Olivia - Loughborough University

B. Biomedical Science
Semester 1, 2018
Exchange showed me a new depth to life that I wouldn't have discovered if I hadn't jumped out of my comfort zone. I would advise anyone to go on it to learn about themselves and the world.

Academic experience

I studied human biology, psychology, exercise science, anatomical neuroscience, and nutrition. I was lucky to be at a world class sporting institution where I could learn from the experts. The study load was a little difference, because to be considered full-time I had to study 6 smaller courses. This enabled me to learn a great range of topics, however it meant that I had to stay current on more subjects which was a new experience for me. I was lucky enough to have some of my courses count as specified credits, but I had fun looking through all the course profiles and reading the topics and learning aims of each course.

Personal experience

Exchange really developed me as a person, as well as allowing me some of the greatest adventures I've had. I studied at the UK's No. 1 institute for sport, which put me in contact with some very knowledgeable nutritionists, as well as allowing me to have access to their award-winning fitness facilities complete with free personal training. On the academic note, I was also able to work in a laboratory with different research focuses to the ones that UQ has to offer.

I loved immersing myself in a similar, albeit new culture. Being alone really challenged me to develop my personal and social skills, and I believe I'm a better communicator because of this. I loved the extracurricular that Loughborough University had to offer, and received many qualifications and event opportunities through their Coaching and Volunteering Academy.

Another obvious perk of being in England was it's proximity to Europe. I enjoyed $20 flights to Spain and touring the local villages.

Accommodation

I lived on campus known as "halls". They're similar to colleges at UQ except that you have the option to be self-catered, or catered. This means that you will generally be living with people of a similar level of independence which makes it easier to get along. I would advise people to live in halls, (I chose non-catered because it was much cheaper, and allowed me to choose what I cooked and ate) because it provides a much greater social involvement, compared to living on your own or with a couple of housemates. The host university had some helpful websites describing the different halls which I found very helpful.

Budget

Exploring London with locals.

I personally spend a bit more than I would have if I was simply living at home, because I took the opportunity to travel and experience things that I wouldn't normally at home (such as eating out, flights, new foods etc.)

I paid $4000 (AUD) on accommodation, roughly $40 per week on food, and $30 per week on "extras" such as shopping, activities like rock climbing and bike riding and bus fares. Flights can be particularly cheap if you buy them at the right time on the right website, and suitable clothing can be bought very economically from second hand stores - I'd strongly recommend this for cold climates as Australian clothes are not built for the cold. Overall I think I spent $7000 (AUD) including flights and accommodation in Europe. It all depends on the levels of luxury you like.

Challenge

The biggest challenge during my experience was maintaining social contacts back home - particularly with my partner. In the end I found that it actually significantly improved my communication skills and strengthened my relationships, but I had to read a lot of books and articles and download a lot of apps to get there.

Professional development and employability

So many! I build upon my:

  • qualifications in coaching and first aid,
  • scientific research development through the lab I worked in,
  • social skills when meeting new people,
  • relationship building skills through contact with friends at home,
  • organisational skills firstly through the event I was tasked to organise by the uni, and secondly through my own personal travel,
  • fitness by being at a world class sporting institute,
  • understanding of administration processes,
  • general understanding of different cultures and backgrounds of people who live in different countries.

Overall I think the key developments were confidence, and an understanding of different administration processes.

Highlight

Spending time with my flatmates and having them introduce me to typically "British" sayings and activities.

Top tips

  • Join facebook groups for things you're interested in over there.
  • Say yes to any opportunity that sounds fun. You get a story either way.
  • Buy clothes suitable for the climate of the country OVER there whether second hand or from a store.
  • Join the CVA (Coach & Volunteer Academy)!
Olivia - Loughborough University