Sarah - University of Sussex

B Laws/ B Science
Semester 2, 2017

Academic Experience

I studied Computer Science at Sussex as I hadn't completed enough Law base courses to study that part of my dual degree overseas. Overall, I found the UK system very similar to that in Australia - my American friends found it much more tricky to adapt to a system with final exams or assignments worth the majority of your marks. Generally, you will have a Lecture and a Seminar (a tutorial) for each subject, and I found that lectures don't cover content as in-depth as at UQ, so there is a greater emphasis on weekly readings. Reduced contact hours are great for travelling and enjoying your exchange, but you will have to keep an eye out so that you don't fall behind.

Personal Experience

Exchange is an incredible experience that I would highly recommend doing!!!! It's an opportunity that you won't get again. My friends at UQ who have been on exchange agree that living and studying in a different country is incomparable to the usual travel experience: When you're on exchange you are no longer just a tourist, you can really absorb the local culture and forge strong friendships with the people you meet.

Being based in the UK is great for remaining in an English-speaking country (if you're not too excited about signing lease agreements in German) and still being close to the EU. I travelled around the UK with a friend for a month before my exchange, which I would highly recommend if you haven't seen much of the UK before. During my time in Brighton I also visited London frequently and did weekend visits to Paris, Amsterdam and Vienna. I also stayed in Brighton with my family after my exchange ended, which was a wonderful way to ease out of the vibrance of your exchange.

Accommodation

As on-campus accommodation is now limited for Sussex (as they take a lot of international students each year), I lived at the Langford's Hotel in Hove, which housed about 70 international students. We lived two streets away from the other hotel, Imperial, which also housed a similar number of students. Hove is a beautiful part of the Brighton/Hove city, with beach huts, seaside lawns and pretty cafes (like Gail's Bakery, Bo, and iGigi General Store). It's also a bit more quiet, but was only a thirty minute walk into central Brighton, or a ten minute bus. It did take about an hour to get into university though, because of the bus routes. Look into the SoBi bicycles and cycling to campus, if you're interested in cutting your travel time.

Overall, the living arrangements had their positives and negatives, but the positives definitely outweighed the negatives for me. I met so many amazing people and learnt so much about different countries, because of the cultural diversity. We mainly hung out in the common room downstairs or in the spacious lobby area. If we went out we were two minutes from the beach, which is a stunning viewpoint for afternoon sunsets (and has a pretty walk to the Palace pier!).

Langford's common room was connected to the kitchen and next to the laundry (which had two washers and two dryers, £1 per half hour). There were issues with sharing the kitchen with so many students - it got very messy and things were stolen - but the common area was a great space.

Going from living at home with my parents, to living with so many different people, was something I loved. But, it's not for everyone and you could try finding a shared house or even campus accommodation. The problem with shared housing is that many leases require you to be there for at least 12 months, so watch out for that. One of my friends didn't have accommodation for two weeks into the uni semester because he was trying to find a share house, and he really struggled!

Budget 

I would definitely say that £5000 for the semester is an accurate budget for living comfortably and experiencing as much as you can. Travel (depending on how much you do) adds on to that, and if you're planning on travelling quite a bit, I would probably recommend the higher end of $15,000 - $20,000 for your exchange.

Rent at the hotel cost me a little over £2100 (about £160/week). Twin share rooms only paid about £1700 (£130/week), which saves you quite a bit of money and the conditions can be really good, but it's a bit luck-of-the-draw. You can get a better rate if you are in a share house, but as I mentioned before, that can be a struggle to find.

Generally, what you spend on food, transport, entertainment and travel depends on how much you're doing any of those things, but if you have saved enough/budgeted appropriately you can do a lot more than you think!

I would recommend the 90 day bus pass - you will use it! Make sure it's the NetworkSaver (not the CitySaver), otherwise you won't be able to visit the Seven Sisters cliffs, Eastbourne, Devil's Dyke and the Southdowns, or catch night buses. You can get the ticket on the app on your phone (as well as shorter time span tickets), or a physical card from the shop on North Street near Churchill Square.

There are so many touristy things to do in and around Brighton and Hove, and definitely check out Seven Sisters to do on a clear day, but do your research and figure out what you would be interested in visiting.

Nightlife in Brighton is always buzzing, and you can save money by looking out for clubs that have drink deals on certain nights, or free entry before 12. The Sussex student union also runs a few bars in Brighton so have a look at them, they have student deals. Remember that you will have to pay a few pounds for your coat to be stored in the cooler months - and this can add up if you're out a lot!

A pub you must visit is the Lion & Lobster, especially for Sunday roasts, and also get a burger from Burger Brothers, which is a Brighton specialty. Don't forget to explore the many other restaurants, pubs, cafes and shops in the Lanes - the Brighton Lanes are famous for a reason!

Professional Development & Employability

Exchange undoubtedly encourages personal growth and it's a wonderful way to explore your independence.

Highlights

The highlight of my experience would have to be living in Brighton, for its progressive and exciting vibe, and the incredible people I met while I lived there who made it feel like home.

Top Tips

  • Research what you want to see around and near Brighton, there are so many places close by

  • Fly from Gatwick airport if you're going to Europe, and book in advance for cheap deals

  • Get a national express youth coach card if you will travelling the UK

  • If you go into London, get a day travel card for £23 (£15 if you go as a group of 3 or more) as it includes unlimited travel on the tube and on buses around London for that day, and is your return ticket to Brighton

  • Shop at Aldi! Or get ASDA deliveries

  • Use GiffGaff or 3 for a UK sim!