Ebony - City, University of London

B Journalism/ B Arts
Semester 2, 2016

Academic experience

At City University, I studied two International Politics courses, IP2019 Transnational Social Movements and IP3013 The Global Politics of Forced Migration, along with two Arts electives, LA2017 Performing Arts in London and SG1019 Criminology for 30 ECTS = 8 units.

I enjoyed engaging in a different academic system because I had access to interesting courses that were relevant to my degree but were not offered at UQ, such as IP3013. LA2017 was also a unique course because it funded class trips to experience English theatre, ballet and opera.

While abroad, I faced some challenges juggling study with my social life. There is so much to experience while abroad that sometimes it can be difficult to prioritise academics. I overcame this challenge primarily through time management, but by also organising group study sessions with my course mates, which allowed me to combine study and socialising productively.

Personal experience

The experiences I gained from exchange are endless. I met so many interesting people, made new friends, travelled Europe, discovered new interests, developed my independence, and much more.

Accommodation

I lived in Liberty Hall, a student hall filled with students from City University and only a five minute walk from the main campus.

The best part was my hallway was made up of other exchange students, so I made friends with people from all over the world.

For future students, I would definitely recommend student halls for the convenience and social opportunities. My exchange experience was a lot more enjoyable because I felt comfortable in my accommodation. It is also important to look into accommodation for central London early because there are limited availabilities.

Budget

London is a very expensive city, so a budget plan is essential. I would recommend saving up to 12-15,000 AUD.

Rent prices can vary, but for student halls, you are usually asked to pay upfront.

In terms of food, London has so much choice for eating out and you’ll be able to learn for yourself what places have the best value for money. I strongly recommend trying out Borough Markets though. As well, farmers markets and supermarkets, such as Tescos and Iceland, are more affordable sources of groceries.

London has a really extensive transport system, which you can use by topping up an Oyster card (equivalent to a go card) with money. It's good to know though that the tube can cost you up to $5 AUD for every trip, while the bus is $3 AUD regardless of the distance you travel and you are only charged for one trip within an hour. There are also options to invest in concession Oyster cards or railway passes, but I believe they’re only worth it if you’re using the train frequently or staying longer than six months. Still, London is also easy to get around by foot too.

For entertainment, there are a lot of student promotions out there but you should still set aside money for weekly activities. There is always something going on in London, whether themed events at Spitalfields markets or Winter Wonderland, but almost everything will have some sort of cover charge.

When travelling in England a cheap transport option can be Megabus or National Express. When travelling further throughout Europe, try to book with budget airlines like RyanAir or Easyjet. Flight prices will also vary depending on which London airports you chose to fly in to/out from.

Also, unless you are staying longer than six months, it can be pretty difficult to set up a bank account. I advise organising a travel card with your Brisbane bank.

Professional development and employability

As I’m studying International Relations, exchange has allowed me to engage in a new international context, which confirmed my passion for my study. It has enhanced my interpersonal skills, taught me how to handle situations out of my comfort zone, and has given me the motivation to pursue work internationally.

Highlights

It’s very difficult to pick one specific event, but I think my highlight was finishing my last exam and getting to celebrate with the group of friends I’d made on exchange at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.

Top Tips

  • Definitely apply! It’s an incredible experience.
  • Explore your host city as much as possible. Traveling Europe is amazing, but it’s worth taking time to get to know London for all it has to offer too. 
  • Apply for early exams if possible, because it gives you more time in your exchange to travel. 
  • Google maps will make everything easier.
  • If you’re around during Autumn-Winter, please invest in a good winter coat.
Ebony - City, University of London