Tonisha - University of Edinburgh

B Communication/ B Arts
Semester 2, 2016

Academic Experience

Even though I have three majors (Mass Communication, International Relations and History) at UQ, I focused on one major and therefore only studied three history courses at the University of Edinburgh. For me, these three courses (60 credits) were equivalent to #8 units at UQ. I found the academic experience at UoE to be quite different to UQ, as my history subjects utilised a seminar format rather than the lecture/tutorial format I was used to at UQ. This meant that I had a 2 hour seminar for each class each week, where we had in-depth discussions about the assigned reading material and the overall topic for that week. My tutors were all really helpful and were definitely considerate of the fact that I was coming from a different university system. I found that there was less work to complete which allowed more time for travelling and social events—things that you'll be doing a lot of!

Personal Experience

Studying abroad was one of the best experiences of my life. I've always wanted to live in a different country, and studying abroad was the best option for me to do this while still continuing my university degree. You're constantly pushed outside of your comfort zone, whether that comes in the form of travelling in countries where they speak another language, making friends, feeling homesick at times, and even studying at a new university. But I learned that I was able to deal with these things and so I had an amazing and extremely rewarding experience.

Accommodation 

I lived in Meadow Court Sciennes, which is approximately a 10 minute walk from George Square Campus, 15 minutes to Pollock Halls, and a 20 minute walk to Princes Street so it was in a very ideal location. It's self-catered accommodation, so you have to cook your own meals. I found this ideal because I was able to choose the food that I was eating and also when I wanted to eat. This was good because it meant I wasn't doubling up on paying for a meal when we went out for dinner as some friends had to do in Pollock Halls. My flat only had one bathroom (but two toilets) and one smallish fridge for 5 people, which was difficult at times but never became a real issue. We were lucky enough to have a washer/dryer in our flat too which was free to use.

Budget 

Rent is one of the most costly expenses during your exchange. I'd recommend paying for it fully before you get there so it's one less thing to worry about. I didn't have to pay for much transport around Edinburgh because I was able to walk everywhere, but on the occasion that it was raining or really windy I took the bus which costs £1.60. I budgeted £30 a week for groceries and I was able to stick to it. When you travel around Scotland, I'd recommend the buses as they're generally cheaper than trains. I visited Glasgow a few times and took the bus each time. Make sure you keep an eye out for cheap travel deals like Ryan Air and Easy Jet cheap flights. Flexibility is key when you're looking for a cheap travel deal.

Professional Development & Employability

I think having such a reputable institution like the University of Edinburgh on my resume will be extremely beneficial. My exchange experience made me more tolerant and appreciative of other people, customs and cultures. Travelling made me realise that I'm competent and capable in stressful situations, which is extremely important for personal and professional development.

Highlights 

One highlight was the people I met during my exchange and the time I spent travelling before and after exchange. I was lucky enough to become friends with a big group of Australians (who were mostly from Brisbane), so it was amazing to be able to come home and still see them on a regular basis. I also have many friends who live in different parts of the world, so I will be able to visit them when I go travelling again. Another highlight of my experience was how easy it was to travel around Europe and the UK when you're based in Edinburgh. I managed to go to Oktoberfest in Munich, I saw Australia play England in the Rugby League Four Nations game in London, I went to the Isle of Skye with friends, I stayed in Edinburgh for Hogmanay, plus many more amazing places and events!

Top Tips

Definitely check out International Student Tours; they offer many guided tours around Scotland which are great value (definitely do their Isle of Skye weekend trip!). Be sure to experience all the amazing things that Edinburgh has to offer, including hiking up Arthur's Seat, strolling along the Royal Mile, seeing the sunset at Calton Hill and so many more things! But most of all I cannot stress enough to make the most of each day and each situation, because unfortunately it will be over before you know it.