Host University

Strathclyde University

Host Country



SP5, 2017


Degree Program:Bachelor of Business (Tourism and Event Management)

Why did you choose your host university?

I knew I wanted to do a student exchange during O-Week of University. From then I spent a lot of time looking at all the different partner Universities and which are relevant to the business school and my degree. After much deliberation, I finally narrowed it down to 5 universities. It was difficult to choose my top three out of these but I chose English speaking countries. Whilst all universities teach in English, I considered the ease of being able to go shopping and do other day to day stuff. While this did limit my choices, it helped to narrow down what universities I had already found were fitted to me. I also considered European universities over other universities because they are well recognised for their business schools and industries.

Despite my 1-3 choices of my universities, I didn’t get my first choice. I didn’t feel let down by this though. While waiting for our acceptances to return in February, I started to think my second choice would be more suited to my career pathway and link in with my studies at UniSA better. Fortunately, I was accepted into my second choice University. This university was selected because it has specific hospitality and tourism subjects. It is highly recognised in the UK for its innovative business school and has won many awards. It is in a convenient location, has many helpful attributes for international students and offers on campus accommodation for the students. I thought about a lot of things I wanted in my university and prioritised them, then ticked off the boxes. Even though it was my second choice, it was the better choice for a host University. 

Catherine HughesWhat was the university like?

University in the UK is structured very differently to Australian Universities. Strathclyde University has many similar attributes to UniSA but also many different. They have only recently started many online platforms. Resources are available online for students, however I found that UniSA online Library is much more accessible and easy to follow than theirs. Their ‘Myplace’ which is equivalent to our ‘learnonline’ is well structured. It is similar to ours and depends on each course co-ordinator and how they structure it but is very easy to follow. They do have two different online platforms, a ‘myplace’ for courses and a ‘pegasus’ for all other things Uni. This made it hard to sometimes find the right place to look.

Lectures and classes were different to home but also very similar in many ways. Lectures weren’t recorded but lecture slides were uploaded, this meant if you missed the lecture you missed it, you can only access the notes. The lectures were done in different areas across the university. Some lecture rooms would have a theatre style setup with the chairs heightening towards the back. However, some lecture rooms were flat and more casual than the other lecture theatres. This was different for me because I was used to the theatre style layout and always being able to see over the person in front of me, but I often sat at the front of the classroom as a result of this. Lectures also took place twice a week. This was often 2 two hour lectures as well. Sometimes they would use one of the lectures as a workshop or dedicate the time to fieldwork. Whilst this meant that each course taken had 5 hours of contact time dedicated to the subject per week (2 Lectures/workshops, 1 Tutorial) it was still achievable and didn’t feel like they were overloading information.

Tutorials were done in classrooms similar to the classrooms at UniSA. They were constructed in similar formats when it comes to teaching styles and who is teaching the tutorials. However, the main difference was that some tutorials would be 1 hour each week, others would be 2 hours long every second week and no tutorial every other. This sometimes became confusing on what weeks the tutorial was on and what weeks it wasn’t on. Being organised with a diary or timetable was important when it came to tutorials especially since attendance in tutorials counted towards our grades. Every tutorial also involved group work, one tutorial assigned groups to the students, the other two grouped us with who we were sitting close too. I suggest you be picky where you sit with tutorials because you will end up in a group with random people, some that will happily work, others that don’t care about their grades. Tutors are very helpful and make your group engage with discussion between the rest of the class as to what work you’ve done during the tutorial. They also come around and talk to groups which is also very helpful.

Assessments were scattered in different ways. Some courses had heavily weighted assessments and that meant there were only a few.  Other courses had 4 or 5 assessments that were weighted with only 20 or 30% each, these were still reasonable sized assessment pieces. All courses involved one or two group assessments. One course had the major assessment piece as a 50% weighted portfolio and commentary (written report to support the portfolio), the other two courses had exams, one weighted 30% the other weighted 50%. The assessments were marked differently to the UniSA and how Australian Universities mark. To pass an assessment, you need to achieve over 40%. To pass an exam you need to achieve over 30%, if you don’t get over 30% in the exam you will fail the course and have to retake the exam later in the university year. To pass the course overall, I only had to achieve 40%. However, this 40% was not the same as our markers would put it at. The university of Strathclyde would explain the UK marking scale as harsher than most. They explained anything over 85% would be very well done work and is at a level of writing and analysis the same as a PHD study. To transfer Australian marks to UK marks it would be approximately like this: HD = 70-85%, D = 60-70%, C = 50-60%, P = 40-50%. 

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

To summarise what I have gained from my exchange experience is almost impossible. I have gained so much both physically and intellectually. I have another place that I feel like is home, I have friends that I’m closer with than anyone else, I have motivation to do house chores (crazy right!?), I feel more independent, I am more organised and driven to do more with my life. I have networks across the globe, I have insights into different cultures, I have new ways to study and new-found skills when studying in groups and with team work. The list keeps going on and on. There are a few experiences that have altered my life and how I am approaching my future in more ways than others. These experiences I felt lucky to have gained and feel like I couldn’t have gotten them from travelling, they only came as a result of my exchange.

I have a new approach to life when it comes to the people I care about. This is a weird one but you do realise the people you value in your life. Who your friends really are and how much everyone you interact with can influence the way you view other people and the world. I have friends at home which are easily caught up in gossip and drama, whilst this is exciting, it was nice to have people that don’t become caught up in drama and will confront issues. I find that my approach to life nowadays is that if there is something I don’t like, I deal with it. I don’t bottle it up or ignore the issue. If it’s an issue with someone, I’ll confront them and tell them how I feel. If it’s an issue with a different situation, like litter laying around on the ground, I’ll pick it up. So many times, we avoid the issue and just pretend it’s ok, but all that does is makes it worse for next time.

I am more determined to succeed in my study’s and make a strong career for myself. While overseas, I studied a subject and we talked about the new age of business that we are entering into. We talked about how no one attends lectures anymore because they can access slides online and think that everything is self-teachable. I am determined to commit myself to not allowing a negative change in the future of the business world and I want to learn more, work more, achieve more and be more. I want to make an influence in how the world works, and I don’t want our upcoming generation to become slack. The way I view myself, my work ethic and what I have to do to improve myself has changed dramatically.

I also now believe to be a strong business woman, I don’t need to be the leader every time. I have always had a tendency to make myself known and take control of situations, but sometimes it’s more stress than it’s worth and it doesn’t teach me how to work in the team. I always thought about learning how to lead a team but not how to be led by a team leader. It’s my weakness and I aim to continue to improve it. This new way of thinking for me has come from many different aspects over the entire trip, I have seen how other people behave and how I behave. I have noticed that I can come off too controlling and it isn’t always a positive aspect. I have also seen how some groups operate and fail and how other teams operate and succeed. I now believe, no matter how independent your business or life is, you always need team work. Personally, that is one of the most valuable changes I have gained. 

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

I was a lucky student who had on campus accommodation at their University, and it was available to international students. I know many other students who study abroad had to source their own accommodation and travel to Uni each day. Fortunately for me this was an available resource and it saved me money in doing so!

Whilst waiting for my host university to approve my exchange there and open up their portal for me to enrol, I started to look around at different options for where I could stay. The most inexpensive student accommodation that was close by was around $200AUD per week, some that I looked at costing up to $280AUD per week. The University, however, was able to offer me accommodation at approximately $180AUD per week. It doesn’t seem like much difference but the savings add up. 

The accommodation which I lived in was simple, but that’s all I needed. I shared with other international exchange students from around Europe and became really good friends with them all. The Apartments consisted of our own bedroom which we were able to lock during the day when we weren’t home – meaning it was safe for all our laptops etc. – It also had a kitchen, toilet and shower which I shared with 3 other girls on my side of the apartment. In the centre of the apartment, we had a shared dining table and living area with the girls in the apartment next door. This meant that technically there were 8 of us all living together. The accommodation halls had us fill out a survey prior to our exchange to help match us up to these 7 other girls. Fortunately, in our case, we were perfectly matched and all got along very well with each other. I know of some friends who didn’t get along with their roommate’s due to cultural differences. The accommodation halls and student village office were incredibly helpful to accommodate those unhappy to a new place and help to make their experience better.

Absolutely would recommend the accommodation method I had available to me for anyone attending the University of Strathclyde. It is 10/10 amazing and worth the friends you will meet!

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

During my time studying I travelled locally around Scotland. After my study was completed, I stayed in Europe for an additional month and took a Topdeck tour around mainland Europe. The tour was the perfect way to end the trip at the time, I think reflecting back now I would have enjoyed the Topdeck tour at the beginning of the trip and use the knowledge and experience of the countries, cities and their transport/ cultural norms to travel back there during the semester. RyanAir often had inexpensive flights to Europe on sale. This would have been a great way to be able to see more of those countries then what I had already seen. Travelling around Scotland was absolutely amazing though. I was fortunate in how I was able to travel around Scotland and how much I was able to do so as well.

Myself and my roommates decided to go on a road trip through some of the main site seeing places of Scotland before the University semester got too busy and we were buried in homework. We were able to hire a car for the weekend and took a 2-day trip up north through Glencoe and we stayed about an hour away from the Isle of Skies. The next day we travelled east towards Loch Ness and paid the Loch Ness Monster a visit. Many people told us their experiences of going to see the Loch Ness and that it’s overrated. We said that we will decide that for ourselves when we go there. Personally, I thought it was amazing! People always tried to give us travel advice leading up to this trip on what is good and not so good. We all agreed prior to the trip that we will go with the flow and take people’s opinions lightly, not let it shape our trip. This was a great decision because it made our trip all the more satisfying by having no expectations of anything at all. We took detours at times and stopped at random locations that looked scenic throughout the trip. This also gave me a chance to leave the steering wheel for a bit and take in the surroundings. I drove the entire trip, which meant I did get to choose to stop at so many places to take pictures.

The other times I travelled around Scotland was with one of my friends from the Netherlands. His parents drove their car over to visit him and left the car there for his convenience. Making friends with him before his parents brought the car was a big plus. Every second weekend or so we would travel to a different location. Some of the places I visited was: Pap of Glencoe, Ayr, North Berwick, East Lothian, Inveraray, Argyll Forest park and Oban. We stopped at many places on the way and seen so many beautiful Castles, Lochs, forests and seasides. I couldn’t believe that Scotland was able to be so beautiful and full of different colours. One of my favourite road trips we did was visiting Yester Castle. This is Castle Ruins that is located in East Lothian. It isn’t a tourist attraction as such, because it resides in a forest between a golf course and farm land. To get here, we walked through these kind farmers’ fields, and followed the footpath that had been left from previous visitors. We were able to access the inside of the ruins through a small side door. Unfortunately, we were unable to explore much further than a single room as the staircase have a barrier of rocks fallen, stopping visitors from exploring further. The Castle was believed to belong to a Wizard and Goblins in the 13th Century. Many Places across Scotland came with an old wife tale, making every trip all the more adventurous!

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

Life in Scotland was comparable to Australia. People spoke English, they used similar words for foods as what we do and words that were different than ours I always knew what they were referring too. I felt comfortable when living in Scotland. It was the adjusting to living out of home and with roommates that I’ve never met before that was different. Talking to people every day that speak English as their second language and not their first was different. However, it still didn’t seem difficult to adjust too. I spent a lot of time planning and organising how to survive out of my parents’ home. Luckily enough, we had cleaners come every Wednesday and do the more difficult cleaning duties for us, so we only had to do our dishes and keep our rooms tidy. Therefore, living was easy no real adjustment was needed. Living with people who didn’t speak English as their first language wasn’t too difficult either. They were all wanting to improve their English and so they wanted me to speak normally and explain any words that they didn’t know the meaning of. The only thing I really had to adjust too was the cold. Again, this wasn’t incredibly difficult because I left Australia at the end of winter when it was 16 degrees Celsius and arrived in Scotland at the end of Summer when their temperature was 17 degrees Celsius. This meant my body didn’t rapidly adjust to any temperature, it was slowly eased into the 1 degree weather. It wasn’t nice, and I was freezing compared to others but it could have been worse.

I met everyone in different ways, but all of my friends were all connected to each other through their own friendships. My roommates and I went to a mixer night on the first Saturday for the international students where we met 2 group of guys, afterwards we went to the Local University Bar (Todd’s Bar), here we bumped into one of the group of guys we met earlier and talked to them for a while. Later in the week we went back to Todd’s for the Monday night Quiz, we weren’t able to find a table so we joined some guys and made friends with them. We decided to go to the beer pong tournament on Thursday night with the guys from Monday night. One of my roommates introduced us to her friend from her University in Portugal, he turned out to be roommates with the guys we had drinks with on Saturday night. So, we stayed friends with all of them. We also bumped into the other guys we met on Saturday around campus and they invited us to a house party they were having. Here we met a group of people, which we hung out with at a few parties throughout the semester. Later in the semester, we became friends with people in our classes and expanded our friendships. Through these friendships we would meet their roommates who were friends with other people and it kept circling around. At the end of the semester I was friends with about 4 friendship groups who all knew each other and were friends with one another. It was strange how everyone met but making friends with my roommates and going to the local bar to socialise paid a massive role. 

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

Absolutely! An exchange is a great opportunity for all degrees but it is an advantage when it comes to business degrees. The business world is so international nowadays that having this knowledge of how businesses operate in the UK gives me that little bit more insight. The university I attended is well recognised in the business studies in the UK. Having attended this University, I feel confident that I am at an advantage of engaging with employers in the future. I have also been able to network internationally. I was lucky enough to be at Strathclyde while they were partnering up with the Scotland Event Campus. This is where large exhibitions, concerts and any entertainment is help. It’s like combining Adelaide’s Entertainment Centre, Convention Centre and The Adelaide Show Grounds all in one venue. Having networks with the people at this particular place was a large bonus for me because it would be a dream to be able to work at that venue. I was also well known to the Lecturers and tutors at the university and many of the students I worked with I am now close contacts with. Having professional connections globally is good but friendship connections globally is possibly better. All the people I connected with during my time there are well achieving students who have high prospects. This means that later in the future, my friendships develop into valuable business contacts.

The subjects I chose to study at Strathclyde has also given me more knowledge internationally. Across different countries some concepts and forms of analysis are conducted different or conceptualised in different terms. Being able to compare the way concepts are explained in different manners allows me to know the understanding of what someone means when saying it in a different way. I can also read analysis’s that are done in different ways all the same. I also chose to study subjects which were similar and had some of my concepts and topics cross over. This was so that I can analyse the difference between the industry in Australia and the UK. This was very interesting to be able to see and will be interesting to continue to see the differences throughout the rest of my study. Some of the courses I undertook at Strathclyde used different countries around the world as examples, while most of them were European countries, they brought up Australia as an example many times. It was interesting to see how other countries view our country from a tourism and business perspective. I believe having knowledge of what people overseas think about our tourism industry is valuable knowledge for my future career, if I choose to continue down the tourism pathway.

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

Just do it. It is one of the best experiences that I have ever done and so many people leave University or get to their last semester wishing they had done something like an exchange. The people you meet will make you want to stay there for another semester. It makes you wish you had a wealthy bank account so you can go back and visit all the time. It makes you frustrated that Australia is on the other side of the world and so far away from everyone. But not a day you will regret it, you won’t even regret coming home absolutely broke. Many people are worried about finances but the university is so helpful with that offering different travel grants. The government also offers a loan which goes on top of your HECS debt. It is a lot of money but it is so worth it. If you are nervous, talk to someone who has gone or the overseas exchange team at UniSA. They can answer so many question that you have and offer plenty of advice. There are so many benefits that you will gain by doing this exchange, just jump right in!

If you are considering joining, some advice I want to give is to start researching the university options as soon as possible. Whether the application isn’t for another few months, that’s fine. Start researching and narrowing down your choices. You want to go to the best university for you so you need to look at all the different options. Once you know which unis you are definitely wanting to attend, look at their location and all the different travel that’s around. Save some extra money to make spontaneous flights around as well. Some flight sales are crazy cheap. Don’t get too tied down on set travel plans, you will meet amazing people and you might want to spontaneously go to their country or travel with them, allow that flexibility. Save, save, save; but don’t take away your fun occasions whiling saving, thinking you can’t afford to go out with your friends. Set budgets and stick to them. Borrow your friend’s clothes when going out instead of buying a new outfit. It’s little things like this that will help you stress less about saving enough money and then you can travel and do more fun things overseas!

Top tips

You cannot pack enough underwear! Trust me when I say that you might think you’ll do laundry once a week, maybe every second week if needed but that’s a lie. Laundry is expensive, time consuming and takes a lot of effort to walk all your clothes to the laundromat and all the way back home again. You don’t want to do this every week and some weeks you will be travelling on weekends which means you need to do laundry on the weekdays and you need to study on the weekdays.

This makes your schedule very busy! You will figure out a way to make all your clothes stay as clean as possible for as long as possible, that’s easy! What isn’t easy is having clean underwear; and it will come to a time that you have to do laundry purely because you have run out of underwear and you are wearing the bather bottoms you packed in case you decided to use the University Swimming pool or catch a plane to South France. Trust me on this, it happened twice to me. So, my top tip, pack enough underwear for the entire time you are there. Or at least a month’s worth!