Host University

University of Essex

Host Country

United Kingdom


SP2, 2019


Bachelor of Psychological Science; Bachelor of Business (Human Resource Management)

Amelia LongWhy did you choose your host university?

At first, I knew I wanted to do my exchange in an English speaking country. It was between England and Canada but settled on England as it was easier to add further European travel to my exchange. I chose the University of Essex as it was the closest option to London, the subjects were relevant to my business degree and the accommodation was on campus which is what I wanted.

What was the university like?

The university has a different ‘campus life’ to what I had experienced at UniSA. Everything you need is on campus – shops, restaurants, bars, a nightclub etc. Classes were similar to those at UniSA, however my subjects had less contact hours than they would at home. They tended to have one lecture a week and one tutorial every fortnight. A difference to UniSA is that you have to ‘tap in’ to your classes and lectures as they record your attendance. In terms of assessment, essays are the norm. I had three subjects with one essay (worth usually 30%) and one exam (worth 70%) and one subject with two essays. The resources available at the university are similar to UniSA, a library with free printing and many computer labs etc.

Amelia LongWhat did you gain from your exchange experience and has it changed the way you think or altered your approach to life?

Not only did I gain so many new friendships with people from all around the world and insight into life in another country, but also a much greater sense of independence and confidence for the future. I was open to new experiences the entire time and will be at home now too.

What accommodation options were available to you?  How affordable was accommodation and would you recommend the same option to others?

I stayed in the South Towers, the cheapest option. There are 6 towers, each with 15 flats of about 16 people. I loved my accommodation, all exchange students are put in study abroad flats so everyone was going through the same experience of being away from home. We had our own bedroom which was very good, and shared 4 toilets and 2 showers between us all. I only once had to wait for the shower and our flat was able to keep it all clean! I would definitely recommend the towers if you are after a sociable experience and to meet lots of people, however if that is not an important factor, I would suggest a quieter accommodation as they could get noisy and there were quite a few nights where we would get waken up by a fire alarm and had to evacuate in the early hours of the morning!

Describe your travel experiences; did you travel locally or to neighbouring countries?

I was lucky enough to travel a lot during my time away. The university is situated in a convenient place as it is easy to get to Stansted airport, where all the budget flights leave from. Depending on the number of people travelling, we would either get a taxi from the university (a full taxi cost us £15 per person) or the National Express bus leaves from Colchester which is about the same price – just takes longer! I made a group of friends who I travelled with at least once a month, even for weekend trips. During term times I visited Lisbon, Edinburgh, Oslo and Croatia. RyanAir flights were so cheap, especially in the colder months. We flew to Portugal and Norway for equivalent to $15 return.

We went on holidays in April for Easter and some family came over and I travelled more of Europe with them. I was also lucky enough to go to the dawn service at Villers-Brettoneux in France for ANZAC Day with another Australian friend I made at Essex. After exams when the semester was over (early June), I travelled around Germany, Greece, Austria, Croatia, Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Czech Republic and Hungary with the friends I had made, and some friends from home, until early August.

Also, I joined a sports team at the university and we went on a few trips around the UK for matches and their equivalent of Uni Games.

Amelia LongDescribe how you adjusted to life in a different country and how you met new people.

When I first arrived in January, it was freezing! It took a while to adjust to the cold winter coming from Australian summer but that was the hardest part! Knowing that England isn’t too different to home, I adjusted really well. More of the challenge for me was adapting to living along rather than at home and having to manage time to do the simple things like grocery shopping and laundry! Meeting new people was so easy with the accommodation I chose, however I wanted to meet some British people too so joined a university sports team who were all very welcoming. 

Can you see any benefits from this exchange to your future career?

Absolutely, I feel confident in so many situations now that I didn’t before, after being forced out of my comfort zone and having to work things out for myself if they didn’t go to plan. Communicating with people from different cultures opens your eyes to how interesting the world is and how to respect others. I think studying abroad proves to employers that you are able to take initiative and work independently and proved to me that if an opportunity arose to work overseas I would be capable of doing so.

What advice would you give to a student who was hesitant or considering joining the exchange program?

If the thought of an exchange has crossed your mind, do it! Worst case, you jump on a plane home if you aren’t enjoying yourself. Best case, you have the time of your life, meet friends from around the globe and experience university life that is so different from that at UniSA! It has definitely been the highlight of my education.

Top tips

Don’t turn down opportunities! You never know what’s around the corner. Also, join clubs or sports teams at the university to meet local students who are interested in the same things you are.