Mitchell - Imperial College London

B Engineering
Semester 2, 2015 & Semester 1, 2016

Academic experience

Through the opportunities provided through UQ Abroad I was fortunate enough to study for an academic year at Imperial College London; a university consistently ranking in the world’s best, with the Civil Engineering Department ranking 1st in the UK in The Guardian University Guide 2017. I chose to attend Imperial College for both its location within the centre of London, and due to its high academic standards.
The teaching style and methodology at Imperial College was very different to what I had been used to at home. Along with world class lectures who are at the forefront of their fields, the curriculum focuses on independent learning and collaboration with other students in your cohort. With a much smaller year group than at UQ, it was very easy to meet new people. The Civil Engineering Student Society also hosts events such as presentations by lectures and quiz nights which strengthens the community atmosphere of the department. 

Personal experience

The proximity to Europe also allowed unrivalled travel throughout my time abroad. Whether it was a weekend trip to visit another UQ Student on exchange, or taking a few weeks to travel up through Italy; experiencing different cultures and trying to learn a different language every few days allowed me to appreciate the diversity and history that exists within such a small continent. Travelling internationally both in groups and solo also allows you to meet new people in every place you visit; however wherever you go there's always a few Aussies travelling (identifiable by the unmistakable accent).

Accommodation

Living in London can be daunting, however whilst on exchange I stayed in a Student Hall located in Waterloo (right behind the London Eye). Students in these halls are mainly Freshers (first years); but I met people from all over the UK, Europe, and the globe. Whilst a short tube ride to College in the morning was unavoidable, being walking distance from Trafalgar Square and the West End meant you were never far from the cultural heart of the city. 
Within a few weeks I began to consider myself an honorary Londoner. The city has a variety of different areas all located within a 30 minute tube ride from each other; the glamour and wealth of Mayfair, the restaurants and theatres in Soho, the skyscrapers and banking district of Canary Wharf, and the pop-ups and hipster coffee houses in Brixton. 

Budget

Whilst London is considered one of the most expensive cities in the world; you learn where to shop and eat to maximise every pound you have. By the end of the year I was able to recite every student deal and when/where they were offered; the best way to get cheaper tickets to theatre on the West End; and able to navigate cheap European airlines and make the most of their allowed carry-on baggage. Living expenses through the rest of the UK and continental Europe is generally much cheaper than London, however with careful planning and budgeting a student can still easily live and enjoy what the city has to offer. 

Professional development and employability 

Overall on my time abroad I have learned much more than just technical information through the university. The experience of travel has opened my eyes to a small fraction of the world’s cultures and allowed me to meet a diverse range of people from all different backgrounds. For anyone considering going on exchange, be it to Imperial College, London, or just in general, I highly recommend it as not only does it broaden your academic horizons through the UQ Abroad program but also allows to live and experience a culture that is vastly different to you're used to.

Highlights

Being overseas for 10 months, it's hard to choose just one highlight. One of the most memorable times on exchange was travelling on the CivSoc International Tour 2016 to Naples. Every year the Imperial College Civil Society takes 90 students to a European city for 5 days visiting a local university, having a site visit on a local project, and experiencing the culture of the city and area. Whilst in Naples we visited the University of Naples Federico II who took us on a site visit of the Naples Metro Expansion. During the week there was also an organised trip to Pompeii; and on the spare days we visited the island of Ischia and roamed the city streets. Naples is also the home of the pizza, with the origins of the humble margarita dating back to a visit by the Queen consort of Italy's visit in 1889.

Top tips 

My advice to anyone considering going on exchange would be to experience as much of the city as you can. Even though I was in London for 10 months there are still so many parts of the city that I wasn't able to explore; not to mention the countless European cities that I didn't have time to visit. It's a perfect opportunity to push your boundaries and do things you never considered you would whilst in Australia. 

Mitchell - Imperial College London