Grace - Royal Holloway, University of London

B Arts/Social Science
Semester 2, 2018
A university that is both picturesque and has lots of offer!

Academic experience

I travelled to London in the UK for Semester 2, 2018 to study at Royal Holloway, University of London, which is located in Surrey. I had such an amazing experience and thoroughly enjoyed my time overseas. The university I attended has trimesters, so I was present for Term 1, which was a 10-week long term. 

The university and the campus were much smaller than UQ but the facilities and student life was just as advanced and vibrant! I spent a significant about of time studying in their new library and using their great online databases for research. My professors were literally 2 floors below my accommodation and they were so welcoming to students looking for guidance. 

To be quite honest, my favourite part of the whole exchange was the variety of different courses I was lucky enough to take. Just like UQ has several Australian-specific courses, I took courses at RHUL about the European Union, British Democracy and Middle Eastern Politics. The classes were small and communal, allowing for vigorous discussion with like-minded students. I also had the opportunity to take a UK level 3 course, which was equally challenging and exciting. I am studying a dual Bachelor of Arts/Social Science at UQ, and there were a number of courses for me to take at RHUL that fit with my International Relations extended major.

Personal experience

The university had such a great exchange student program, with lots of support and guidance as well as many inclusive activities. There was international student-specific airport pickups and I was stepped through the whole orientation process really easy. I was even invited to an online live conference to help international students with their travel checklists and introductions to RHUL. 

My university was about 40 minutes on the train from London Waterloo, which meant weekend trips were very easy. However, the university is located in the small town of Egham, which is so peaceful and about 20 minutes on the public bus to Windsor, a popular tourist spot. Windsor Great Park was also just down the road, in which I went for many walks to look at the amazing orange and yellow forests of autumn!

Accommodation

I was lucky enough to have my application confirmed to stay in the beautiful and famous Founder’s Building (that’s the building that looks straight out of Harry Potter!). My room had the best view of the quadrangle and I made some great friendships with the other students in my hallway (I had nothing to be worried about!).  I had a single room to myself and my own sink, but the bathroom was shared and we had a kitchenette for our hallway.

Costs

In terms of finance, I recommend around $10 000 AUD as a good guideline for RHUL exchange – but this totally depends on your own interests and budgeting preferences.

The hall cafeteria was very well priced – you could budget about 50-60 pounds onto your student card to use there if you ate in every meal all week. However, I would recommend budgeting more for eating out and buying personal groceries and snacks (there is a shop on campus but it’s a little pricey). I went searching for variety a few nights a week and ended up spending a little more on food out.

Challenge

The biggest challenge I faced was getting the courage to introduce myself and hang out with new people! Once you get over the initial stages, you honestly will fit right in and have the best time!

Professional Development

I would say that I became way more independent and comfortable with accomplishing small tasks on my own, as I was in a different environment. I definitely learnt more about group work as a lot of the classes were pair-work based or included group based activities. I really mastered the public transport and felt super comfortable using the London Underground and navigating the huge city that is London.

Highlight

One of the highlights of my exchange was getting to walk around Windsor Great Park as a de-stressing technique during study! So peaceful and beautiful. I also loved exploring and meeting new people, whom with a hope to keep connection with!

Top tips

1.    September to December wasn’t as cold as I was expecting. It was an average of 5-6 degrees, which meant I lived in a light jacket and the same pair of jeans in 3 different colours! 
2.    Pack light! You wont need as much as you think and you will do heaps of shopping! (If you’re anything like me)
3.    Use Google Maps religiously! It’s public transport navigation is the best. 
4.    Travel as much as you can! Whether this means day trips or weekend trips with the new friends you have met, you won’t regret it. 
5.    Don’t worry as much! You’ll have a fantastic time, you just don’t know it yet!