||Bachelor of Education (primary)
Why did you choose your host university?
Ever since Year 10 in high school when I visited my first UniSA open day, and had a look at the Overseas Exchange booth, it was that moment that I decided that at some point in the future while I was at university, I would go on exchange. It has been a long life dream of mine to live in the UK. It was that dream which spurred me to apply for a British university.
What was the university like?
Compared to UniSA, the campus is huge. That may be because I am used to the compact size of Magill. As the university is about 5km away from the town, there are a lot of facilities on campus: 2 supermarkets (similar to an IGA), many cafes, takeaway stores, hairdressers, bakery, ice-cream shop, smoothie store, Costa, Starbucks, newsagent, a travel agent, a cinema, and even a hairdresser. In typical English style, there are even nine pubs on campus.
The campus is just outside the town, and surrounded by countryside, which gives you a nice separation from the town. On the edge of the campus, there is a path, called the Woodland Walk, which is essentially a walk through the trees and bushes. It is a great way to disconnect from the university, while remaining on campus. Quite often while walking, you will see squirrels, rabbits, or other little creatures.
The campus library is incredible. There are three stories, each with its own noise level, little study rooms you can book, laptops you can borrow, extensive books (which in my opinion was even better than the online library when it came to assignments), and was topped off with a tree in the ground on the bottom floor - they clearly haven’t heard what happened to the Burnside tree!
In addition to the library, there are study rooms scattered all around campus, free for all students to use, and there is also the Learning Zone. The Learning Zone is an area that is a more relaxed than the library, but is still designed for work. It is a great place to meet for group assignments, and learning pods are available to be booked.
Depending on the degree you are studying, the majority of lectures are an hour long, and so are the seminars. Practicals however, can be longer. Classes also start on the hour, opposed to ten past the hour, and you may have multiple lecture for one subject in a week.
The academic year at Lancaster is broken up into trimesters. If you go on exchange in SP5, you will be there for the Michaelmas Term, consisting of 10 weeks (October-December), but if you go on exchange in SP2, you will be there for a total of 20 weeks (January-June), spanning over two terms, Lent Term, and Summer Term, with a month off for Easter in the middle.
Depending on the subjects you choose, your assessments may be slightly different to the main cohort of students, because most subjects run for all three terms, with coursework spread out over the terms, with an exam at the end of the academic year. If you are there for only the Michaelmas term, you may have a piece of coursework (or multiple) which is slightly longer to account for a semester’s worth of work. However, if you are there for the Lent, and Summer terms, you may complete all assessments like the other students, and your final exam may be slightly altered (as they take into account that you missed the work from the first term), or they may give you extended pieces of coursework, in replacement of the exam.
What did you gain from your exchange experience and has it changed the way you think or altered your approach to life?
I have learned so much about myself while on exchange, which I would most likely not have discovered if I stayed home. I as was able to extended myself, and gain a different perspective on life and the world. This is what changes you as a person, for the better. As you are forced into situations that you would not normally face at home, your confidence increases, and you at the end of it all, you will be glad for all of the experiences thrown at you; the good, bad, and the ugly.
As the university did not offer the degree I am studying, I had the opportunity to use my electives, and study courses I would not get to do back home. This allowed me to expand on my knowledge, without having the pressure to undertake another degree.
By studying at a university outside of Australia, and experience living in another country, it has helped me realise that in the future, I do want to work overseas, as the opportunities are priceless, and you make memories to last a lifetime.
What accommodation options were available to you? How affordable was accommodation and would you recommend the same option to others?
There are nine colleges on campus, and even if you live on or off campus, you are assigned a college. It is slightly more expensive to live on campus, but it is easier to make friends, as you are living with quite a few people, plus there are many social events scattered around campus. If you do live on campus, there are different levels of accommodation, ranging from standard accommodation where you share a toilet, shower and bathroom with up to 12 people, to ensuite where you have your own toilet, but share a shower and kitchen with up to 10 people, to superior ensuite, where you have your own bathroom, and share a kitchen with 8 people, or you can live in a townhouse, which is like a superior ensuite, but you also have a small lounge area in your flat.
Depending on which accommodation you select, the price varies, but prices are inclusive of all bills, but they do exclude food. All accommodation is self-catering, which means you do have provide your own cooking utensils.
I opted for the more expensive option, where I had an ensuite room, which I highly recommend because the bathroom is yours, and you don’t have to wait for a shower, or the loo. I had friends in standard accommodation, and the stories I have heard about their bathrooms, makes me glad I didn’t have to share. So my advice, if you can afford it, apply for ensuite accommodation.
Describe your travel experiences; did you travel locally or to neighbouring countries?
The great thing about being in England, is that you can travel to most places in a relatively short amount of time. In just over two hours by train, you can be in Glasgow, or Edinburgh, Ireland is a one-hour flight from Manchester, and there are many places within England that you can get to by train just for a day trip. I found that during term time, I travelled within England, Scotland, and Wales, but over the one month Easter break, and after the terms finished, I spent some time travelling Europe. Make the most of your weekends, and go out to see the country. You are not on exchange to only study, so make the best of being in a new country, explore, get lost, and make some wonderful memories.
Describe how you adjusted to life in a different country and how you met new people.
I am lucky enough to have family in the UK, so I spent the month before university started with them, which helped me to adjust living in a new country. It does help to bring a few things with you that remind you of home, Skype your family, stay in touch with friend back home, but the best thing to do, is to go out and do things. Do not lock yourself in your room, and hesitate making friends; talk to your flatmates, make friends with other exchange students as they will know what you are going through, and talk to people in your lectures/seminars. Don’t forget to take time for yourself.
Can you see any benefits from this exchange to your future career?
Absolutely! You develop skills overseas that will be an asset later on when going for a job. Being on exchange, you are forced outside of your comfort zone, placed in experiences that you may have no idea what is going one, you have to quickly adapt to a new environment, required to talk to people, and get along (especially the people you live with), and you are forced to sort things out when situations arise.
What advice would you give to a student who was hesitant or considering joining the exchange program?
Just do it! It will be such a great experience for you. It is not very often that experiences like these come around, and you learn so much about yourself. You get the opportunity to experience studying in a new country, make new friends, and you have the chance to travel too. It may seem like a scary thing now, but I can guarantee that it will be the highlight of your time at university. And in the unlikely case, you end up having a terrible time, it is a life lesson, where you will have grown as a person.
|Don’t worry if you do not feel settled right away. Going on exchange is a big thing, and it takes time to get adjusted. The best way to adjust to your new life is to make friends with your flat mates (this is a big help), join a society, and take time for yourself.
If you start saying yes to things, you will find that your new life will become one that you will not want to leave behind.