Jeremy - University College London

B. Science
Semester 2, 2018
Having the opportunity to study UCL was a truly incredible experience.

Academic experience

I studied three third year courses: The Neurobiology of Neurodegenerative Diseases, Biology of Ageing, and Mechanisms of Development (extended). These were the equivalent of four subjects at UQ. The course selection was only available the week before university started, and many of the choices were different to those that I had submitted to UQ for approval, however the UCL staff were extremely accommodating and I was able to have my subjects approved reasonably quickly by the UQ abroad team, which allayed any worries about this process.

Personal experience

I was able to get such a wide range of experiences out of this exchange, be it travelling around Europe, the ability to learn at one of the best tertiary institutions worldwide, and to have a bunch of crazy times that I otherwise would never had have the opportunity to take. The best experience was just being able to live and learn in London, rather than to just travel through it, since it really is an amazing place to be.

Accommodation

I lived Ramsay Hall, a UCL-run accommodation that was 3 minutes walk from the main quad of UCL. Having catered accommodation certainly made life much easier, and provided a chance for intellectual discussion with a wide range of students at meal times. There were 400 people at Ramsay, and one shared common room, and thus it was very easy to make friends and mix with people.

Budget

Accommodation cost £215 a week at Ramsay Hall, however this included catering and the opportunity to live in the middle of the bustling metropolis that is London. On top of this, I would most likely have spent another £100 a week on miscellaneous items. London is by and large an expensive city, but living in it, you quickly work out how to save money, whether it be the half-priced itsu an hour before it closes, or various student deals that exist. At UCL a favourite money saver is the free curries provided by Hari Krishners for lunch each day.

Challenge

Hitchhiking across the UK.

The biggest challenge was to break out from the exchange groups that are very easy to become contained within, and to make friends with students who were studying at UCL full-time. By going out of your way to build friendships, you can experience a huge number of wider experiences that only 'local' students have the knowledge about and in doing so you end up with a much stronger connection to the university itself.

Professional development

The independence of having to build a life from scratch in a foreign country was something that certainly allowed me to grow as a person, and I believe there are many lessons that this has taught me that I can apply back in Australia.

Highlight

The experiences were flying thick and fast so it's exceedingly hard to distal 4 months into one highlight. I was lucky enough to sit in the owners box to watch a Harlequins game, hitchhike around the UK dressed as a banana for charity, play cricket on Oxford Street at 4am as the Christmas decorations were being set up, and sit in to some unfathomably stimulating lectures from world-class academics. However, as cliched as it sounds, the highlight for me was the lifelong friendships that I made with the people I lived amongst at Ramsay Hall, because that's what made the whole experience so amazing.

Top tips

The best advice that I can give for those considering an exchange at UCL is to really take the initiative to become involved in as many activities as possible. There is such a diverse array of interest groups and sporting teams, and through them you get the chance to do things that you would never otherwise have been able to.