Jack - University of Glasgow

B Mechanical Engineering and Aerospace
Semester 1, 2016

Academic Experience

Firstly, GO ON EXCHANGE! If you can manage it financially, you won't regret it. (There are student loans available) Read on if you need more convincing.
The University of Glasgow was in many ways different to UQ. The Engineering courses aren't recorded, and some classes' notes were written on chalk blackboards and not posted online. Although, that probably attributes to the age of the uni itself. Being the 4th oldest university in the English-speaking world (est. 1451), it's housed actors like Gerard Butler and Robbie Coltrane. But more impressive to me though were engineers James Watt and Lord Kelvin (the father of Thermodynamics) who also studied and taught at the University. The latter being really enjoyable as I was studying Thermodynamics in the buildings it was created in. Any Harry Potter fans will also love the uni because it feels like you're walking around Hogwarts.
More generally, in the UK the order of the semesters are swapped, so with no electives, it was difficult to find matching subjects for my semester in Glasgow. Even once I'd arrived, there were changes that had to be made with my study plan. Be ready for that.

Academic Advice:

  • Enjoy your time travelling, but you are there to study so stay up to date.
  • If you have a strict UQ course (like Engineering) try and save up as many electives as you can manage. (Trust me, it will make your life a lot easier).
  • Yes, it can take some effort to apply and sort everything out to get over to your host university, but you'll thank yourself for putting in the effort.

Personal Experience

This exchange was unforgettable. I'll look back at it as the turning point in my life.
In half a year, you'd be surprised with how much travelling you can achieve while staying on top of your degree. I travelled to cites I'd never heard of and saw things I didn't know existed. Hiked 500km in stereotypical Scottish weather and embraced many diverse cultures. Met like-minded people and fell in love with food I'll have to get shipped over. I did things I never imagined I would, and with so little effort. The first step was saying yes to UQ Abroad.
Do you really need more convincing?

Personal Advice:

  • Know that the effort to do things is worth it when you get there.
  • Say yes (to most things). We all know this piece of advice, but truly think about it - it will completely change your experience abroad.
  • There is Netflix in Australia, don't waste days binging. (It happens, and it's my biggest regret)
  • Sign up for clubs, no one is going to push you to meet people or get out there.
  • If you're in Scotland, hike the West Highland Way (well worth the effort).

Accommodation 

If you're planning on living in a 'college' or on-campus, worry not, it's far cheaper than the ones at UQ. I lived in 'Murano Street Student Village', the cheapest and biggest of them all. If you like not meeting too many people and walking 20 minutes to class, this is the place for you. If I had my time again, I'd choose another, more sociable on-campus accommodation. Although, the former allowed me to create strong friendships with other internationals on my floor.

Accommodation Advice:

  • Find something in your price range.
  • Make sure the environment matches what you want (It will change your whole experience).

Professional Development & Employability

Some big things in life begin with a small decision. Ask anyone who's studied abroad and they'll all tell you that it's the best small decision they've made.
Being on exchange creates doors that you can open back in Australia. Ranging from the knowledge that you have contacts across the globe, to the skills subconsciously developed while living life on the other side of the planet.
I could go and list all of these traits, but the matter lies with the fact being abroad fertilises your persona, allows you to return a more advanced human and continue down that path. Need I go on?

Highlights

As an Engineer (I'm sure this would apply most disciplines) it was truly amazing and honestly inspiring to be among where theories and inventions were created. We don't have much history in Australia and it was great to see things in the flesh. It gives you a greater appreciation for other cultures.

Top Tips 

All of the effort you put in will pay off.

  • Book flights well in advance (if not, there are cheap buses to places like Paris)
  • I enjoyed travelling in winter more than summer, no one likes being in a sea of tourists, and it's far cheaper.
  • Don't think too much about your 'comfort zone', the most fun I had came from going with the flow.
  • Stay in contact with the people you meet. You never know when you might need a friend or a business contact later in life.
  • Don't stress about anything but your final exams. It will ALL work out. And if it takes a few stumbles to get there, it'll make a great story.

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! Go apply.  Best of luck, you'll truly love it.

Jack - University of Glasgow