Billie - University of Surrey

Bachelor of Business Management/Journalism
Semester 1, 2018
I'm Surrey not Surrey that I completely loved this exchange experience and couldn't recommended it highly enough!

Academic experience

I studied business courses while at the university as my journalism courses were not offered. During my time I decided to complete a course on Entrepreneurship and Innovation with Mr Lanhem-New. This was one of my favourite courses as Mr Lanhem-New was very captivating and charismatic. This course also enabled me to participate in group work which provided me with an opportunity to converse and work with local students. I would recommend choosing at least one course with an element of group assessment as it enables you to engage with students from various backgrounds and it is a great way to meet new people! During orientation week I was required to meet with my exchange advisor and discuss my courses and learning agreement. The University of Surrey does not require you to 'sign on' to courses as your timetable is completed by staff and made available to you during orientation week. The grading system is different to that of UQ. However, this is explained during the orientation lectures for incoming exchange students during the first week.

Personal experience

There were approximately 100 students that participated in the exchange program at the University of Surrey in Semester 1, 2018. The university provided frequent events for the exchange community which included bowling and trips to Bristol. Throughout these experiences I met the most beautiful group of girls, who I then travelled with during our Spring Break. I would recommend keeping the month break free until you arrive as it is a great opportunity to organise to travel with new people and be spontaneous! Over Easter these girls and I were able to travel to Iceland, Copenhagen, Russia, Finland and Sweden. Everywhere we went we endeavoured to learn certain words in the respective language and try various types of local cuisine.

Accommodation

I lived in a shared room (Band A) with my sister at Stag Hill Court. We shared a bathroom with two other women and a kitchen with eight other people. Stag Hill is the closest accommodation to the Student Union where the student committee hosts frequent events and the university night club, 'Rubix,' comes alive every Wednesday and Friday nights! Stag Hill court also had a reception where you were able to collect mail and host small parties. 
There is another residence called Manor Park that is about a fifteen minute walk from the university campus. However, it is located right next to Surrey Sports Park. The Sports Park offers a membership deal for exchange students and has excellent facilities.

Costs

The cost of rent is dependent on which band of accommodation you choose to stay in. If you select to reside in an ensuite room your accommodation will be dearer than those opting to stay in a shared facility. 
With regards to the cost of food, I would recommend doing a big grocery shop and meal prep once a week as it will save you time and money. There is a small grocery store located on campus in the library (Simply Fresh), however, it is more expensive than the local Tescos, so I would only go there for smaller purchases. 
The trains were more expensive than I had anticipated so I would definitely recommend purchasing a Rail Card (16-25) as it entitles you to 30% off each train journey and as London is only a 35 minute train ride away, you will most definitely get your use out of it!
In terms of entertainment, I would suggest going to as many concerts as you can as the UK gets some amazing artists - like Shakira - and concert tickets are quite reasonable. 
Additionally, I would recommend downloading the UniDays application as they offer some fantastic discounts - e.g. 30% off at local restaurants in Guildford! 

Professional Development

I believe that this exchange experience has increased my cultural competency as I was consistently conversing with people from various backgrounds during my stay at university and while I travelled. Exploring new places gave me a sense of perspective and a newfound independence as you are forced to rely solely on yourself. Overall, I found the whole experience character building as it encouraged you to get out of your comfort zone and I couldn't be happier that I did!

Highlight

One of the highlights of my experience was going to Greece!
At the end of my exchange my family came over as my brother was selected to row at Henley Royal Regatta in England and afterwards we all travelled to Greece! European summer is truly something else and if you get the chance to do any European travel I would definitely encourage you to do so!
Another place I loved was the town of Shere in Surrey. This little town was located approximately twenty minutes away from Guildford and it is where the movie 'The Holiday' was filmed. I watch this movie every year at Christmas time so to be able to go there and eat dinner in the local pub (The White Horse) was very special.

Top tips

DO IT! I cannot recommend this experience highly enough. I have made the most beautiful friends and seen parts of the world that I never thought I would get to see! To do it while studying made it all the more special as well as Guildford became like a second home to me! I would definitely recommend spending some time at the Lake, Guildford Castle and High Street as these were three of my favourite places while I was there!