Linh - University of Sussex

B Health Science
Semester 1, 2016

Academic experience

My degree at UQ seems so hard to apply for an abroad term as it has strict course requirements. Preparing early from the very first beginning of my Bachelor of Health Sciences gave me 4 elective courses to spend on my exchange and the University of Sussex offered great choices that were suitable for my need.
The campus is quite small compared to UQ but it is located inside a national park so it has a very beautiful view. I was often late for classes as I was busy chasing the rabbits, seagulls, squirrels or even foxes.

I took 4 courses: Introduction to Marketing, Biochemistry, Metabolism and Pharmacology and Sociology of medicine and health. Basically, courses (which UK universities call modules) are organized the same as UQ with lecture, tutorial and practical. My lecturers were friendly and approachable. I loved the Sociology course so much as I would never have had a chance to get access to so many useful theories for my degree as I learnt in that course.

I found the workload and assessment to be less than UQ. I had all the time in the world during the semester to explore Brighton as there were few in-class quizzes and tested laboratory and I went crazy at the end of the semester as the final exams period lasted for 1 month and most exams took up around 80% of the course.

Personal experience

A foreign language, unbearable weather year round and the aroma of wind everywhere caused my homesickness during the first few weeks. However, the university holds many welcoming events and it’s a great way of making new friends.

Studying abroad is one large vacation filled with minimal time studying English literature, replaced by train-wandering on National Railway or jet-setting on Ryanair throughout the UK and Europe. It's the time in my life I am allowed to put academics second and social life first so as to become “cultured” and more aware of the world around me for a few months - from touring the Colosseum in Rome to sailing the Gondola in Venice to first time drinking in an Oxford pub. I definitely can't seem to forget what happened to me during the past six months: losing my way around Amsterdam, enjoying currywurst in Berlin and walking a 1-hour path to the train station in Cambridge with my mate hoping we wouldn’t be late. It's an era in life where I am allowed to do as I please, stay in backpackers' hostels, live without the rice cooker and fish sauce, go out until 5 am, ignore my final paper until the night before and spend weekends in other countries I can't even pronounce. 

There is, however, so much more to it. This is a time to learn more about myself. Step out of my comfort zone by eating Western dinner by myself at a local restaurant, booking a weekend getaway without friends and not being afraid to stay in a hostel alone, missing the bus while there was no phone signals in the Bibury village. It’s just like a marvel, an unforgettable adventure in my life.

Accommodation

I stayed in East Slope – the cheapest and oldest area on campus built on a hill. I lived in a flat with 8 other exchange students and we shared two toilets and a kitchen.

My experience here was the worst thing on my exchange. There is a housekeeper coming every week to clean the house but my other housemates had a different style of living from me, which I could not stand. They never washed the dishes after eating and had parties every night. Imagine that when you wake up and see so many people lying everywhere in your kitchen, covered by all kinds of alcohol and smoke smell, how do you feel? East Slope is the liveliest accommodation on campus so if you're quite flexible and easy-going, you may find it ok. I travelled a lot during my term abroad and spent few times at home so overall staying there is not too bad, and at least it helped me save money for other things.

I recommend Park Village if you look for a clean but still affordable accommodation when going to Sussex.

Budget 

Brighton is a small coastal town with the best fish and chips in Britain. It is also famous for its boho style fashion, the greedy seagulls, and so many other little things that contributed to my great experiences in the UK. 
Compared to the North of UK, living in Brighton is quite expensive. I bought the Keycard to travel by the local bus for 3 months and it cost me around 120GBP, which is quite a good thing. The best thing here is you can use your phone as your bus ticket and it is cheaper than buying the paper one directly from the bus driver. There is a supermarket on campus but it is very bad and charged me so much money. I often spent time downtown and bought food at Aldi or Sainsbury.

Professional development and employability 

I am an international student at UQ so being in UQ is already a “study abroad” experience for me. However, deciding to do another “short-term study abroad” at the University of Sussex was also one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life, which helped me reveal my potential power.

I used to be a weak girl who often got lost but now finding a route is not a big deal for me. I am more flexible to any kinds of working environment thanks to my cultural sensitivity and cross-cultural communication abilities. I have improved my language skills and conducted independent research which has contributed a lot to my employability.

Highlights 

Study abroad, for a brief, a sweet moment...
Italy, England or whatever country I visited will always be there. But, it won’t ever be the same, just as I won't be the same upon returning from studying abroad.
I cannot recommend studying abroad highly enough. Find the people you like, travelling and seeing the world with your naked eyes will be the best thing ever you experience.

Top tips 

  • Plan as early as possible and save your elective courses for this term abroad. Your future self will say thank you when he/she has time to explore other new things which is more important than academics.
  • For international students: get the Europe visa in your home country or in Australia beforehand. I had lots of trouble getting the visa in the UK as my UK visa is type C and they do not see me as UK resident. 
  • Train in the UK is terribly expensive so I highly recommend planning your trip before 2 weeks and buy the ticket via Trainline app rather than at the station. Sometimes buying the 1-day return is cheaper than buying a single ticket so look for this deal.
Linh - University of Sussex