||Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical and Machatronic)
Why did you choose your host university?
I chose to study abroad because I had previously travelled to Europe and really enjoyed the experience. I chose England because of its old historic towns and strong football passion. Lancaster University not only has a strong reputation amongst the top ranking universities such as Oxford and Cambridge but also accredited me for all of the subjects I enrolled in.
The location of the town meant that I could study on week days and travel on weekends. I had a real opportunity to visit the surrounding towns such as Manchester and Liverpool. Being situated higher north than most other universities provided me with the option to visit Scotland and explore the deeper north of the countryside.
I am a person who loves to travel and Lancaster University seemed like the right choice to gain the most out of my experience.
What was the university like?
The university itself was an upgrade to the Mawson Lakes campus I am used to. It has nine colleges all situated on campus each with their own bar and recreational area. The large majority of my lectures consisted of attending lecture theatres in the other colleges which enabled me to explore the majority of the university. The library is an incredible network of shelves that occupy not only a few floors up but also the basement level as well. It was extremely hard to search a book that wasn't in there. The assessments were challenging allowing me to embrace the wide variety of resources to complete the coursework provided.
The campus has quiet study areas and even small rooms with smartboards that can be used for group study. It has its own cinema and a vast range of different societies that I could join to occupy my spare time. It is not only located out of town, surrounded by luscious green countryside and woodland cross country trails, but it is the only university in England that has its own wind turbine.
The contact hours were reduced as it is a research university and bases its courses on individual learning. This meant that the students that put in the effort and wanted to learn were rewarded in the long run. The lecturers were easy to communicate with and very understanding of the student life and commitments. It has a great atmosphere about it and the other students are friendly and inquisitive of the different cultural barriers.
What did you gain from your exchange experience and has it changed the way you think or altered your approach to life?
My exchange experience added another layer of knowledge and understanding to my current views. I made many friends from different cultures and backgrounds (not just local students but other international) and gained confidence within myself and expressing my opinions around others. The exchange has opened up my mind to the differences of people around me which I believed has helped shape the person I am. Spending so long in a different country meant that I could adapt to the ways people think and build strong relationships that will last a lifetime.
What accommodation options were available to you? How affordable was accommodation and would you recommend the same option to others?
The university had a wide variety of accommodation both on and off campus. I could choose from a basic room in a flat to a room with an ensuite which is the preferred first year living. However, the colleges also catered for families with one and two room studios as well as the budget students from two to eight person share houses.
The accommodation was very affordable in comparison to the colleges in Australia but did not include cooked meals. Each flat had a share kitchen and bathroom and so the expense of food is left to the discretion of the student. I would recommend a standard room as it is cheap and allowed me to get to know the other people in my building. Whether it be from sharing a meal together to just having a chat, accommodation on campus was worthwhile for me.
Describe your travel experiences; did you travel locally or to neighbouring countries?
The location of Lancaster allowed me the opportunity to embrace both local and international travel. A short train ride meant that I got the chance to go to neighbouring cities such as Manchester and Liverpool. This was a great experience as I got to see the German themed Christmas Markets and taste a bit of street food. I watched an international football match at The Old Trafford which had an amazing atmosphere, nothing like I had ever experienced. New years in Liverpool was also quite spectacular.
Edinburgh was only a two and a half hour train ride away which meant that I could pop over for a short visit when I had a couple of days free. I was taken in by the beautiful castles and natural hiking trails that surrounded the city. If that wasn't enough, Ireland was only an hour flight from Manchester so for the short period of time I got the opportunity to experience some Irish culture.
Describe how you adjusted to life in a different country and how you met new people.
At first I thought it might be a very daunting experience and was quite nervous leading up to it. But the college life and Fresher's Week took away all my fears and worries. My exchange term was the first term for UK students as summer had just finished. This meant that most of the people living on campus were new to uni and had never experienced it before and so everyone was in the same situation with similar emotions. I quickly made friends with the people I was living with as well as the surrounding flats and bonded very quickly. The activities in Fresher's Week were not just about drinking and going out but had a lot of social inter-college activities to get to know people living in the surrounding buildings. There was a college day trip boat cruise on Lake Windemere as well as a night ghost tour and inter-college games to break the ice. The main populous is not just UK students but a wide variety of international students which I came to get along with in my time abroad.
Can you see any benefits from this exchange to your future career?
I believe that the exchange had made me a more confident person. It has helped me acquire knowledge of the places I can work as well as made known the different jobs that are out there. I went to a few careers expo's which provided me with insight into future graduate schemes that aren't available in Australia. I have a better idea of what my career will look like and know where my degree can take me.
What advice would you give to a student who was hesitant or considering joining the exchange program?
It is not very often that an opportunity like this will come around. You just have to step forwards and never look back. Everyone I have met with or spoken to said it was one of the best experiences they have ever had. Work hard so that when you are there you can make the most out of it. Who knows when the next time you travel overseas is. Even if you don't like it at least you can say that you have tried it and learnt alot. As they say "Travel is the best education".
|Try and fit everything in you plan to. Before you know it the journey will be over and all you will have is memories so make the most of your time abroad and you're bound to enjoy it