Rachel - University of Surrey

Bachelor of International Hotel and Tourism Management
Semester 1, 2018

Academic experience

MAN2138 Comparitive Country Studies

This was my least favourite course - I found it was more International Relations focused with a lot of theory to cover. At times I had quite a lot of trouble understanding the lecturer due to her accent but luckily the textbooks assigned to the course were helpful. I found the tutorials very unhelpful - we'd be told to have a group discussion for the first 3/4 of the class (which few participated in) while the tutor did marking/other work and then we'd have a 10/15 minute discussion at the end.

MAN2113 Operations Analysis

A great course, thanks to the practical work involved (live hotel simulation). Both lecturers were fantastic and I had heaps of fun in the tutorial groups. It was one of the few times throughout my academic career that I enjoyed group work and group assignments. 

MAN2121 Rooms Division Management

Another one of my favourites as we got to do 2 days of work experience at a local Holiday Inn, and see how a hotel is run and managed. The theory was interesting and the lecturer/tutor often got guest speakers in to give us relevant insight.

MAN3130 Sustainable Operations

Looked really promising at the start of the semester, especially with a group project that would give us the opportunity to have our work published on a live website for an african wholesaler. We did have to do group sign-ons on the surreylearn website which wasn't communicated to us at the start of the semester so I ended up with a not so great group. This is a final year final semester course which I would not recommend for exchange students as the expectation for self-lead study and investigations is much higher than that of other courses I did at surrey.


Enrollment and registration for these courses was very easy and straightforward. Unlike UQ there is no class sign on - you go to what classes the timetabling office has rostered you. If you had a conflict in your schedule the timetabling team would see what other courses were available and suggest you switch class.

Personal experience

I made some excellent new friends with other exchange students, international students who had relocated to Surrey and local students. I experienced life on-campus for the first time which was so rewarding! As of my return to Australia, I've now visited 27 countries which is something I'd never imagined doing. My time on exchange and self-travelling taught me to trust in my abilities, improve my problem-solving, how to budget, how to look after my health (physical and mental) and to appreciate my fantastic life in Australia. I did things I never thought possible and in the process learnt that I, with a little perseverance, I can do anything I set my mind to.

Most unexpectedly, I also gained a partner who I met whilst on exchange! We travelled together while I was in the UK, we have a trip to Thailand planned in the September break and he is applying to do his working holiday visa here next year! I guess you never know who you might meet overseas!

Accommodation

I lived on campus at Battersea Court at Stag Hill campus (main campus location). It was fairly basic but affordable. I was in a Band B room which included its own sink/mirror which came in very handy! Battersea Court is at the highest point of the campus so be prepared to walk 7/8 flights of stairs a day. At least I got my exercise in!

Costs

For the actual exchange period I spent around $15,000 on accommodation, transport, food, entertainment, travel and my flights to/from the UK. I left Australia at the end of November and solo travelled around the US, the Caribbean and mainland Europe until the start of semester in February so that cost around another $10k on top, of which I had saved prior to exchange.

Professional Development 

Problem solving, teamwork, communication with people from different cultures and backgrounds, time management, self-directed study, self-motivation, discipline, perseverance, self-reflection.

Highlight

I hiked the 28km round-trip trail to Trolltunga, a stone formation 1100m above sea level. Prior to exchange, I was the type of person who'd order food 2-3 times a week and rolled my eyes at the thought of walking from West End into the City. When I started class at Surrey, I took up jogging 3 times a week, worked hard to eat properly and aimed to keep my body and mind as healthy as possible so I could enjoy every opportunity that came my way.  Trolltunga was by far the most difficult thing I've ever done - it requires patience, perseverance, discipline and motivation to keep you going kilometer after kilometer. But the reward is incredible! And, I have a new hobby to keep me busy in Australia!

Top tips

Be open to every opportunity that comes your way! Drinks with new exchange friends? Yes! A weekend trip to a nearby city? Yes! So many of my greatest memories come from last minute plans where I just thought, why not?

Surrey is very much self-directed learning, which suited me perfectly as I found it much easier to do things at my own pace. This means though that you're not going to get weekly reminders to start assignments - get on top of that ASAP so you have more time to explore on the weekends! Set yourself a timeline for your weekly goals (ie, have an introduction written by xyz date). I found that I was so much more relaxed when due dates rolled around because I was on top of everything and I had more time for proofreading! Despite warnings that Surrey's marking system is much harder than UQ's, I found I did better on my assignments than usual. I definitely think the prior planning assisted! Plus, I could reward myself for my hard work with a trip somewhere!

Work hard leading up to your departure and save as much money as possible so you've got extra 'play money' so you can keep having new adventures. Especially for the UK, the AUD is roughly 1/2 that of the GBP so account for losing half of what you have to exchange rates. When you're on exchange, try to make sensible decisions for day-to-day costs. Little things like sticking to a shopping list, limiting how often you eat out on campus and making sure you use your 16-25 rail card in the cheaper hours can help save money.  

Look at buying an around-the-world ticket. For only $100 extra, I was able to fly via the US to Europe! Also buy the 16-25 rail card that the university will mention to you during orientation. That thing saves so much money. Keep an eye out for deals with Thomas Cook and TUI who offer great last-minute all-inclusive packages to places like the Greek Islands, Croatia, Spain and Egypt. I chose to spend extra for a nicer resort in Egypt, but you can get cheaper deals if you're willing to stay somewhere a little older!

If you're considering studying in the UK, definitely look at choosing a university outside of London. Not only is it cheaper, but you can really have an authentic experience. Surrey is a fantastic location - 45 minutes from London Waterloo but out in beautiful, scenic countryside! Plus, it has a direct train to London Gatwick airport which has heaps of cheap flights to around Europe!

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An unforgettable, life-changing experience!