Lucy - University of Edinburgh

B. Business Management / Communication
Semester 2, 2018
Exchange provided me with friendships and experiences I will talk about and draw confidence from for the rest of my life.

Academic experience

I researched and selected my exchange subjects while I was still at UQ. Many of my friends in Edinburgh changed their subjects within the first week of arriving, so you do have that flexibility. Subject selection was more largely based on timetable structure then at UQ, you had to ensure that none of your subject contact hours clashed. In the second week of semester, you were automatically allocated tutorial/seminar times. Overall, I had far fewer contact hours studying the full time load at Edinburgh then at UQ. My busiest day had three hours of uni, but most had only one. This was a big adjustment for me, as I found I had much more time as I wasn't working either. The lecturers and tutors were very engaging but the content and assessment was no more difficult (perhaps slightly easier) then at UQ. Edinburgh also has a larger emphasis on exams than UQ, so throughout the whole semester I only submitted three assignments, and completed three exams worth 60-70% each. The emphasis on self-motivated study was definitely higher; as an exchange student motivation proved somewhat difficult but this structure certainly provided a more relaxed semester - ideal for someone looking to make the most of their time abroad!

Personal experience

On exchange I met some of the most amazing people, and had some incredible experiences with them. I arrived in the UK 7 weeks before the semester started (late July) and spent five of those weeks backpacking by myself in Europe. This was almost certainly a highlight of my time abroad, and I would recommend solo travel to anyone. By the end of my six months away, I had visited 14 countries and gained so much self-confidence from that. Its incredible what you can manage by yourself when you don't have anyone else to rely on. Once in Edinburgh I went to Isle of Skye and St Andrews with the Exchange Society, and to several different cities in Scotland as part of the University Basketball team. I would recommend you take every opportunity to travel, but some of my favourite places were Aarhus and Copenhagen (Denmark), Krakow (Poland), Prague (Czech Republic), and Budapest (Hungary). I would highly recommend Eastern Europe as it is so cheap and the culture and food is amazing and varied!

Holding the Scottish flag on our way to Isle of Skye.

Accommodation

I lived in University student accommodation called Darroch Court. Darroch was in a great location (especially if you want to take advantage of the incredible University gym!), about a ten minute walk from George Square. I lived in a five person flat with great facilities. Three of my flatmates were on exchange from America, and to be honest, I probably met and became friends with more Americans then Scottish people during my exchange. Edinburgh is such an international city, whilst you get the Scottish culture, you also have opportunities to learn so much more. I celebrated Thanks Giving for the first time, for example.

Budget

Return flights to the UK, an 8 night Topdeck tour, and travel insurance for the whole six months cost about $3,500 (which I organised through Student Flights). I spent approximately $3,500 on accommodation at Darroch Court. In Edinburgh, I spent about $4,000 which included gym and basketball membership, food and coffee, events, and travel to Isle of Skye, Dublin, Stockholm, England, and Denmark. I also travelled in Europe for 7 weeks which cost about $4-5,000. Overall, I was away for 6 months and went to 14 countries and it cost around $15,000. It was 100%, totally, worth it.

Challenge

The biggest challenge for me was having so much time and so little structure. I'm usually a morning person, but I found it difficult to get up when it was cold and dark and the only commitment I had that day was a one hour class at 2pm. However, I always had better days when I got up, exercised, and left the flat early. There are so many amazing coffee and study spots in Edinburgh, I was exploring the city right up until the end of the semester.

Professional development

Sitting on Arthurs Seat to watch the sunrise.

Solo travel definitely increased my self-confidence and my practical organisational skills. However, the best thing I gained from exchange was an increased awareness, insight, and interest in the world. I think this has been hugely beneficial as I now find myself able to engage in more conversations and connect with more people.

Highlight

The highlight of my exchange was the people I met. When travelling, my favourite places were always the ones where I made quick friendships. My flatmates in Edinburgh became my best friends, and my basketball team was so welcoming. I feel so lucky to have met so many inspiring, different, and friendly people.

Top tips

Work hard to save for your exchange - the fact that I had worked so hard to so long to save for exchange made the whole experience so much more rewarding and special.

Lucy - University of Edinburgh