Nicola - University of Sussex

B Journalism/ B Arts
Semester 2, 2016

Academic experience

At the University of Sussex I undertook four electives for the Arts side of my degree which included two history (one first year, one second year) and two international relations subjects (one first year, one second year). In comparison to UQ I actually found the course work load quite lighter but this may also be due to the fact that three out of my four courses only had one major assessment item. However, having one assessment item proved quite daunting as it put a lot of pressure to perform well as it would be worth 100% of your grade. Also, I undertook alternative assessments which meant I didn't have to return for the examination period in January and instead was free to travel.

Personal experience

Living in Brighton and studying at Sussex allowed me to form lifelong friendships with people from opposite sides of the world. I am so grateful to exchange, in this respect, for pushing me out of my comfort zone to meet people as I now wouldn't have contacts in the US, Mexico, other parts of Australia, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and of course England. In terms of travel I was able to explore Europe for two and a half months after my uni classes finished in december visiting a total of 16 countries. During the actual teaching semester I stayed mainly in the UK with regular weekend trips to London (if you book in a group you can get 7 pound return tickets on the train) as well as other trips to Manchester, Liverpool, Isle of Wight, Oxford and Portsmouth. The only trip I made outside the UK during the teaching semester was during the mid break to visit my friend in Vienna.

Accommodation

Due to unprecedented demand for on-campus housing, the University of Sussex established partnerships with three hotels within Brighton and Hove ( I think one was in the next town Lewes) purely for international students. I stayed in Langford's which was located in Hove and just up the road from the famous beach huts by the sea. I absolutely loved living off campus in Brighton itself as the city is so exciting and I liked how I could pop to the centre in five minutes unlike living on campus which would take you just under an hour. As for the actual hotel accommodation, it was basically dorm style in that you shared a room as well as an ensuite with one person and then downstairs in the basement area there was a massive share kitchen/ common room equipped with a TV, couches, tables, chairs etc. I wasn't a massive fan of the shared kitchen as towards the end (despite being cleaned daily) it got quite messy but I loved the common room space which was great for an array of things such as studying, chilling, watching a movie and parties.

Budget 

Brighton and the UK, in general, is quite expensive. For my rent, I paid around $2800 (1700 pounds) which was for three months. For transport, I purchased a 90-day networkSAVER bus pass costing 127 pounds and this was valid on all Brighton and Hove buses including night services. In terms of food, I lived a couple of blocks away from a Tesco superstore (one of the cheapest supermarkets in the UK) and with meal plans in mind would try to only spend between 20 to 30 pounds per week on groceries. Finally, for two and a half months of travel, I think I spent around $6000. Europe has some of the cheapest flights, trains, buses and hostels in the world so take advantage of it by regularly checking Skyscanner for deals. I think my cheapest flight was from Brussels to Dublin for around $25 and also Budapest to Copenhagen for $30!! Overall I think if you went over with $10 000 (including rent) you would be able to live comfortably and also travel for at least! a month.

Professional development & employability

Exchange has definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone to become more independent and has increased my confidence levels. As my degree is a bachelor of Journalism/Arts confidence is an integral component of not only interviewing but pursuing sources. Also for anyone who eventually wants to work and live overseas exchange will prove invaluable as it proves to future employers that you have already successfully engaged in activities well outside of your comfort zone as well as readily embraced cultural differences.

Highlights 

For me meeting people from all over the world and being able to establish lifelong friendships would have to be one of the many highlights of my exchange. I loved learning more about where they were from as well as how these places differed from Australia. Also, another highlight of my exchange was seeing the northern lights from Iceland (it was incredible) and somehow managing to get tickets to watch Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in London!!

Top tips

Just do it! Exchange will be one of the best experiences of your life as it is such a special and unique experience to live abroad independently at such a young age. If you are worried about money there are a variety of services that can assist you including scholarships from UQ as well as the Os help loans (I think you get around $6000). People think they will never be able to afford exchange but as soon as you put that behind you and prioritise the thought of living abroad you will find that your savings build a lot faster.

Nicola - University of Sussex