Declan - University of Exeter

B Biomedical Science
Semester 1, 2016

Academic Experience

I studied BIO3041 (Pharmacology and Medical Chemistry), BIO3080 (Microbial Effectors of Disease), SOC1028 (Media and Society) and SOC1004 (Introduction to Social Data).

Overall these courses had a fairly light workload (no practical classes for science modules) which was handy for travelling. The content was similar to UQ however there was less of it as the semester was shorter and only around 20 lectures from each course were examinable (as opposed to 35+ at UQ for most science modules). The style of this university was more self-directed learning, which was both good and bad. Tutorials were infrequent and not very well run which is something that definitely could have been improved.

Personal Experience

My favourite aspect of exchange was definitely the people that I met along the way. Whether it be the other international students whom I lived with (who were all really great) or even the travelling strangers I met travelling; they all extended my world view and taught me so much about their culture and how they viewed ours.

There were 6 nationalities in my flat alone; including two Australians, a New Zealander, a German, a Spaniard, a Finn and a guy Hong Kong. We become somewhat of a multicultural family and had many dinners/parties showing off our individual cultures (Australia day was our day to shine).

Accommodation

I lived in "on-campus" housing in a block named James Owen Court. I say this loosely as it's a university run apartment block but it's in the middle of town about a 15 minute walk from the main campus. However they still advertise it as "on-campus". I paid roughly $6500 AUD for 6 months residence, and for that I got an ensuite room (equipped with shower, toilet and sink) in a 7 bedroom apartment. The apartment also had a kitchen (but all kitchen equipment had to be bought by us, only large items were included).

Budget 

At the time of my exchange, the pound compared to the Australian dollar was at a very low point. I think as a whole trip (7 months including travel and everything) ended up costing me approximately $25000 AUD. This was even with pretty strict budgeting with travel and spending while still in Exeter. Tesco is your friend, and the food is pretty cheap in comparison to back here in Australia. A usual shop for the week would cost me around 20-40 pounds depending on what I bought. A normal night out was quite cheap as well, costing around 20 pounds for a big night.

If you're looking for cheap places to travel, look out of the UK. Spain was one of the cheapest countries I went to (and also one of the best) so I would definitely recommend it if you're on a tight budget (or not, it's still great!).

Professional Development & Employability

The biggest challenge I had to overcome during my time away was being so far away from family and friends. They tell you in the departure meeting that you'll get homesick and I thought "oh no that won't be me"; but trust me, at some point it will be! I got past this by embracing the cultures of the people I lived with. By doing so I found a great affinity for other cultures; this will undoubtedly help me correspond with scientists of other cultural backgrounds later in my career.

Highlights 

I'd have to say the highlight of my experience on exchange was the people that I lived with. Before I met them I was sure that I'd be sick of my flatmates by the end of the 6 months there, but the opposite happened. We all become so close that it felt like splitting the family unit up. The free music festival Radio One Big Weekend also happened to be in Exeter while I was there, which was a brilliant experience and was another highlight!

Top Tips

  • Do a lot of research concerning universities you want to go to; look at academic reviews and travel time to other places.
  • Exeter has an airport, but the flights out are very expensive. Bristol is the closest airport that Ryanair and Easyjet operate out of.
  • Do NOT buy the click to campus essentials package; my friends bought this and the standard of items was awful to say the least. Buy what you need from Primark, Wilko and Poundland.
  • Buses are a great way to travel on a budget! 5 hours from Exeter to London on the bus for 5 pounds. Trains took 3 and a half hours but were upwards of 60 pounds.
  • Cavern was a good nightclub, go check it out!
  • J.K. Rowling based the leaky cauldron off Firehouse, they also have the best pizzas ever!