Ailsa - University of Glasgow

B International Studies
Semester 1, 2015

Academic Experiences

Whilst at the University of Glasgow I continued to study within the school of social and political sciences. However, with the different selection of courses on offer, I was able to explore some areas of the field I had not yet been exposed to at UQ. This included a course in Central and Eastern European studies. With limited prior knowledge of the area, this course opened my eyes to new perspectives, cultures and helped to broaden my understanding of European history, making it a thoroughly enjoyable and engaging course.

I also had the opportunity to take advantage of my location and participate in a course on Scottish history, specifically designed for international students. This was a brilliant way of getting to know both the country and the other international students I was sharing the exchange experience with.

Finally, Glasgow gave me the opportunity to participate in a photography course at the renowned Glasgow School of Art. I really appreciated the chance to try something completely new and attempt a course totally different from my other studies. It also provided me with the perfect motivation to get out and photograph my beautiful new home!

I was lucky in that the University of Glasgow had a very similar academic system to that of UQ and a great international student support team to assist me with any problems.

Personal Experiences

Going on exchange truly was a once in a lifetime experience, and one I'll not easily forget. Though there were times I struggled with home sickness and adjusting to the new surroundings and cultures, the confidence and sense of accomplishment I gained makes it all worthwhile.

The opportunities and freedom to explore new places was a real highlight for me and inspired me to travel further than I'd ever planned.


During my time in Glasgow I lived in university accommodation. Its close proximity to both the University, the West End and the city centre made it an ideal location (a huge benefit in a new city!). I shared the flat with four other girls studying at the university as international students. As we were all in a similar situation, it was easy to relate to one another and we often shared similar interests (particularly when it came to sightseeing).

Based on my experience, I would definitely recommend university accommodation as it was very well organized, well-designed to suit student’s needs, and a great social hub for meeting others.


Generally, I found living costs in Glasgow to be rather similar to Australia. I would budget an average of £120 ($250) a week for food, drink, entertainment and travel. On top of this, I paid £106 per week for rent. I found that buying and cooking meals in bulk (i.e. to last a few nights), helped keep food costs down. Entertainment and nights out tended to be the hardest to control. Luckily, close proximity to the nightlife eliminated the need for taxi fares.

Travel could also be difficult to budget for, but so long as you're looking in the right places (Ryan Air, Cheap Flights etc.) and willing to sacrifice some comfort, it's certainly possible to keep costs down. The long distance bus and train systems in the UK were brilliant and I would recommend this option if you've got the time to spare.

Academic Development and Employability 

I believe my participation in exchange has broadened my knowledge through allowing me to engage with courses I would not have ordinarily taken on at whilst at UQ. It's given me experience in adjusting to different programs and learning strategies.

As for employability, I would argue that exchange has shown that I am capable and eager to explore new territory, proven that I can be independent, as well as overcome the challenges of cultural differences.


It may sound silly, but despite all the brilliant, unforgettable moments throughout my whole experience (and there were many), the single most important highlight of my time in Glasgow was an entirely ordinary day. It was towards the end of my exchange and it'd had been a day like any other.

I'd walked to University in the morning, had my routine coffee in the library, made a quick visit to the campus gym, followed by a sandwich from my favourite cafe in Glasgow. But as I sat at the cafe window looking out onto the famous Kelvingrove Museum, I couldn't help but feel overwhelmed with an appreciation for the exchange experience. I thought about all that I had achieved, the things I'd learned, the places I'd been, the people I'd met and most of all, how comfortable I felt at that moment in my new home.

This moment will always stick with me when I look back on my time in Glasgow and has given me the confidence to pursue further travel.

Top Tips 

Every exchange experience is unique to the individual, but I believe everyone has something to gain from it. Whether it be new friends, enhanced career opportunities, a greater insight into a different culture or a new-found sense of independence, the list of benefits is endless. Of course, there are many challenges as well, but overcoming such challenges is all part of the fun. I would highly recommend the exchange program to other students.