Savannah - University of Surrey

B Finance / B Laws
Semester 2, 2017

Academic Experience

I studied finance courses from my Commerce Degree while at Surrey. I studied derivatives and hedging, econometrics, international trade and a computer management subject. The best part about jumping in to a different academic system and a new university was the refreshing change it gave to my mindset about studying. I also really enjoyed that my subjects were taught from the UK perspective as opposed to the Australian perspective, so I was able to learn a lot about the UK economy. A challenge I faced was balancing studying with personal and travel experience, however, at the end of the semester i overcame this by dedicating consistent time to studying for finals and managed to both catch up on work and do well in the exams.

Personal Experience

On exchange I definitely gained a lot of new friends and relations. Every day you are meeting new people and forming relationships, most of which become very deep and that you will keep forever. I also gained a lot of travel experiences, the total was about 12 countries throughout Europe including the UK, which was an amazing experience being able to travel so many different cultures and landscapes. On a personal level, I developed a new appreciation for the social/adventurous side of life including the value of relationships with people and the value of exploration. I also developed a lot more independence, positiveness and a much calmer approach to difficult situations.

Accommodation

I lived in non-catered on-campus accommodation. I loved living on campus because it was very social and also very convenient being on the campus. I lived with 14 other people, in a building with 4 flats in it and surrounded by other apartment blocks, so it was very social. I 100% recommend living on-campus if it is offered, because it is a lot of fun living around so many students and you are constantly socialising and meeting people.

Budget 

How much to budget for exchange varies a lot depending on how much travel you do and how cheaply you are prepared to live. I did a huge amount of travel (before exchange, during exchange, and after exchange) so I budgeted around $16000-$17000 AUD (including the OS Help Loan). However, if you weren't travelling before and after, only during semester occasionally, you could definitely budget a lot less than this. Rent at my uni was around $3500 in total for the semester. Tesco groceries are very cheap, and you can save a lot of money by shopping cheaply and not eating out too much. Transport in Surrey wasn't too much of a concern because you can walk to most places, however trains in and out of London were about 13 pounds return. To make the most out of your exchange environment, and not feel like you are missing out on anything, I would definitely budget a minimum of $10,000. I would recommend taking more though and travelling while you have the opportunity to go anywhere you like.

Professional Development & Employability

The level of independence I have developed has contributed largely in my professional development, as I now have a lot more ability on my own. Further, the increased social skills I developed through meeting so many new people has definitely contributed to my professional development, enhancing my communication skills particularly with people you have never met before. Lastly, I think a more adventurous and risk-taking attitude that I gained on exchange has contributed to my professional development in terms of branching out of my comfort zone and putting myself forward into new or challenging environments.

Highlights 

It would be too difficult to narrow my exchange highlights down to 1 in particular. Generally, however, the highlights of my experience would include the close friendships I made with people, living and adapting to an entirely different culture in a different country, all of the travel I was able to do while on exchange, and definitely the excitement and positivity that you are constantly immersed in.

Top Tips

Advice I would give for students considering exchange or going in the future would be:

  • Definitely go! You might not get the chance to do something like this ever again and you certainly won't regret it
  • Don't be too nervous because from the moment you arrive it is so easy to fit in, start making friends, adjust to culture, etc.
  • Travel as much as you can (before, during and after)
  • Try not to say "no" to any opportunities that arise while on exchange and you will find yourself doing adventurous things and memorable experiences