University of Bradford (UK)
Study Abroad Testimonial – Veronica
England is a great place to visit because everyone speaks English and so communication is just the same as it is a home. I found the English students to also be very obliging and friendly. When I arrived, people were always eager to show me the best places to buy groceries, to grab a bite to eat or which transport to take where. Shopping in the UK can be a little more expensive, so that should be thought of. When doing up a budget, I would encourage any future students to put aside money every month for miscellaneous expenses. It's surprising what costs popped up while I was overseas; most of these costs were great opportunities to do something new. I took ballroom dancing classes while I was abroad and this was how I met my present boyfriend who is now coming to visit Australia during his summer break. Like I've said, exchange can be very surprising.
Name: Veronica Duthie
Program of study at CQUni: Bachelor of Psychology
Host Institution & Country: University of Bradford, United Kingdom
Period & Year of Exchange: Term 2 (UK Term 1), 2011/2012
I went on exchange to Bradford in the United Kingdom for one Semester. It was a fantastic experience, one I will never forget. I only regret not applying for a whole year.
Bradford isn't too big to feel overwhelmed, but big enough to provide places to hang out and enjoy after class time and its location is only 20 minutes on the train away from Leeds which is a thriving city. Leeds was great for shopping. Everything in England is relatively close to each other in comparison to Australia, and this meant that weekend trips were very possible and happened often. I went to London three times while I was away- and that's on the other side of the country. I had no idea how much there was to see and enjoy in the United Kingdom until I was amongst it all.
The best part about going on exchange is that It isn't just visiting a country on holiday, it's a chance to become a part of the culture and make life long memories and friends. I experienced a little bit of culture shock living in Bradford at first because it has many religions and cultures all mixed into one campus. Rockhampton is relatively small and closed minded. I found people in Bradford to have bright minds and big ideas about the world and life, and this was challenging but also very enriching. I found that I began to call Bradford home while I was abroad as I embraced the culture the lessons that it has to offer.
Academically, I found the way that they study Psychology very different. Classes are a lot more interactive than they are in Australia and I thoroughly enjoyed having lab sessions as it gave me an opportunity to put some of the things that I was learning to practical use. Bradford University has lab rooms especially for Psychology in Bradford and we used this to run experiments. I even got to be a participant in one social experiment which I found really enjoyable. Overall, I found the course easier than the CQU course. The Bradford Psychology Program focuses more on practical information, and less reading seems to be required. The course also only runs for three years as oppose to four, so I assume this is why it is approached differently. As a side note, I would have appreciated it more if someone for my home university had sat down with me before I went abroad and helped formulate a new program for my course. My advice for anyone enrolling in exchange is to do this, and to also double check that the courses you apply for are the ones available for the term you are applying for. I had issues with this, which caused much confusion and numerous emails between myself and a number staff from both universities.
Socially, exchange is unforgettable. Living on campus is an experience I will never forget. The University of Bradford has a sense of comradery and hype that I had not yet experienced since I study from home and only attend university for classes and occasionally to study. On exchange, University life became my life. I had the opportunity to live in a townhouse with ten other students, mostly freshers who were just as excited and bright eyed about starting university as I was about starting exchange. This gave a great foundation to form some quality friendships and share some great times. Since most students are away from family, in a small way we became each others family and despite small household quarreling and family bickering ("whose dishes are these?" "Whose alarm is that?") we all got along fantastically. I found out that it is so important to be patient and to take time out to listen and get to know the people around you as it makes the experience so much more fun and worthwhile. I met so many unforgettable people over there that I'm already planning a visit back over the holidays which I can scarcely wait for.
I would recommend exchange to anyone considering it, but I do have a few tips!
- Travel with a friend. My closest girlfriend and I applied for exchange together and were lucky enough to both be accepted. This meant that I had someone to look out for me, meet people with and travel to all the places I wanted to see. I never got homesick while I was abroad, and I have a feeling that this had something to do with it! I should also point out that it's safer to travel in pairs and it also helped make my 23 hours of flight time feel a lot shorter.
- Save, save, save! As I started traveling, I wanted to do more and I wanted to stay longer. If I had put more money aside, I probably could have.
- Make lists. Top of these lists is the list about filling out forms because there are SO many to get through. Students should really research what needs to be filled out and handed in on what date. After that, things such as accommodation, flights and the shuttle bus need to be sorted. The earlier this is looked into the better. Bradford University was so helpful in getting this organised. I'm so glad I got to know the exchange co-ordinator from Bradford. She assisted with so much and always greeted me enthusiastically and warmly. This was a big deal because trying to sort things out while being in a foreign country would otherwise be quite daunting. I would recommend regular communication with exchange co-ordinators.
- Don't plan to send too much through post. Although sending gifts is a nice gesture, I found the postage REALLY expensive. It cost me about $150 to send my Christmas presents home (this didn't include the cost of the gifts I bought, which I didn't even think were heavy).
- Take less rather than more. I left half of my belongings in the UK because I didn't have enough room in my suitcase. Although it was only 6 months that I was away, it was enough to build a whole life. Packing it up was not only painful, but difficult because I had limited space.
- Be prepared to be heartbroken. Nobody ever told me how hard it would be to say goodbye to my exchange experience. I thought I would be fine but returning to Australia was devastating. After doing so much travelling and making so many friends, returning to my home town seemed very boring. I still love my degree and enjoy the education I'm receiving, but it's hard to compete with what I received living on a vibrant campus full of vibrant people. So you have been warned, you will probably never be able to look at life the same after doing exchange. I have heard from numerous other exchange students that they feel the same (and often nobody else understands unless they have done it too). If I had the opportunity to do exchange again, I would do it in a heartbeat.