Emma - University of Leeds

B Commerce
Semester 1, 2016

Academic Experience

I chose to study Career Development 2, Pompeii: Past, Present and Future, Traditional Alcoholic Beverages, and Introduction to Environmental Science. I really enjoyed these subjects as they were a welcome change from my usual accounting classes. I particularly found Career Development 2 to be a very informative class, especially as I approach graduation.

The UK grading system is very different and was difficult to understand but the pass mark is 40% and I found the course work to be easier than UQ so I didn’t let it worry me too much as long as I completed my work.

Personal Experience

I gained so much from studying abroad. As someone who is usually quite shy, it was so worthwhile to push myself out of my comfort zone. I became friends with people from all over the world, travelled to places I’d only ever dreamed of visiting, and had the opportunity to push myself to be more independent and confident.

England is so close to Europe, so even weekend trips away were cheap and easy. My favourite places I visited were Edinburgh, Budapest, Bern and Greece, but even the nearby towns, York and Harrogate, were gorgeous and worth a visit (check out Betty’s Tea Rooms if you get a chance).

Accommodation

I stayed in Devonshire Hall which is off-campus university accommodation. I was in a self-catered room with an en-suite, and shared a kitchen with my 3 flatmates. Devonshire Hall also has its own gym facilities which was very convenient. It was a 20 minute walk to campus or about 10 minutes on the bus. I loved where I was as there was a café, 24 hour store, pub, and fast food spot all within a 5 minute walk, as well as a strip of supermarkets, pubs and other stores in Headingley 20 minutes in the opposite direction.

Other university accommodations were nice and had newer facilities but I thought my location was perfect for my needs. Two of my flatmates were English so they were the only British people I regularly hung out with, but it’s easy enough to meet more locals in classes and university clubs and societies.

Budget 

Devonshire Hall definitely wasn’t the cheapest accommodation option as I paid £3102 for a self-catered, en-suite room on a 19 week contract. I spent about £20-£30 a week on groceries but would often get lunch on campus and spend £5-£10. If you’re going out, expect to spend about £20 on drinks plus the cost of admission which can be anywhere from £1 to £30 depending on where you’re going, when you buy your ticket, and if there’s a special event on. I tried to walk as many places as possible to avoid the £1-£2 bus tickets which tally up and could be spent on trips away.

I ended up spending about 1.5 months travelling in total which ended up being the most expensive part. I researched living costs from other testimonials and the University of Leeds websites and came to a budget of about $25,000.

Professional Development & Employability

Going on exchange opened me up to a whole new world of opportunities. Travelling through a country where everyone speaks another language in the middle of the night does amazing things for your confidence and independence. Being in a new country where you know no one forces you to be more open to people and experiences which is definitely something I needed. Being prepared to have to adapt to new environments and people allowed me to get the most out of my exchange.

Highlights 

It is so hard to pinpoint the one ultimate highlight of my experience so I have three:

  1. The opportunity to meet and befriend people from all over the world. It’s incredible to experience 6 months in an entirely new place with all new people and come out the other side with some of the best memories of your life.
  2. Being able to see some of the world so easily. Travelling from Australia is hard so I made the most of my time on the other side of the world and was able to visit 12 countries in 6 months.
  3. Snowriders Ski Trip to Val Thorens. The university has a ski club which runs an annual trip. You have to get in quick and it’s not the cheapest trip but it was such an amazing week. I met so many more students from Leeds and became great friends with my roommates, and now have the best memories of that time.

Top Tips 

  • For all the stress and difficulties of picking a university, picking subjects, finding the money to afford it, and sending yourself off across the world on your own, going on exchange is the best thing you can do if you have the chance.
  • If you have electives, save them for your semester abroad – it will make your life so much easier!
  • Book your travel as early as you can – everything gets more expensive the closer to the date you are (I learnt this from personal experience & multiple times).
  • Save as much money as you can – it’s much more freeing to have a bit of leniency with your budget when you’re travelling.
  • Say yes to every person, opportunity and experience that comes your way (within reason of course – stay safe!). You want to make the most of your time abroad.
  • Back your photos up as often as you can!! Make a private album on Facebook, or use iCloud or Google Drive – it’ll be less disastrous if your phone gets stolen with half a trip’s worth of photos this way…