Sally - University of Surrey

B International Hotel and Tourism Management
Semester 1, 2016

Academic experience

I picked Surrey as my host university because of the variety of subjects they offered and also its location, being located about a 40 minute train ride from London. Surrey is located in the lovely town of Guildford and is also one of the top ranked Universities in the U.K. It is a smaller university than UQ, which i enjoyed as it was easy to get to know people and to get involved. 

At Surrey, i undertook Event Design and Creativity, Issues in International Event Management, Sustainable Operations and Technology, Media and Data. My favourite subject was Event Design and Creativity as i found it really interesting, practical and was something i found that UQ does not really offer in the Events courses. All my subjects had various lecturers, usually a different lecturer each week which made classes more engaging. There was almost a guest speaker every week for some of my subjects as well, so we were able to meet people from the industry and get a real perspective of how the tourism and events industries work and what opportunities there were in those areas. I didn't really find too many challenges for these subjects as assessment wise they were fairly similar to UQ. Overall i thought that the quality of teaching at Surrey was really high and overall i learnt so much more than i expected in just a semester. 

Personal experience

The biggest thing i gained from exchange, probably like most would agree is the friendships you gain. I met so many great people at Surrey, both exchange students and domestic students at Surrey which all these new friends i had made, made leaving Surrey really hard! The student union at Surrey is really great as they really encourage everyone to participate and to be social. They organise so many events, including weekend trips which many of us exchange students took up. 

By living at Surrey, you are also only a short train ride or a flight from new cities which was a major bonus and allowed me to travel so much throughout the semester. I really enjoyed moving to somewhere, where i knew absolutely no one which definitely helped me grow as a person as i had to learn how to make new friends and overall i learnt so much more about myself! 

Accommodation

I lived on campus in Surrey Court, which i really couldn't recommend enough as i absolutely loved it! I was so close to everything on campus and was only a 10 minute walk to the train station and center of town. Living on campus really helped me make most of my friends at Surrey and it was a really social environment which i enjoyed so much. 

I would recommend for anyone wanting to do an exchange at Surrey to avoid living at Manor Park or Hazel Farm as then you need a bus pass or a bike to get to campus and i also think you would be less likely to be social. 

Budget 

For the actual semester i would recommend to budget about $12,000 which includes your accommodation, flights, transport, food and other living expenses. I traveled for about 3 months before my exchange started and also for a few weeks once it had finished so if you have similar plans i would recommend to budget for a bit more. It really depends what you do while you travel and where you go, so to give anyone an actual amount they should budget is a bit difficult. Over Easter we had a whole month break, so majority of exchange students used this time to travel around Europe. I traveled around the Scottish highlands, Northern England and then i spent two weeks in Turkey! I would research where you would want to travel to help you estimate your travel budget for the semester. The easiest way to save money is by staying in hostels or using Air Bnb. You should also take advantage of the budget airlines which many of them leave from Gatwick Airport which is only a half hour train ride from Guildford. 

Professional development & employability

This semester abroad I have learnt so much more about myself and it really helped me explore my own identity. I have become more independent, I am more willing to have a go and try new things and I also think i developed better leadership skills. By travelling and being on exchange I definitely learnt some very valuable lessons and my cultural awareness also improved. Making new friends and learning from lecturers and guest speakers at Surrey, provided me with great net working opportunities and overall i think all of these together have been greatly beneficial to my professional development. 

Highlights 

My highlights include paragliding off the top of the Austria Alps, taking a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia, Turkey, sailing along the Dalmatian coast in Croatia and going to watch Arsenal play at Emirates Stadium. Also of course, I couldn't leave out meeting so many new people who i became really close to and made my time at Surrey the absolute best. 

Top tips

  1. Live ON campus! This was really by far the best decision I made! Make sure you apply as soon as you receive the application form! I lived in a band C room where the majority of these rooms are on the actual campus and they are great rooms too. 
  2. Get a bank account with Citibank. This was probably one of my other best decisions as Citibank have no fees at all including international exchanges, ATM fees and transfers. 
  3. Get a U.K. 16-25 railcard. They do cost £30 but you will end up saving heaps of money with one! Especially if you are going to London, Brighton, Bath or anywhere in the U.K. 
  4. Plan early! Plan your travel as early as you can, I can not stress enough! I recommend the first week or two while you're at Surrey. It will save you lots of money in the end as flights, trains and buses will just get more expensive as time goes on. 
  5. Use buses when you can. In Europe, I saved hundreds of dollars by using buses to travel as they are by far the cheapest mode of transport and pretty much go to all the destinations you can think of. It's really easy and cheap to get an overnight bus from London to Belgium, the Netherlands and France! Definitely check out Megabus, Flixbus and Ouibus! 
  6. And lastly, don't let people hold you back from doing what you want to do! 

Massive Thank-you to UQ for giving me this amazing opportunity! 

Sally - University of Surrey