Madeleine - Royal Holloway, University of London

B Arts/ B Laws
Semester 1, 2015

Academic Experiences

I studied four courses at Royal Holloway (RHUL), for credit towards completing my Arts majors - History and Criminology (two courses each).
"The Politics of Post-war Europe", "Twentieth Century History - Middle East, Africa and Latin America", "Crime and the Media" and "Youth and Society" were all interesting, engaging and well taught units.

My lecturers and tutors were experts in their respective fields, friendly and happy to share their knowledge with students. Class structure and presentation were very similar to that at UQ. The only difficulty I encountered was in trying to co-ordinate class times between different academic departments - unlike at UQ, RHUL does not have a centralised timetable, and the departments do not co-ordinate with each other to avoid clashes.

Personal Experiences

Over the 5 months I spent on campus at RHUL I forged great friendships with an amazing group of young people, from all over the world. RHUL organised orientation activities for incoming exchange students so we got to know each other well very quickly - they became my family away from home! With these new friends I went on regular day trips into London proper to explore the sites, eat out and go to the theatre. We also travelled together more widely around the UK (weekend train trips to Cardiff, Edinburgh, Brighton, Dover and York) and on the Continent (we got $10 bus tickets to Brussels for a week of waffles, chocolate and frites!). I feel that travelling while on exchange, especially when on my own, has made me more independent, confident and worldly.

Accommodation 

I lived on campus in the beautiful Founders Hall. I had a spacious single room to myself, with a desk, wardrobe, shelves, sink and vanity.  There was a bathroom and "pantry" (storage space for food, kettle, microwave, sink) in my hall, a short walk from my room.  I loved living just a 5 minute walk from all of my classrooms, and eating dinner every night in the dining hall (cost extra) with new friends. 

There is, however, one downside to living in Founders - over the four week Easter break you need to move out of your room. It costs extra to stay in another room in the building for the holiday, or you can pay to put your things in storage if you choose to go travelling or stay somewhere else. There are other accommodation options on/near campus that are let for the entire two terms, including vacation periods (Wedderburn, Runnymede, Kingswood).

Budget 

Accommodation for two terms in Founders Hall cost $7000, not including food. Meals in the dining hall are half-price for students, approximately $6 for a hot dinner. A train to London cost $20 return, from Egham station (that is with a 30% discount when using a "16 - 25 Railcard", which costs $60 to purchase - definitely worthwhile if you plan to travel extensively in the UK!).  A pint of cider/beer at the bars on campus cost $7, a ticket for the movies $17 or you could nab a ticket for the theatre (special prices on the day) for $40 - $60. 

How much you budget depends entirely on personal preference, and the style of exchange you want to have.  I would recommend having at least $15,000, more if you want to see more of Europe while you are in England.  If staying in Founders Hall remember to save money for extra accommodation over the Easter Vacation!

Academic Development and Employability 

Going on exchange has helped me develop several skills that I believe will enhance my employability, especially my organisational, time management and interpersonal skills - I planned the entire adventure myself, and had practice with problem solving when I encountered obstacles. As a student of history I especially valued being able to visit historically relevant sites while learning about them. 

For example, a week after a lecture on the beginnings of the European Union I visited the European Parliament in Brussels. It was a well contextualised and very engaging learning experience.

Highlight 

The single highlight of my exchange experience was meeting and making so many new friends - I now have mates in cities all around the world, who I can visit the next time I go travelling (hopefully very soon!).

Top Tips 

I would advise prospective UQ Abroad applicants to start planning very early, but remain flexible. The host institution and accommodation may have different and (sometimes) frustrating procedures in place, but if you know your plan and still have the ability to adapt and accommodate, it will go very smoothly and surely be a highly rewarding experience.

Also, in your early planning, research and budget for travel around Europe. London is so well connected with destinations across the continent that it would be silly not to make the most of it!