Nicola - University of Glasgow

B Business Management/ B Arts
Semester 1, 2016

Academic Experience

I loved everything about exchange life! While at the University of Glasgow I studied 3 Honours Politics courses and they were the best courses I have done at university so far. I am a fourth year which is their equivalent of Honours level which made the content so much more detailed and really broadened my knowledge. They also have much smaller class sizes (my biggest was 20 people) which led to a lot more group discussion and interaction.

As for challenges - expect course changes, Glasgow is very laidback and do not share the panic you feel when your courses fall through in the first week! Just be prepared to take anything you can get and be open to doing a subject that you may not have chosen before, they were very accommodating for my degree requirements but I did have to branch out and discover new areas that I had never considered before. Also, the university looks like Hogwarts which is awesome.

Personal Experience

The first few weeks will be equal parts challenging and exhilarating, you are thrown into a new unfamiliar environment and while the university staff are helpful it is up to you to take charge and have to deal with challenges as they arise. I feel like overall I gained confidence in myself and felt true independence for the first time. 

On exchange every day was a new adventure. I met my three closest friends on an average Tuesday studying in the park which turned into karaoke night! On exchange you really have to put yourself out there to meet new people and those friends that you make are so special, they are the ones who share your amazing adventures. The girls I met that day in the park up joining me for a 7-week tour through Europe as well as countless weekend trips to the Highlands, Dublin and London. I also took 3 weeks solo backpacking through Amsterdam, Berlin, Budapest and Barcelona – if you can figure out Berlin’s public transport signs (none of which are in English) you can figure out anything… Travelling really is the most worthwhile thing you will ever do and really teaches you to trust in yourself.

Accommodation

I lived at Kelvinhaugh Street in a mixed apartment with four others and it was great. It is a 10 minute walk to the University and 2 minutes from a main street with grocery stores, pubs and heaps of cafes. The only downside to living on-campus, especially Kelvinhaugh Street, is that it is full of international students. This can be positive or negative depending on how you look at it; you have to make a conscious effort to find Scottish friends but the people you are surrounded by all share the same mentality as you in that they are always up for an adventure and are keen to travel on weekends and Uni breaks, something locals may not be as interested in. The accommodation system, in general, is very well run and I would also recommend Cairncross House and Student Apartments.

Glasgow as a city is fairly small, only around 600,000 people and the university area has an amazing nightlife. The people are lovely and being small you often run into people you know. Explore Byres Road, Ashton Lane and Great Western Road as they have an awesome mix of restaurants, pubs, bars, tea rooms and cafes.

Budget 

To be completely honest, exchange is not cheap. I spent just over $15,000 in Glasgow including accommodation (which was $5,400 for the semester) however if you wish to travel before or following the exchange I would really recommend taking a lot more because Europe is so easy and accessible. Realistically I could have gotten by on a lot less but I went into exchange with the mentality that I wanted to have the best six months of my life so every weekend was movies, nights out and I would put my hand up for any weekend trips to the Highlands and any university or cultural events.

The average cost of living in Glasgow is very similar to Australia for groceries and essentials. Travel through the United Kingdom is also very cheap if you go with cheap airlines (RyanAir in particular). Average costs of flights to London and Dublin for me was $40 return and a night in a hostel in the UK I found to be around $20.

Professional development and employability 

Through UQ Abroad I gained a whole lot of confidence in myself and I know how to embrace challenges and work with diverse people. I gained a great appreciation for a different way of life, both through life in Scotland and travels throughout Europe after. I made beautiful friends from around the globe through my solo travels and I cannot recommend solo travel enough (even for a short period), as it is a whole different experience. Through exchange I also gained a great understanding of our history and international affairs, being in the United Kingdom and so close to Europe, those issues are at the forefront and I was genuinely interested in learning from political voices there.

Highlights  

Study abroad has been the highlight of my university career without a doubt, however academically the highlight was receiving an invitation to see the United Nations Security General Ban Ki-Moon give a 70-year anniversary address at Central Westminster in London. It was towards the beginning of my exchange so the thought of going by myself to London for a night was a little daunting but travel is so easy and I soon found myself sitting with Oxford scholars and other dignitaries and had such a fantastic day. Take every opportunity as it comes!

Top Tips 

Overall the best tip I can give you is taking the plunge and do it!

  • Look into government and faculty loans which are really generous and save, save, save.
  • While there you will have so many adventures and every frustrating situation makes for a great story, you will face road blocks but you’ll get through them and be better for it.
  • Look into the clubs and societies, the International Student Society has pub nights every Wednesday with FREE FOOD.
  • You will gain weight - embrace it, own it, eat your way through a new country with no regrets! Try haggis, try the whiskeys and love every second of this awesome city.
Nicola - University of Glasgow