Isabella - University of Leeds

B Science
Semester 2, 2016

Academic Experience

I chose to study all first year elective subjects, as there were no subjects that would have matched up and given me credit for the semester I was missing. I was lucky that because my degree is broader, I had lots of choice in the subjects I could choose and chose a variety from different faculties. I studied International Politics, Food: Origins and Forms, Traditional Alcoholic Beverages, and Managing Festivals and Events.

 I really enjoyed taking subjects from totally different study areas that I never would have otherwise taken, however, it did provide some challenges. International Politics involved a lot more reading and essay writing to what I am used to, so whilst that was an adjustment I still really enjoyed the different style of learning. Leeds uses a very similar system to Blackboard, so that wasn't too difficult to adjust to. A big adjustment, however, was that attendance was taken in all classes electronically. This was a big change to UQ where lecture attendance isn't compulsory, so that was an interesting change.

Personal Experience

This experience for me was so invaluable as an opportunity to grow and really develop greater personal skills. Living in a house with 10 other strangers, sharing communal areas, and having to get along definitely forced me to grow up and become more open. It's incredibly gratifying to know that you can go to another country where you don't know anyone, and you can make friends and be incredibly happy. I made wonderful close friends at Leeds, both from exchange and students who are studying their full degrees there, which made the whole experience so much more rich and worthwhile.


I lived about 15-20 mins walk off campus in a block called Devonshire Hall. It has beautiful old buildings and a mixture of catered and self-catered students. I chose to be catered, as did most of the other exchange students, and it was a really great opportunity for socialising and catching up with people every single day. I loved that Dev had beautiful old buildings and because it wasn't on campus it was like a small community, but we weren't so far from campus as to make the walk into uni difficult. Devonshire also has some great facilities like tennis courts and a gym. One of my favourite parts were the formal dinners which were held on special occasions in the dining hall, where everyone wore robes; it was such a fun and unique experience. I would definitely recommend all future students to take the opportunity of living in University accommodation as it makes making friendships and connections much easier.


My rent, which included 13 meals a week (except over christmas), was about 2700 pounds for the whole semester. Because I was catered, I didn't really need to spend much money on food. Transport is fairly cheap, a typical uber home from a night out was about 5 pounds, and to get to uni each day the buses from most student residences was just 1 pound. As Leeds is such a small city and the residences are all quite close to uni, if not on campus, walking to uni is really very easy and saves money. Budgeting for travel is really very personal, as the amount of travel people did on exchange varied greatly. I did about 3 weeks of travel before the semester started, and a few weekends during the semester, and the ski trip over the christmas break. However, some people chose to do none, and some travelled much more than I did. In regards to budget for entertainment, a typical night out in leeds was about 10 pounds.

Professional Development & Employability 

My whole exchange experience, including my travel by myself beforehand, forced me to grow and adapt and become more flexible. Mainly, this exchange has given me the skills to talk to people I don't know, to put myself out there and make friends, and also the confidence to step out into the world and into workplaces knowing I will be competent and successful. This will undoubtedly help me in the workplace in the future, while speaking with patients and adapting to new environments.


One of my highlights was the Christmas Ball organised by Devonshire Hall and held at a hotel in town; it was such a fun evening, and so nice to get dressed up. Another highlight was the ski trip during the Christmas break with the Leeds Snowriders Society. We drove all the way down to Andorra (near France and Spain) as soon as semester finished - 26 hours in a bus. Whilst the bus ride was a bit uncomfortable and very very long, it was also super fun, and just the start of an even more fun week. It was a crazy week and something I know I'll never experience again; it was so much fun and I'd really recommend it.

Top Tips 

If any students are on the fence about exchange and unsure whether or not to go, I would recommend that you definitely do it. I only applied last minute, but it was the best decision I have ever made, and I know I would have regretted it if I hadn't gone. The application process might seem tedious and long but its definitely worth it in the end. The experience has made me grow so much as a person, and changed my outlook on the world. Try to say 'yes' to whatever comes your way, put yourself out there, and take risks, because that's where the rewards are...