Jennifer - University of Edinburgh

B Advanced Science
Semester 2, 2016

Academic experience

Edinburgh was challenging academically, mainly due to the differences in teaching systems. Though I had a lighter workload in terms of contact hours, they expected more independent study. This, however, was quite good when it came to travelling and exploring the city as I had more free time!
I took the opportunity to branch out and use some of my electives, taking up programming, alongside required biology courses. I enjoyed all of them, though managing exams worth up to 90% was very stressful! But with time management and study, I overcame those hurdles.

Personal experience

When I left Edinburgh, I left a second home and a second family. The connections I made on exchange are ones that I will keep for life; I know I have a global network of friends with couches to crash on for future adventures!
I can safely say that I threw myself into the deep end going on exchange, and I've come out the other side as a stronger person. Finding a balance between academic life and travel, social events, society activities and all the other exchange experiences was difficult, but ultimately is something that I will bring back to my life in Australia.

Accommodation 

I lived off-campus in university accommodation (Pollock Halls). I had a slightly unusual experience in that my entire block were exchange students, which was really good; we were all in the same situation, and some of my strongest friendships came out of the people I met through college. I also loved how close Pollock Halls is to both campuses, and the city centre itself.

Budget  

Be prepared to overspend a little, or not stick to your budget every week. Definitely give yourself some limits and guidelines, but don't be afraid to splurge on opportunities that come up; in the long run, you're more likely to regret the things you don't do.
Accommodation is the biggest expense - I was in catered accommodation so didn't have to worry about food, but still budgeted for buying myself lunch and occasional nights out.
Getting flights or tours on sale, especially during off-peak tourist season, brought down my travel costs significantly.

Professional development and employability

I've developed the ability to better balance study and life, and learned to take a step back from academics to take advantage of societies and broader university life. This will also transfer into work and life balance in the future. I've also developed my confidence and networking skills significantly.

Highlights 

The highlight of my experience was the people I met; they made exchange what it was. Finding fellow exchange students meant that I had a core group of people all interested in travelling and exploring Edinburgh, and making the most of the short time we had there.

Top tips

Throw yourself into exchange with an open mind and enthusiasm; you will have the time of your life if you take this opportunity. Also, make sure you take one adapter and a power board - it's much simpler!

Jennifer - University of Edinburgh