Kate - University College London

B Science
Semester 2, 2017

Academic Experience

The courses undertaken at UCL were; Integrative Physiology, Structure and Function of Nervous Systems, An Introduction to Human Genetics and Drugs and the Mind. All subjects were brilliantly fascinating and challenging while providing the freedom to travel and enjoy all aspects of the exchange experience. The thing I enjoyed most about the academic system was how intimate and small the class sizes were. Tutorials involved four students allocated to the lecturer at a time and and lectures themselves had just 80 students total. This opportunity tore down any barrier between the lecturer and they became a mentor, a companion and an inspiration to work with. I felt so valued and inspired to have doctors of such calibre work with me and believe in me.

A challenge to overcome in the system was having assignments and other assessment due over one month after my classes and time had ended at UCL. This meant I was working on assignments through my trips around Europe and having to arrange alternate methods to submit the paper as the course preferred to receive a hard copy.

Personal Experience

This truly was the experience of a lifetime. It is so brilliantly rare when you are given the opportunity to create a whole new life for yourself. The life in London I established was one I never wanted to leave behind. The friendships I made at UCL and in London will last a lifetime. UCL was so advanced that I felt like I was living ten years into the future. It was a global university that had perspectives far beyond its own borders. I made friends from Switzerland, the US, Canada, Mexico, Italy, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Bahrain, Spain and so much more. As we had all left our families back home so we became our own London family and it was a depth of friendship I have never known before. During the semester I was able to travel to Portugal, Greece, and Scotland, followed by a 5 week European tour.

The world is literally at your feet and you can conquer any dream you set your mind, especially when London holds all the opportunities.
It gave me so much confidence, knowing that I could leave behind everything and still make a dream life for myself. While I was at UCL I participated in so many societies but mainly Dance Society. This gave me the opportunity to perform in Showcases throughout London and to compete Nationally almost every other weekend. It made my experience one I will never forget. 

Accommodation 

I lived off-campus in a share house in Marylebone which I booked through 'Air BnB'. It was a quick walk away from uni and every morning I could go for a run from my place, past Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, the Eye, Westminster Abbey, and through St Jame's park to get back. It was a total dream. I loved living an independent life and not having to conform to housing conduct rules. My place became home and if ever I got lonely friends were around the corner for a sleepover and study night. 

I would say that it depends on what you want. Do you want to have instant connections with people, be surrounded by friends all day every day, and have food and cleaning provided? Then I would go for university housing. However, if you prefer having long days at uni coming home to your own space, whenever you want and being able to prepare meals the way you like and when you're ready for it. Then I would go for a share house or a short term rental. But at the end of the day student housing is the easiest way to meet people and make connections early. 

Budget

Living in London was rather expensive compared to Brisbane. However you will save, with simple tips like walking instead of taking transport, making meals in advanced for the week and knowing the best free things to do in London like all the museums, galleries and walks. To live comfortably and to include travel, accomodation , food and social activities I would budget close to 15, 000 pounds UK. The more you can save the more experiences you can buy. 

Professional Development & Employability

This experience has changed me in so many ways and I do not think I will be able to comprehend the full effect until I've been able to utilise those skills without the push of that inspiring city. More than anything I've been given the confidence to know that I can literally take on the world. I can pack up everything and leave everything that I know and start from nothing, only relying on my own skills. I loved seeing how far my skills could push me and the city of London and the university gave me every opportunity for my endeavours to come into fruition. 

Highlights 

How can I pick just one when every day either was a highlight or had to be used to build up to a day of shear joy and elation. My top academic experience was getting to work with Dr Brain King in physiology. We studied in laboratories right next to where Sterling discovered Sterling's law which completely evolved the way we understand cardiac contraction.

Then there was a weekend I spent in Mykonos. I travelled with a friend I met on exchange and we've become like sisters. The entire island was ours to explore and everywhere we strolled was a dream. I'll never forget what a local driver told us, "In Mykonos there is nothing. Just white buildings, a blank city. It is that stage, set for you to be the stars, to shine, and make this city your own wonderland. All you have to do is follow your heart through the winding cobble stoned streets and let the adventure begin.". We watched the sunset over the rooftops of white as they contrasted with the stark sparkling of the turquoise ocean. Magic. 

Top Tips

Go for the entire year!!!! It might seem intimidating at first and like it's too long to be away, but from the moment I got to London I never wanted to leave, let alone only be allowed to study there for 3 months. Save as much as you can and just travel like crazy, see everything and just say "yes" to everything and anything. You'll never know where a single decision to try can take you.