Ashlynne: Reflections and Advice

So I have officially been back in New Zealand for a week and thought this would be a good time to reflect on my entire exchange (while I try not to melt in the heat). This post is quite difficult to write because I can’t really believe that my exchange is actually over. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life and I have made so many lifelong friends and memories, and Leeds will always be a second home to me.

I thought I would use this final post to give some advice to anyone who is looking at going on exchange. My first piece of advice is that if you are thinking about going on exchange you need to go. My five months that I spent on exchange to Leeds were some of the greatest that I have had in my entire life. It was an incredibly life changing experience that I wouldn’t change for anything, and so if you are undecided about whether or not you want to go on an exchange my advice would be to definitely go!

Another piece of advice that I have is to step outside of your comfort zone. Obviously moving to the other side of the world alone like I did is scary enough, but once you get settled in, try some things you wouldn’t usually do. For me this meant a couple of different things, one of these was travelling alone which I had never done before. And although it was terrifying at first, I did it. And it was an awesome experience where I made a lot of friends and memories and now I can eat alone at restaurants and ask strangers to take photos of me without too much fear! An exchange is an awesome time where we have an opportunity to try and experience so many new things so I would recommend trying these new experiences as much as possible.

Also, be prepared but know that things probably will go wrong. On an exchange and travel in general being prepared is important. You’ve got to know what’s going on otherwise it will probably be a very stressful trip. However prepared you are, things are going to go wrong and there’s nothing you can do to change that. For me this was when I got a stomach bug three days before I was meant to be leaving for a two week Europe trip. So my advice for this is that you’ve got to be able to adapt and don’t get too upset that things didn’t work out the way you planned!

Make the most of your time on exchange because it will go super quickly. Even though sitting here writing this I know I’ve been gone for five months it really doesn’t seem that long. In some ways it feels like it was only a few weeks ago I was arriving in Leeds and setting up my rooms, but unfortunately it’s all over now. So my advice is to make the most of your time on exchange, make lifelong friends, go on incredible adventures, because before you know it you’ll be back home with amazing memories, ridiculous amounts of photos and far too many half-baked plans to see all your incredible friends again.

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Halloween party with some new British friends!
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Explorations in London including Winter Wonderland
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Christmas Ball with friends!
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My final (very emotional) day in Leeds.

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Ashlynne: Travels Around the UK

Hi!

So as I write this blog post I only have a month left of my exchange! It’s amazing how fast it’s gone, I can’t believe it’s nearly over! Since this is my second to last blog post I thought I would talk about all the places I have visited while I’ve been on exchange. So I’m going to write these by order I visited them (mostly because I can’t possibly rank them!).

  1. Winchester

So Winchester was the first place that I visited in the United Kingdom because I have some family there. Winchester is a super lovely, but very small city. I would definitely recommend visiting if you’re ever in London as you could as a day trip. The city centre is full of lovely churches, old buildings and rivers which are very picturesque.

  1. York

So after arriving to my new home in Leeds, York was the first place that I visited as it is only a 20 minute train ride away. If you’re in the United Kingdom York is somewhere that you definitely have to visit. York fulfils every dream of the cute English town you’ve ever had. It is full of cute little walkways and cobbled houses. If you do go I would definitely recommend heading to Betty’s for a traditional English afternoon tea.

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  1. Snowdonia

Snowdonia is a lovely mountain range that is just over the welsh border. I went there for a day with a few friends from uni and a day was definitely not enough time. We spent the day walking up a couple of different hills and mountains and I saw some of the most incredible landscapes!

  1. Alwick and Durham

So my day trip to Alwick and Durham were satisfying the Harry Potter nerd within myself. Durham and Alwick castle are both in the north of England close to the Scottish border. Alwick castle was where most of the outdoor scenes from all the Harry Potter films, it was absolutely incredible to walk around and actually feel like you’re in Hogwarts! We then went to Durham next which was where a lot other Harry Potter scenes were filmed. Even if you’re not a harry potter fan I would definitely recommend Durham as a place to visit, it has some amazingly old architecture and really cute cafes and restaurants.

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  1. London

So London is an entire world within itself. I spent a week in London just before Christmas and I could have easily spent another whole week there! London is a crazy city where there are always something new to see or do. One of the best things I did in London was a massive walk of the city, I started by the Tower of London walked across Tower Bridge, stopped at the Borough markets for lunch, stopped to see Shakespeare’s Globe, saw the Tate Modern, walked across Millennium Bridge and then ended the day at St Paul’s Cathedral – it was an awesome way to see the city! Another awesome thing I did in London was going to a play on the West End, I saw Matilda which was absolutely incredible – I would definitely recommend going to the West End if you’re ever in London, and the area where all the plays are in Covent gardens is one of my favourite parts of the whole city!

  1. Scottish Highlands

So I’ll start the next two paragraphs by saying how much I absolutely love Scotland – out of all the places I’ve visited in the United Kingdom, Scotland is definitely my favourite. So I did a guided tour around the Scottish Highlands which I would definitely recommend, the best places you want to see are quite spread out so you either need to do a road trip or do a guided tour. My favourite place that I visited was the Isle of Skye in North-Western, it was this small beautiful island and I hiked up a massive mountain, the Oldman of Storr, which had the most incredible views of the island.

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  1. Edinburgh

Edinburgh is probably my favourite city in the United Kingdom, or actually probably my favourite city in the entire world. It’s such a perfectly sized city which means that you can easily walk the entire city and so don’t have catch public transport to anywhere. It’s also a city that feels super old, and you can tell the history the city has just from walking around. My favourite things that I did in Edinburgh was the Christmas markets – which are definitely the best I have seen the food there was incredible! My other favourite thing was Arthur’s seat which is this hill right next to the city I hiked on New Year’s Day and it gives amazing views of the city!

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So that’s a summary of the cities I have visited during my time in the United Kingdom!

Thanks,

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Ashlynne: Life at the University of Leeds

Hey guys so since my class time at the University of Leeds is almost at an end I thought I would explain some of the differences between studying at the University of Auckland and the University of Leeds.

One of the biggest differences between the two universities that I have noticed is the difference in class time. At Auckland, I would typically be spending between 4 to 5 hours a week in lectures and tutorials for each of my classes, this would mean I would typically spend up to 20 hours a week in classes. At the University of Leeds, each of my classes has a maximum of 2 hours a week, most weeks I spend about 7 hours in class a week. This has a lot of benefits, especially for travelling because I get three day weekends every week! However, it means that in Leeds there is a lot more out of class work that is expected. Most weeks I spend two hours doing readings for each class, and two hours doing seminar preparation for each class, on top of working on assignments.

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Another difference between the Leeds and Auckland is that the massive number of societies and sports here. The Leeds University Union has over 300 clubs and societies, so no matter what people are interested in there is basically a club for everything! For my study abroad I wanted to try something different so I’ve joined the Quidditch club here, it has ended up being super fun and I got to compete in the northern regional quidditch competition! Another thing about Leeds is how important sport is taken here. In fact every Wednesday afternoon there are no classes on past 2pm so that all sports teams can have their training and games. Also every year there is a sporting competition called Varsity, this is where the University of Leeds and Leeds University Beckett compete against each other in tonnes of different sports ending in a rugby match. This year University of Leeds won which was very exciting!

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Another difference between the two universities that I have noticed is how the lectures and tutorials are run. The lectures are run mostly the same however the class sizes are a lot smaller. In Auckland I am used to having at least 100 people in a lecture and 500 at the most. In Leeds my smallest class has about 25 people in it and my largest class has 120 – this means that the lectures are a lot more interactive. The tutorials in Leeds are quite different from Auckland, firstly they are called seminars not tutorials. They are a lot more discussion based than I am used to in Auckland; in Leeds every student is expected to prepare readings or case studies and bring them to the seminar where you discuss them in small groups with the lecturer. They are also very small seminars too, most of mine have about 15 people.

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If you have any questions about studying in Leeds or in the UK in general feel free to message me.

Until next time,

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Ashlynne: Things To Do Around Leeds

So a couple of days I officially hit two months of living in Leeds. So I thought this would be a good time to talk about some things to do in Leeds and also in the Yorkshire region in general. The Yorkshire region is general is a super gorgeous part of the UK that I’d definitely recommend visiting, the cities here are pretty diverse but there is a tonne of green space and lovely walks to do in this region that I really enjoy (especially when I’m missing home!).

So Leeds where I’m currently living isn’t a very touristy city, but despite this it is an incredibly beautiful city with lots of things to do! Throughout my couple of months here I have spent a lot of time exploring the city and so here are my top recommendations of things to do in Leeds.

Head into one of the historic buildings (or just stand outside and enjoy the architecture) – Leeds has quite a few old buildings that have recently been converted into museums, art galleries and libraries. If going inside isn’t really your thing though spend half an hour wandering through the centre of town and just enjoy all the architecture of the buildings.

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Have a coffee and enjoy the view (or sunshine) – so despite the United Kingdom’s reputation for having terrible coffee, Leeds has quite a few of independent cafes which actually sell very coffee (they don’t however do Christmas themed coffee sadly, I still need to go to Starbucks for that). My friends and I often head down to a café to talk, enjoy the view and often sit out in the sunshine!

Shopping – Leeds is a fairly new and industrial city, and so a couple of years ago they built a massive shopping mall called Trinity. This place has absolutely everything from cafes to restaurants to designer stores to primark. It’s a great way to spend a day.

Kirkstall Abbey – Kirkstall Abbey is an old ruined abbey that lies just outside the city centre of Leeds, it’s a super nice place to go on a picnic for lunch and the old ruins of the abbey are incredible!

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Harewood house – this is one of the many old estate houses that exist in England, after visiting a few I think it’s one of the nicer ones! It’s about a half an hour bus ride from Leeds and its definitely worthy of a day trip. The house itself is nice and very grand, however my favourite part was the outside area that includes a small farm and many Instagram worthy places to take photos.

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Thanks for reading!

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Ashlynne: First Impressions of the University of Leeds

Hello! Since this is my first blog I’d figured I should introduce myself. My name is Ashlynne, I’m a third year BA/BCom student who is studying in Leeds for the semester. I have lived in Auckland my entire life so moving out of home to the literal other side of the world was an exciting but scary step for me!

Preparing for Leeds

The best piece of advice I can give about going on an exchange, regardless of where you are going, is to start early. I spent hours going through different universities, and hours trying to finalise my papers for Leeds, and then hours packing and preparing for life away from home. So make sure you start early so that you have plenty of time, and realise that no matter what you’re probably going to forget something anyway!

Leeds

My first few days in Leeds were some of the weirdest days that I’ve had so far. I was hit with the very sudden realisation that I was all the way in England completely alone in a city where I knew absolutely no one which was pretty terrifying. The best way I found to deal with this was to get out and adventure around town! Leeds is a pretty big city with 800,000 people so there’s always something to do here and because it’s such a student based city there are so many events for students which are great places to meet new people!

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This is just one of the many amazing places I found in Leeds while exploring the first few days

University of Leeds

One of the biggest differences I’ve noticed during my time in Leeds is the differences between universities. Despite the fact that Leeds and Auckland are fairly close together in international rankings there are so many differences between the two. Back in Auckland I do 5 papers a semester and so had about 25 hours of classes a week, in Leeds I’m doing the equivalent of 4 papers but have 7 hours of class a week. The focus here is on more individual learning, so we have to do a tonne of readings, rather than on teaching.

Another difference between the two universities is the classes. I do fairly popular papers back at Auckland and so I’m used to classes with 200 people at least. Here in Leeds my biggest class has just under a hundred people and my smallest class has 30 which is so bizarre to me! Also here classes are compulsory so during seminars and some lectures a roll is passed around that we all have to sign, and if you have too many missed classes you have to have a meeting with your faculty – which seems so weird to me because I haven’t filled out a roll since I left high school three years ago.

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This is a photo of the business school where I have most of my classes! The university itself is made of so many old buildings I absolutely love it!

Culture Shock

Something that I think is really important to talk about is the cultural differences between NZ and the UK. The UK is a super attractive place to do an exchange because although it’s in Europe the culture is perceived as quite similar to NZ, despite this there are quite a few differences between the two. The one I find quite difficult is smoking, smoking is a lot more culturally acceptable here than it is in NZ and so you have to get used to the smell of smoke in the air quite a lot. Another big one for me is homelessness. Homelessness and beggars here are a lot more prominent than in New Zealand, its still taking me time to get used to this one, and here people often come into bars and pubs and will come up to your table and ask you for money which I still can’t really believe.

Travel

So when culture shock gets the best of you (which at some point it definitely will) my best recommendation is get out of the city and travel. I found the university here runs a lot of trips to places around Yorkshire but I’ve done some trips by myself too. In the bit over a month I’ve been in the UK I’ve managed to see some of Southern England, Wales, York, the East Coast, and explore lots around Yorkshire too.

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At Kirkstall Abbey; one of the (many) very old things around Leeds
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Harewood house gardens. Which is the most visited manor house in Yorkshire
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Snowdonia in Wales. It was absolutely incredible!

If you have any questions about Leeds or studying in the UK in general feel free to email me ajur709@aucklanduni.ac.nz or find me on Instagram @ashlynne.jury

Until next time,

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