Victoria - City, University of London

B Science
Semester 1, 2015

Academic experience

At City I studied a mixture of core psychology courses and arts/social science electives. One of my electives was ‘Performing Arts in London’, which I highly recommend if you are a theatre lover or just want to see some live performances for a great price!

For my core courses, I found the academic system very different, particularly when it came to exams. Previously, I had only taken multiple choice/short answer exams at a university level. At City, however, all my exams consisted of essay questions. I found the assignments a lot more challenging to complete, as I was not used to the marking system.

I would recommend asking your lecturer to explain the marking criteria to you, as this would have helped me significantly.

Personal experience

First and foremost, the experience helped me to become more independent, particularly when it came to travelling.

Besides exploring London, I was also able to explore a lot of Europe and visited places I hadn't thought of visiting before such as Scandinavia and Switzerland. I also learnt a lot about other cultures from the people I was living with, as they were from such places as USA, South Korea, and Poland. The whole exchange was a constant learning experience.

Accommodation

I lived at one of City’s halls of residence called Liberty Court. The location was the best thing about living there. It was only a 10-minute walk from the University and was only a 15-minute walk from the heart of London. In fact, as I was walking back from University each day, I could see St Pauls and the Shard on the horizon.

My advice for future students about housing would be to find somewhere with a good location. In my opinion, it is better to pay that little bit extra to not have to travel too far, especially given the price of travel in London is quite high compared to Brisbane.

Budget

Compared to Brisbane, things such as food, clothing and alcohol are a lot cheaper, but transport and accommodation are more expensive.
Food can be extremely cheap if you shop at the right places; Iceland and Tesco for example. Transport in London was quite cheap – a bus trip anywhere in the city costs £1.50 and a tube trip costs £2.30. Transport outside of the city costs a lot more, however.
Costs can be reduced significantly by buying a student oyster, and 16-25 railcard.

Travelling can be relatively cheap if you book some time in advance. Flight prices go up significantly the longer you leave it to book so it is a good idea to plan your trips as soon as you can.

I budgeted £7000 (including accommodation costs, excluding flights).

Academic development and employability

Participation in an exchange has definitely enhanced my academic development and employability. Being able to learn and be assessed in a new style will be of great benefit to me, should I ever have to take exams in that way in the future.

Whilst on exchange, I was very lucky to be able to get research experience with one of the psychology professors at the university. This not only taught me a lot about the particular area she was researching but also meant I gained contacts in the UK, should I return there in the future.

Highlight

Aside from being able to see all my family again, the single highlight of my experience was the day I finished my last exam.

I was silly and left all my sightseeing and souvenir shopping to the last week, so I went on a jam-packed tourist adventure after I finished my exams. I felt like a child at Disneyland that day, although I definitely recommend spreading your sightseeing adventures over your whole time and not the last week!

At the end of the day, I fulfilled my childhood dream and went to see S Club 7 in concert, which was as amazing as it was a decade ago! The broad range of theatre productions and music concerts you can attend is definitely one of the greatest things about London.

Top tips

  • Definitely go, if you can
  • Even if an advisor initially tells you it can’t be done, try to work out courses for yourself, as it might still be possible.
  • Plan trips early and book in advance to save money and prevent yourself from missing out on visiting places you really want to.
  • Take earlier exams if you can, to leave room at the end of your exchange for travelling.
  • Try to take as many electives as possible so you can be a bit more lenient with how much you study.
  • Prepare banking options before you go, as you probably won’t be able to open a bank account whilst you are there.
  • Don’t EVER think ‘Oh I’ll do that later on, I’m here for 6 months!’ The time goes by a lot faster than you think and before you know it you are busy with uni work travelling, or maybe even having to return home a few weeks earlier than you planned.
  • When booking flights for travelling, be mindful of what airport you are flying into. If one flight is cheaper but it flies into an airport miles away from the city centre, it isn’t worth it.
  • When travelling, make sure at least someone you are with can use their phone data overseas. Google Maps makes navigating around strange cities an awful lot easier.
  • Finally, make friends with people in your lectures. It's great making friends with all the other exchange students but the best way to learn about a city is through the locals.
Victoria - City, University of London