Amelia - University of Edinburgh

B Science
Semester 1, 2023
I absolutely adore Scotland and have grown to love every aspect of it: the people, the accents, and even the food.


I’ve always known that I would like to study overseas but given the fact that international student fees are quite expensive, I didn’t think it would be possible. A semester abroad studying at the University of Edinburgh was a great alternative, as I was still able to gain the same experience of a new culture, without the financial burden of completing my entire degree overseas.

Personal Development

The six months I spent in Edinburgh have been a transformative experience for my personal growth. I have grown in all facets of my life, in terms of my independence, self-confidence, self-discipline in regard to my academic life and open-mindedness. Studying abroad through UQ gave me the opportunity to experience another university and country’s culture. I absolutely adore Scotland and have grown to love every aspect of it: the people, the accents, and even the food (including a delicacy known as a pizza crunchie – essentially a deep-fried microwave pizza slathered in salt and vinegar). The close proximity to mainland Europe made trips to other countries extremely doable and I was able to experience travelling solo for the first time. I was able to visit 20 countries in 7 months. Scotland remains my favourite. If anything, living and studying abroad has acted as a reminder to me that the world has so much to offer, and it remains my goal to experience as much of it as I can in my academic, professional, and personal life as I can.

Academic Development

During the semester, I studied three courses (each 20 credits each to come to a total of 60 credits – equal to 8 UQ credits). As I am a third year Biomedical Science student at UQ, I had to study two third-year level courses at UoE (which are their Junior Honours Level courses – all the degrees in Scotland are 4 year long Honours courses). I chose Applied Pharmacology and Reproductive Biology as they were both subjects that were not offered at my home university and I shared a personal interest in them. I also chose Scottish Studies 1B as my general elective, which provided me with an insightful and holistic introduction to Scotland’s history, culture, and language. This was my favourite course, I felt like it really helped my understanding and appreciation of the country I was in. While the UK and Australian university systems are fairly similar, I definitely experienced learning curves. Minor things, such as not checking whether in-text citations are included in the word count, differed from the guidelines I was used to at UQ, and as a result I lost easy marks. I personally didn’t find the coursework more rigorous, but the marking and format was different. In the UK, a ‘first honours’ (our GPA 7 equivalent) is anything between 70% and 80%. This definitely took some time to adjust to, and receiving my first assessment feedback came as quite a shock until one of my UK friends explained it.   The STEM subjects at the UoE were far more written based than UQ, and had more essay style assessments, as well as exams that were pretty much solely long-answer questions (a far cry from the 50% multiple choice I was used to). Furthermore, while long-answer exam questions in UQ typically lay emphasis on being concise and straight to the point, those at UoE were far more Humanities style, which meant I had to reteach myself how to write like that. Overall, I would say that the workload during the semester was very manageable, provided that you stay on top of the weekly content and do not leave it to the last minute (trust me it’s not fun trying to watch a semester’s worth of content right before a 70% exam).

Professional Development

Aside from the knowledge I gained from my university courses, I gained heaps of valuable experience in building my independence, communication skills and problem solving. As someone who has spent most of their life in Brisbane, it really made me appreciate that the world is so much bigger than you think it is. Being open minded to new experiences and new friends has completely changed my perspective on my life, relationships, university experience and future career. While life in Edinburgh was a dream 90% of the time, it didn’t come without challenges. The freedom of living independently was incredibly fun, but trying to find time to practise self-care when there is always so much going on was hard. It was definitely difficult for me to live in the present and take in the incredible experience of being on exchange in Edinburgh when there were always new things to look forward to.


Before I left, I calculated my estimated costs and made a master spreadsheet on Google Sheets (prefer this to Excel because I could access it from my phone or iPad on the go!). I kept track of all expenses using this. Because I already worked remotely for one of my part-time jobs, I was able to mostly continue that as usual while I was overseas. In total, my exchange (and travel) cost approximately $25,000 AUD. In Edinburgh, I spent about $15,000. This includes semester trips to Glasgow, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Dublin. Flights from Australia $2500 Accommodation (Mylnes Court)  £3000 / $5700 Food and groceries: £50-75 per week / $1500 Buses and trains: £350 / $700 Activities / semester travel: £1750 / $3400 Miscellaneous: £100 / $200 Travel insurance: $1000 I only shopped at Lidl which is generally much cheaper than other supermarkets. I also got the Young Scot Card when I arrived, which is free bus travel in Scotland for Under 22s. I invested in a 16-25 railcard, which gives you 30% off train travel. At Easter I went to the USA for 2 weeks which cost $1500 total. After my exchange semester ended, I did 8 weeks of travelling. In my 3-week interrailing trip we visited Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Krakow, Warsaw, Vienna, Budapest, Bled, Venice, Milan, Barcelona, and Ibiza. In total, this cost about €2000 / $3500 including the interrail pass. I then spent four weeks in Greece, Italy, and Croatia and spent around $5000 in total. Travel was easily my biggest expense. My advice is booking well in advance, using Skyscanner for cheap flights, Hostelworld for cheap accommodation, and exploring train options instead of flights. Ryanair flights can be as little as £15 return if you're willing to pack light. Travelling in the off-season (ie. not summer) can save you so much money. International transaction fees add up, so look at getting a bank travel card, Wise or Revolut for your time overseas.


I received a $7000 OS-Help loan from the government and a $2000 grant from UQ. I used this funding to cover the cost of my international flights, accommodation, and some of my living costs. It was extremely beneficial as it meant I wasn’t worrying so much about my financial situation and could enjoy the experience more.


The university offers one accommodation option to everyone who applies for exchange. You can preference your top choices, so I did lots of research on the different options based on price, location, and reviews. I got my first choice, and personally think I hit the jackpot with it. I lived in a 5-person flat in Mylnes Court. It’s in a little alley right off the Royal Mile in Old Town. It was a 10-minute walk to campus, 5-10 minute walk to George Street (basically Queen St equivalent), 2 minute walk to the Castle, 5 minute walk to Cowgate (their version of the Valley) and 5 minute walk to Waverley train station. It was also so close to all the major bus stops. Being in close proximity to the centre of the city was absolutely fantastic, and I highly recommend staying at Mylnes. The building is centuries old and has so much character. Aside from the mouse infestation (I just pretended they didn’t exist) and the one time a pigeon nested in our kitchen, it was the best flat ever. Most of the rooms have a great view and are decently sized compared to other more expensive and modern accommodations. The only con (or pro – depending on how you look at it), is that you hear bagpipers playing on the Mile pretty much every day. Personally, I really enjoyed it. My flatmates were four other international students, including a fellow exchange student. One of my flatmates was the RA for the building. My flatmates became my really good friends. We had fortnightly flat dinners, and our living room became the designated location for pre’s every weekend. I had heard some horror stories from my exchange friends about their flatmates, but I was very lucky. My flatmates were very clean, respectful, excellent cooks, and most importantly great people.


New friends. My highlights from exchange in Edinburgh are the experiences I shared with people who were strangers to me just six months ago. Whether it was swimming in freezing cold water at Portobello Beach or watching the sunset and sharing a bottle of £5 Sainsbury’s Prosecco on Calton Hill, these memories are the ones that stand out to me. Not only was I able to experience Scottish culture, but so many more through the friendships I made.

Advice/Top Tips

Absolutely do it! I’ve learnt so much about myself and the world around me. If I could do the whole experience again, I wouldn’t change a thing.