Naomi - University of Sheffield

B Music/ B Education
Semester 1, 2015

Academic experience

I studied a broad range of courses and specifically chose them because they were different to what is on offer at UQ.  I studied the Psychology of Music Performance, Early Music (of the Elizabethan Era) and Ethnomusicology, which I have been interested in pursuing since school but had not previously had the opportunity to do. 
The academic system was slightly different, as I only had three subjects instead of four, and tended to have fewer pieces of assessment for each as well. I didn't have any exams but had essays which were worth most of my total grade.

Personal experience

The exchange provided the opportunity to experience living in the UK, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Experiencing a winter Christmas was definitely a highlight, and experiencing the dramatic change in seasons is something we don't really get in Brisbane.
I have made many new friends, from the UK and around the world, and the transport available in the UK has allowed me to travel quite extensively throughout the country on my weekends and Easter holidays. Being so close to Europe, the UK provides the perfect opportunity to travel around before and after the exchange.

Accommodation 

I lived on campus, or in university accommodation throughout my exchange. It wasn't the closest option to the university but was within a large university-managed student village. The accommodation was very handy as you didn't have to worry about dealing with bills. Heating and internet etc. is all included, so one less thing to worry about. Also maintenance or anything that isn't quite right- anything is usually taken care of pretty quickly. I had self-catering accommodation and shared the kitchen with 7 others.
It worked really well and was good for meeting new people, although all the international students were grouped together (I was in a group of Australian and New Zealanders).  I would definitely recommend staying on campus if you haven't been to the country or city before, and it is nice to be with others who are perhaps experiencing similar things to you, being an international student.

Budget 

Expenses in Sheffield were fairly cheap compared to London and other major cities, but it can range greatly and really just depends on how tight you want to be with your budget. Accommodation would have to be the biggest expense, and staying on campus is more expensive than finding your own, however, it is definitely easier when you arrive somewhere completely unknown. Transport was cheap enough, for long-distance travel it can be expensive but there are usually good deals if you book in advance (even the day before can make a difference!). Food is quite cheap, although the large major supermarkets only have small stores in the city, sometimes with limited range - the larger stores tend to be in the suburbs, although this isn't a problem by bus. 
I would recommend allowing more than you think you'll need- some weeks are more expensive than others, and allow you to treat yourself here and there.  Having over-budgeted, I now have some savings that will be very useful for travelling in Europe after my exchange.

Professional development and employability

Participation on exchange has allowed me to study what I am most interested in- Ethnomusicology, which is not offered at UQ, and at only a handful of Australian universities. Having studied it during high-school, the ability to pursue it at university level has been interesting, and doing fieldwork and exploring the music that most interests me has been very enjoyable.

Highlight 

A single highlight would be exploring the music of the British Isles, (through Ethnomusicology) and meeting and making friends with a bunch of like-minded people.  The field of study does not really exist in Australia (in the area that I am interested in) but finding lecturers and other students doing the same thing, and playing music with them has been amazing.

Top tips

Plan as much as possible before you go. I planned my travel after my exchange before I left Australia, and even though it seems hard, it has been a lot less stressful than doing it during exams with the end of the exchange looming. 
Budget that little bit more than you think you will need, it’s quite nice to get to the end and be able to do some extra things than being worried about it all the time or the possibility that you'll run out. Take every opportunity there is- join societies, go on day/ weekend trips (there is a HEAP) happening almost every weekend, make new friends and explore your new city.

Naomi - University of Sheffield