Oliver - University College London

B Advanced Science
Semester 2, 2016

Academic Experience

At UCL, I studied Quantum Physics (PHAS2222=UQ PHYS2041), Electromagnetic Theory (PHAS3201=UQ PHYS3051), and Mathematical Methods III (PHAS2246 (parts of this course are similar to MATH2100 so I only applied for an elective credit). The teaching at UCL differs quite a lot from physics at UQ. At UQ, there is a big push on active learning. At UCL, they still teach very traditionally simply using a whiteboard. There is a huge emphasis on reading around the work you have done in class, solidifying your lecture. There were no such pre readings, which was hard to adjust to. Practicals were not linked to these courses, so if you wanted to do labs you would have to sign up for another module. Since I was only there for term 1 at UCL, I sat oral examinations which proved to be tricky since I had never done them before. Don't let this put you off however as they were very relaxed and relatively stress free.

Personal Experience

Exchange is easily the best thing I have personally done in my life. Living in central London was quite an extraordinary experience. There are limitless things to do which make your exchange that much better. Being so close to continental Europe allowed for easy and affordable travel. Even during term time, if you are lucky enough to have a timetable where you have Friday or Monday off, it is more than achievable to have a weekend away in Amsterdam, Berlin, or anywhere really - make use of RyanAir and EasyJet! The friendships made on exchange surpassed any of my expectations. Whilst Australia is a multicultural country, exchange opens up so many possibilities to meet people from all around the world.

Accommodation 

Living in university halls was an amazing way to meet friends. Predominantly everyone in halls are in first year, so people are in the same boat as you and just as willing to make new friends. I stayed at Ifor Evans Halls, which were located in Camden Town. The rent was £174 per week, which included breakfast and dinner on weekdays. There were kitchens on every floor for lunches and weekends however. Ifor was in a fantastic location, and only a 15 minute bus ride into UCL. It is in a prime position such that both the tube and buses can get you to anywhere in London.

Budget 

From leaving Brisbane to returning, I spent approximately $16,000. This total included: university accomodation, 3 weeks of travel around Europe, return flights, individual trips to Singapore, Iceland, and Amsterdam, travel insurance, transport in London (which isn't overly cheap), food on weekends, trains around the UK to see family, concerts and plays, and nights out (which again isn't a cheap thing to do in London). This costs could have easily been reduced, so don't take this as a absolute estimate.

Professional Development & Employability

Exchange allowed me to learn how to adapt to a completely new way of learning. The overall experience of living in a new city, not knowing anyone, builds your character immensely. I think, purely on a personal level, it is the best possible thing to do in university, and employers will admire students doing it.

Highlights 

The highlight of the whole trip was being able to live in such a fast-paced vibrant city. London is without doubt such an exciting place to live, especially as a student. There are an abundance of free museums, countless pubs and bars, and so many beautiful parks to spend your time in. Going on exchange is so much more than an academic experience, so take the opportunity to do it.

Top Tips

You WILL need to get an oyster card when you are in London. It is easy enough to get one, simply go to a tube station and there will be customer service desks where you can buy one. Don't worry about buying clothes for the cold weather in Australia. Wait until you are in London as there are places (Primark) which have such cheap, good quality clothing. Lastly, plan for the possibility of not being able to do modules you initially chose to do. On the day before I started, I found a course I already had approval for wasn't available.