Catherine - University College London

B Science/ B Laws (Hons)
Semester 1, 2017

Academic experience

I studied four science courses whilst on exchange: Language and Cognition, Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine, Pain, and Immunology. UCL is undoubtedly one of the best scientific research institutions in the world and this was definitely reflected in my courses. We heard from the researchers themselves and were exposed to newly developing technologies and discoveries on a daily basis. Surprisingly for science, most of my subjects had 100% essay-based finals. I personally enjoyed this system, as it allowed me to both read into and study topics that I was more interested in. The weight of the assessment was a bit daunting, so incremental study is definitely recommended! I had quite a bit of difficulty in the course enrolment phase as the subjects that I wanted to take were already at full capacity. Furthermore, some subjects had timetable clashes and could be not taken concurrently. Unfortunately, you are unable to find these things out until you start at UCL, so I highly recommend pre-approving as many courses as possible. My courses were all lecture-based, with no accompanying tutorials. As a result, a lot of independent reading is required to ensure that you really understand the lecture material.

Personal experience

London is without a doubt an amazing place. As an exchange student, I was really able to immerse myself in the city and find the little local spots. I have loved getting to know another city so well and hope to be back very soon. Aside from London, I was also fortunate enough to travel to Copenhagen, Barcelona, the Isle of Skye, Amsterdam and Italy. From a person who couldn't even cook rice to cooking for myself every day, I would like to think that my cooking skills improved! Organising trips and finding events in London has definitely made me more independent and proactive. Lastly, the lifelong friends that I made on exchange was what made it truly memorable and special.

Accommodation

I lived in John Dodgson House, which is one of UCL's self-catered halls. The residence was in prime location, with the campus only being a 10-minute walk away. It was also right across the road from the King's Cross/St Pancras train station, which serves most tube lines in addition to both the Eurostar and airport trains. I was lucky enough to have my own shower and toilet and shared the kitchen with 9 other students. I was fortunate enough to become quite close to these people during my time there. If you enjoy your own space but still enjoy a social aspect, I highly recommend this option!

Budget 

As everyone knows and will continue to tell you, London is expensive. As such, ensure that you allow for this in your budget! Groceries averaged 25-30 pounds/week, and I usually used under 10 pounds/week for transport. A great thing to do is to get the 16-25 railcard, which gives you 1/3 of tube fares and other trains.

Professional development and employability 

Exchange is a great learning experience. Not everything always goes to plan, and there are bound to be bumps along the road. The ability to cope and adapt to these new situations and be resilient will definitely contribute to my professional development.

Highlights 

Whether it be listening to Adele at Wembley Stadium, queuing for Wimbledon at 2am, boating in Regent's Park, or just walking outside in the London drizzle, all of these experiences made my exchange unique and special. For all the foodies, London constantly has dessert popups and wonderful food markets. The Camden food markets, in particular, was a favourite of mine!

Top tips

Go with an open mind and most importantly, do not be weighed down by expectations. Despite reading these testimonials, I can guarantee that your exchange experience will be entirely different!

Catherine - University College London