Na - University of Leeds

B Exercise and Nutrition Science
Semester 1, 2015

Academic experiences

On exchange, I studied a total of five subjects all in the school of Food and Nutrition: three third year subjects, one second year subjects and one first year:

  • Function Foods
  • Personalised & Clinical Nutrition
  • Diet and Cardiovascular Health
  • Nutrition in the Prevention and Treatment of Diseases
  • Traditional Alcoholic Beverages

Overall, I felt the workload in Leeds was much lighter than that at UQ. I had less than 10 contact hours a week, and though there was a fair amount of compulsory reading and self-study required. I felt, on the whole, it was quite a stress-free semester which worked out well for me as that just meant more time to travel. 
Most of my subjects only had one or two assessment pieces including the EOS exam, which consisted of a list of questions, and an amount of questions that must be answered, so you could then chose which ones to answer. Similar to UQ, they have a selection of past papers available on their Blackboard equivalent: the VLE, which I found super helpful during study week. 
I have to say, if you can, do study FOOD1130/FOOD1131: Traditional Alcoholic Beverages. Not only is this a super interesting and fun subject about the steps to producing beer and wine, the assessment actually involves brewing your own beer. We also visited a micro-brewery and a vineyard, had a wine-tasting session and a "beer-fest" which was basically trying out everyone's homemade beer.

Personal experiences

Leeds is simply just the best place to go on exchange, with a huge student population and great nightlife. Literally in the middle of UK, travelling all around UK is super easy, and as it has its own airport, and is only a cheap train ride from Manchester or London, travelling around the whole of Europe is also extremely convenient.  In my two months I had for travel ( one month off during Easter break, and another month before flying home) I managed to visit Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Spain and Norway. I saved most of my travelling around UK for weekend trips as I wanted to make the most of my time while abroad. 
While on exchange although there were loads of Australians literally everywhere I went, my closest friends ended up being from all over the world, including Canada, Germany, Hungary and Norway just to name a few.  I have to say, some of my most fond memories consist of just my close group of friends chilling together busting stereotypes, cooking together, celebrating their traditions and learning their languages. While I can’t say I’m entirely fluent in any of the ones I tried to pick up, knowing some basic phrases is definitely beneficial when English is not the main language spoken.

Accommodation 

The accommodation I picked was Lupton Residence which I would strongly recommend if you're looking for somewhere friendly, cheap and simple. Though it is just a short 30 minute walk from uni, or a 10 minute bus ride (£1 one way), I decided instead to hire a bike from uni for £35 (~$70) for the semester.  I would strongly recommend you get a bike as it is a super convenient way of travelling around Lupton, and a great way to fit some exercise in.
Also, as the main roads do get a fair bit of traffic during peak hours, biking is definitely the most efficient way to get around.

Budget 

Most of my money was spent on travelling, as I found that when living in Leeds, prices are quite similar to those in Brisbane. I booked my flights roughly two months in advance, but because it’s during peak season (January), it’s quite expensive.  Accommodation worked out quite well, roughly $160/w. 
Overall, I would suggest having at least $10K saved up, and if you want to travel, budget for $100/day and you'll be completely covered.  If you're on a budget and you want to travel, there're quite a decent amount of cheap hostels and plane tickets, so just keep an eye out for those. Usually if you just book the plane tickets and hostels roughly 6 weeks before travelling, you're all set. If you're lucky you can find some super cheap flights with Ryan Air. I got a return ticket from Leeds to Dublin for just £20 (~$40), so keep your eyes peeled. 
For food, I managed to keep it around £15/week ($30).  I cooked most days/week, shopped at Aldi, Morrison's and Leeds Market, and kept shopping to a minimum. 
In any case, H&M, Primark and all those Thrift shops dotted all over Leeds were my best friends for budget shopping.

Academic development and employability

Exchange has just been an eye opener; helping me to adapt to different surroundings, cultures and differences.  It's definitely made me more independent and confident as a person, helping me to make friends easier and to engage in conversations better. 
I found that when planning trips, it challenged me to be organised, flexible and practical, to have a successful trip hence why I feel exchange has greatly enhanced my employability.

Highlight 

Absolutely too much to name; I loved every second of my exchange. 
Something fun worth mentioning though is Leeds Ball. Unlike your typical formal sit-down dinners, Leeds Ball consisted of an animal-themed all night carnival type celebration where the union opens up the front back and inside to a night of end-of-year craze. There was a merry-go-round, dodg'em cars, a ferris wheel and heaps more! I have to say, playing laser tag in a formal dress is definitely the perfect way to end my exchange at Leeds!! <3

Top Tips 

As clichéd as it sounds, going on exchange has just been the BEST experience ever! 
I could go on and on about all the people you'll meet, the friends you'll make, the places you'll go etc. etc., but instead, I'm going to just say, on exchange, you're seriously just pushed to try new things, so one thing I definitely recommend is say "YES"!  Have a positive attitude to things and be "up for it". 
Don't let tiredness or laziness stop you from doing things. Remember, you only have 6 months, so make every second count!

Be more friendly to everyone, because there's honestly no harm in making more friends, and the things you learn from/with them, will be incredible. 
For Leeds, go to GIAG (give it a go) sessions, join clubs, make friends with your flatmates, and definitely go to any exchange orientation events in the beginning. 
That's when you get your close friend groups.

Overall, choose a country you WANT to go to; if travelling is your thing, make sure you choose a country convenient to allow you to do that. 
Make a mini, achievable bucket-list of things you want to do, not so you do them just to check them off, but just to remind you when you're feeling a little out of it. 
Remember, exchange is only as awesome as you make it to be, so make it so!!