Julia - University of Edinburgh

B Advanced Humanities
Semester 2, 2018

Academic experience

The full-time load at UQ is equivalent to three subjects at the University of Edinburgh. I studied Scottish Literature 2a and introductory courses to History of Art and Sociology. These were really engaging and the Sociology lectures felt like Ted Talks! I loved how my subjects overlapped and the small tutorials (my smallest was only five people!!) gave me a more personal and in-depth understanding. Your timetables are all created for you, so on the positive side, there's no signon stress, and on the negative, you might have classes everyday like me!

Personal experience

Great friends make a great exchange and I definitely recommend getting involved in some of the endless societies Edinburgh has to offer. The International and Exchange Student Society (IESS) organises weekend trips around Scotland. These are a great way to meet other exchange students and the trip to the Isle of Skye is not to be missed. Through these societies I also participated in life drawing classes, joined the UN initiative Girl Up and took a beginner French program. The size of Australia nearly covers all of Europe so it is unbelievably convenient to travel around. Outside of the UK, I went to Rome, the South of France, Wrocław, Berlin, Amsterdam, The Hague, Barcelona and Paris! Being able to experience different cultures, art and literally see history around you – as well as learning to fend for myself as I took on solo-travel – was incredible.

Accommodation

One of the reasons why Edinburgh was my top preference was that it offered guaranteed accommodation. I lived in a self-catered flat with three first years. It was great fun expanding my cooking capabilities as well as making a dessert dash to Sainsbury's Local on a rainy day with my flatmates. The accommodation was extremely social with RAs organising events frequently. These included: Ikea excursions in welcome week; international potlucks dinners; and movie/games nights.

Costs

For the whole exchange I spent about $12,000. This included my initial return flights, living expenses for the semester and travel afterwards. Public transport in the UK is expensive so sometimes a budget flight to London is cheaper than the train. I spent about 20 pounds a week on food and shopping at Aldi, Lidl or Tesco Metro is cheaper than Sainsbury's or Waitrose, etc. I would recommend saving at least $15,000 because you will lose nearly half converting to pounds, and it's exchange, you want to do everything!

Challenge

The greatest challenge was when I broke my foot halfway through the semester. Having all my independence taken away threw me a lot, but people were so kind to me and my flatmates were life-saving: scouting out compression bandages; food shopping; and keeping me sane whilst I was confined to the flat.

Professional Development

Coming back home I feel so much more confident in myself and my capability. Throwing yourself out of your comfort zone on the other side of the world is scary, but once the band-aid was ripped off I've never felt so independent. Having a few bumps along the way have undoubtedly taught me not to take anything for granted, to adapt and make the most of every situation. This entire experience – the study, the culture, the problem solving – has been invaluable to the Advanced Humanities degree.

Highlight

Two moments are standing out as highlights. The first was hiking up to the viewpoint to see Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye in cold, wind and rain. It was covered by clouds only appearing briefly as we walked back to the bus, where most of the group had remained, and even though my jeans were dripping, I felt such a thrill because it felt like I was actually in Scotland! The second was getting lost on the way to Park Güell in Barcelona and climbing to the top of the Mirador de Joan Sales with my moon boot and crutches to the most spectacular sunset view.

Top tips

Here are some quick top tips. Firstly, register to a GP in Freshers week for NHS cover  – better to be safe than sorry. Secondly, I opened a Revolut bank account and it was perfect. It's all online, worked in different countries with no fees, and tracks your spending. I just needed a UK SIM to open it. Thirdly, the IESS, Skyscanner and Ryanair are your friends when you want to travel on a budget. Take every opportunity, you'll have the best time!