that I couldn't complete a major as part of my Economics degree). This also meant all the courses I had to take were fourth year/honours courses!

By the time I was accepted at the Uni of Edinburgh, most of the politics courses were full (lecturers also took all tutorials so course sizes were small). I didn't get the preferred courses I put on my study plan, but I was able to enrol in courses which still satisfied my degree progression. Full-time study consists of three courses; I studied Economics of Asymmetric Information, International Politics of Money and US Foreign Policy. All these courses were super interesting and comparable to UQ in content/load and assessment format; however, the marking was significantly more stringent. Students are not expected to be able to score over 80% on assessment and only 40% is needed to pass the course.

Personal experience

Exchange was the first time I had both lived out of home and lived in a different country, so I had the excitement and pressure of figuring things out for myself. I learnt how to cook regularly and budget, and take care of myself when I got a debilitating case of the flu (thanks NHS for the free doctors and medication).

I made the most amazing friends; they really were the best part of exchange. Most of my close friends lived in my apartment building on South Clerk St and I got really close with some of my flatmates too. I saw my best friends every day and we bonded over cards, boardgames, gin and lots of stupid jokes. We also dealt with mice, and vented about our uni courses and flatmates together. We made plans to catch up in New York even while we were on exchange so that saying goodbye wouldn't be as hard (it was still very hard).

I was fortunate enough to visit ten countries, made possible by cheap Ryanair plane fares and great friends to travel with. Getting up at 3am for flights was well and truly worth it when we reached our destination. Barcelona, Brussels and Northern Ireland were particular highlights.

Edinburgh has convinced me that it's the best small city in the world. It is so welcoming, walkable, historical and beautiful. Arthur's Seat and Holyrood Park, Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, gin distilleries, shetland cows, beaches - it really has something for everyone and felt like home to me in no time.


The Uni of Edinburgh doesn't have a campus per se, as much as university buildings clustered in different areas of the city. Throughout the city you can also find apartment buildings owned by the university, as well as a dormitory complex further out of the city. Exchange students are guaranteed accommodation (but only if you apply properly and accept your offer in time!). It's definitely the best option to stay at university accommodation.

I lived at South Clerk St, which was an apartment building located in the South Side. It was just around the corner from The Meadows (a lovely grassy field which with cherry blossoms, tennis courts and people barbecuing on sunny days). It was only 10 mins walk from uni and had plenty of food and grocery options nearby. Apart from a few mice living in the building, it had everything I needed (including the best view from my window into the neighbouring garden and their chickens/ducks). I had four other flatmates and we shared two bathrooms and a full kitchen. I'm glad I picked the self-catered option as it was fun learning to cook and experiment. The flat was far enough away from the Cowgate (equivalent to the Valley) and since I faced away from the street, it was very quiet. It had a common room and coin laundry too.


$4000 on rent. Food and groceries costs in Edinburgh are fairly equivalent to Australia. My apartment was 10 minutes walk from university and 25 minutes walk to the city centre, so no frequent transport costs except occasional buses (£1.70/trip) and JustEat hire bikes. Edinburgh is very walkable though.

$4000 on travel (flights/accom). A return bus ticket to the airport was £7. Ryanair flights could be as cheap as $30 to get over to mainland Europe.

Take half as many clothes and twice as much money.


The biggest challenges I faced were solo travelling and managing the university workload.

Especially with a marking approach different to UQ's, I put in WAY more effort into my assessment than I expected and despite only needing to pass my courses. I did well overall but due to assignments being large in size (one of my finals was 80%) and very difficult, I spent heaps of time studying. If I went again, I would put in less effort even though the large weightings raised the costs and risk.

I did a week of solo travel through Italy which was fun but I really missed the new friends I made and had absolute responsibility if anything went wrong. It was overwhelming but rewarding. It really put things in perspective and I stopped taking my friends for granted. I was so thrilled to go travelling with them again later in the semester.

Professional Development

Apart from the technical knowledge I picked up in my courses, I learnt so much about myself, the UK culture and heaps of problem-solving skills. I now know that being open to opportunities really brings good things into your life - whether it's friends or experiences. I am more independent, self-sufficient and well-rounded after exchange.


My friends. Everything was better when I did it with them.

Ialso made two videos of my exchange experience:

Top tips

DO IT! Yes it's expensive and not easy but it's so worth it.