Zofia: Travel

So now, to take a proper look at one of the major reasons I (and many people) wanted to come on exchange: travelling.

I had a lot of opportunity to travel around the UK and Europe both during and after my exchange. Because I did the January to May semester at Edinburgh, I ended the exchange at the beginning of the Northern Hemisphere summer, and then had until Auckland restarted in July to explore. That being said, we also had some short mid-term and “study” breaks that us exchange students used to our advantage.

Waitangi Day London

The first bit of travelling I did was down to London for Waitangi Day. I went with two other Kiwis, and there’s a huge pub crawl organised by Kiwis in London, so we got to meet a tonne of nice people with very familiar accents.

The second mini break I took was with some exchange students during a week we had off lectures in February. We went to Brussels and Amsterdam for two nights each. We loved just wandering (and biking) around the cities, enjoying classic food like the Belgian waffles.

Amsterdam

During the Easter break, five of us decided to go on a roadtrip around Scotland. We travelled all the way up north into the highlands, visiting some friends who lived in one of the tiny highland towns. We also saw the Isle of Skye, and about ninety-four castles. Scotland is truly beautiful.

And then, quicker than I actually would have liked, my semester was over. I started off my summer with a Topdeck tour. This is a bus tour aimed at young people, where they drive you around continental Europe and you spend one or two nights in each place. It was super full on, but an incredible time. Topdeck isn’t quite as infamous as Contiki for its partying, which to be honest probably worked in its favour. I joined a two-week tour, and went from Rome, to Venice, Pag Island (Croatia), Ljubljana (Slovenia), the Austrian Alps, Prague and ended in Berlin. I had the most fantastic time, and couldn’t recommend it enough – it’s like a tasting board of Europe, so you can decide where to come back to. Fair warning, you will be absolutely exhausted by the end of it, and possibly never want to see a hostel shower again.

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After Topdeck I met up with a friend from exchange and we did two weeks travelling around Spain and Portugal. I’d never been to Portugal before and it honestly blew me away. We had a few beach destinations (Palma de Mallorca, Malaga and Lagos) as well as some bigger cities (Seville, Lisbon and Porto). When we arrived in Porto we realised that we happened to be there for the weekend of the Festa de São João do Porto – a street festival for the patron saint of Porto. Everyone is out on the streets the whole day, cooking sardines and banging people on the head with plastic hammers (it’s meant to be a sign of affection). It was an amazing coincidence that we were there for it but if you get the chance, definitely go! It was one of the most fun days of my trip.

After Spain and Portugal, my parents and sister flew over from NZ and I met them in London. We did a two-week roadtrip around the UK, driving from Cambridge all the way up to Edinburgh and back down the other side.  It was atrocious weather, but England and Scotland are often overlooked when people choose to travel to Europe. I was glad to get the opportunity to have a look around because the UK actually has some awesome history and buildings that reflect that. That being said, I could have traded the 9-degree temperature and sheets of rain for the sun I’d been getting in Spain.

So at this point my time in Europe was nearly over, but I managed to squeeze in one more weekend in London (for the Wireless festival) and a couple of days in Paris, which was beautiful.

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Even though I’ve gone into great self-congratulatory detail on my travels, it’s also true that no matter where you go in Europe you’re going to find something amazing. Different people enjoy different things and different styles of traveling, so find someone who matches you and head off!

Ciao!

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Elizabeth: Last Post!

For the past few weeks I’ve been trying to figure out the best words to describe the exchange experience and how much it meant to me. I’ve decided there are no words that do it justice. My best advice if you want to know what it’s like is to just do it yourself – it’s the only way I can express how incredible it was to you. A bit rubbish for someone who is supposed to be telling you about how she felt about her exchange – I promise I tried really hard!

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Kayaking on Lake Brienz in Switzerland – if I had to choose, possibly my favourite place I visited

Explaining how incredible all the travel was is easy – I went to 18 countries in just over seven months and utterly adored it all. Experiencing new cultures, trying incredible new foods (French pastries and crepes are just as good clichés would have you believe – you honestly haven’t lived until you’ve gorged yourself on them for a week straight), and living it up in the sun/snow/depressingly grey overcast (or whatever weather Europe wanted to throw at me) created some of the best moments of my life. There’s just nothing like it. Watching a jaw-dropping sunset in Santorini (which I was doing almost exactly a month ago) definitely beats sitting in the law library doing an assignment on torture (which is what I’m supposed to be doing right now). It’s not really hard to convince anyone of that!

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Being on exchange is more than the travel though. It’s a great excuse to go and see awe-inspiring places that you’ve been lusting over on instagram for years, but most of the memories I truly cherish are the ones with the friends I made in Nottingham; the late night conversations in our cramped flat corridor, the walks around the uni lake on a beautiful day or if I was feeling stressed, laughing at the strange things English people do, taking the piss out of each other’s accents and home-country habits (my friends mocking how I said ‘Tesco’ will forever be burned into my mind). A semester abroad gives you the opportunity to set up a whole new life for yourself in a foreign country with no one else from home around it. It sounds (and is!) terrifying but it’s also extremely freeing. It’s setting up a little life for yourself in addition to your one in New Zealand.

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My flat, slowly leaving Nottingham one by one – saying goodbye to exchange friends was definitely the saddest thing about coming back to NZ

The exchange experience in general just heightens every emotion you have in the best way possible. I expected to have fun travelling, I expected to make friends, I expected to enjoy Nottingham and all it had to offer. What I didn’t expect was how intense all these feelings and experiences were. Within a few weeks I had made friends that I felt as close to as some of my friends back home – something I never really expected but am so grateful for now. I didn’t expect Nottingham to feel like home after such a short time there. But that’s what it feels like to me now – in the same Wellington (where I’m from) and Auckland (where I’ve lived for over four years) will always feel like home to me, I think Nottingham will too. I put a lot of this down to the feeling like time was running out – knowing that you were leaving in a few months meant you found your friends and felt at home quickly because you had to so that you fully immersed yourself. I said yes to more things and put myself out there more than I ever would at home and am so thankful I did. While there were obviously low points in the seven months (like crying in an airport bathroom after an immigration officer yelled at me, getting lost for over an hour when it was -6 degrees outside twice, and getting called on in a class where I knew nothing), none of it took away from the fact I had a better time than I could have imagined. The whole exchange was a ‘best case scenario’ outcome.

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Neuschwanstein Castle, about two hours outside of Munich – the one the Disney castle is based on!

The only real advice I have for going on exchange is just telling you to do it! If you have the opportunity to do so I can’t imagine why would ever not take it up. If you’re nervous because you’ve never lived out of home before, you can always choose places close to NZ or to other family, or choose countries that are relatively similar to NZ to help with culture shock (Australia, UK, Canada, US, Ireland). If you’re worried about making friends, don’t! I don’t know a single person on exchange who didn’t make friends – and even if you didn’t, it’s still an incredible opportunity to study and travel overseas. If you don’t want to push your university out a semester, don’t worry about it! You can likely still graduate on time and even if you can’t, it’s 100% worth it.

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You have to go on exchange! Even it’s only so finally you can be the subject of snarky memes about people who studied abroad and/or summer holidayed in Europe.

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my exchange experience. I hope you all get to experience it on your own someday, because I honestly can’t recommend it enough.

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Safe travels!
Elizabeth

 

 

 

Courtney: Last Post!

So, I’ve been home for 3 weeks now, and the post-abroad depression has truly settled in. I’ve been annoying my flatmates non stop with my stories of my time abroad, and getting sad whenever I hear someone mention England in the slightest. Anyone that asks me about it gets a whole essay and a half – I cannot tell them all how much fun I had.

Studying abroad teaches you things you would have never learnt in a classroom and much more. While the actual studies were amazing, studying at a world class university such as King’s, there were other aspects of my time abroad that I never even knew I’d benefit from. As cheesy as it sounds, I definitely grew as a person over there. It forced me to overcome my shyness, and get on with things – there was no-one to hold your hand through each and everything. I learnt I could travel alone, and not feel awkward eating alone in a restaurant in Edinburgh (something I would never have done back home!) I’ve made lifelong friends with people from all corners of the globe, with such diverse, different backgrounds that I never knew if we’d ever have anything in common. I learnt so much about different cultures and countries through my many opportunities being able to travel across the continent.

So would I do it again? 100 times over. Despite all the times I got lost, didn’t know what I was doing and missed home, it was an experience I can truly say I wish everyone could have. If you’re thinking about taking the plunge, I have two words for you. DO IT. It is worth every cent, every hard moment missing home, every time you think you’d be better off at home. I cant recommend this experience enough – if you couldn’t already tell!

Now I’m busy planning how soon I’ll be financially able to return to the UK, after my final semester at university! If you have any final questions, feel free to hit me up! I wish the next lot of exchange students all the best for the next semester!

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 Travelling in Corfu, Greece
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Exploring the sights in Rome, Italy
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Saying goodbye to my home in London, Champion Hill

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Courtney: Academics

Ahhh, the ‘study’ part of study abroad. Let’s not forget what we’re all here for folks!

As much as I wanted to experience travel and living in another part of the world for 6 months, the study part was pretty important to me. King’s is a world renowned university, especially being well respected in the UK university system. If you’re interested in the rankings, etc of your university, definitely check King’s out!

Classes

If you thought UoA classes were relaxed, take a look at King’s. For each class we had a total of one hour of lectures a week, and one hours of tutorials. Yep, you read that right. There was very little contact time, which meant you need to be pretty disciplined to keep up on top of all your classes. It is great, however, if you are a study abroad student, as it gives you a great amount of time to see the city you’re living in and beyond! I ended up with only three days of classes a week, which meant for a great long weekend every weekend! It was great for those trips around the U.K., such as Brighton, Stonehenge and Bath! However, it was easy to get complacent and think if you miss a class, it’s only one hour, so how much can you really miss? Often, they’d give exam hints and coursework help, so can actually be quite helpful. In short – go to your classes. They’re only an hour – even if they are at 9am and you have to battle London rush hour to get there.

Classes were probably the most difficult thing for me in planning my whole exchange. I left my exchange till Semester 1 of my fourth year of my degree, so my paper options were quite limited, and most were specific papers required for my major. If you can – definitely go as early as possible, so that you have many options and don’t have to stress too much about stage 3 papers while your friends go to Ireland without you!

I’m doing a BCom/BA, majoring in Marketing, Management and Psychology. Tip: King’s does not let you take Psychology papers, no matter how much you beg the Study Abroad Office. So Psych majors, turn away now. King’s does offer work psychology based classes, which count towards my psych major, however can be quite business based, so I wouldn’t recommend them if you don’t have an interest in that sort of stuff. It worked for me and my Commerce degree, and I filled up the other slots with business papers. For anyone doing a Commerce degree, they are very specific on classes – they have to match pretty much exactly the equivalent at UoA. Luckily, they have a great amount of information of classes already approved, so you can always just go off of that list if you don’t want to trawl through the University’s website. Check out the Business Student Centre for more info!

The papers I did were the following:

5SSMN232: The Psychology of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Equivalent Psych 300 level)

5SSMN233: Work and Organisational Psychology (Equivalent Psych 300 level)

6SSMN361: Marketing Communications (Equivalent MKTG 306)

6SSMN336: Corporate Social Responsibility (Equivalent MGMT 309)

I found them all pretty interesting papers – although they are my majors so keep that in mind! If you want any specific information about how you found these papers let me know – although bear in mind King’s does change their course catalogue so they might not still be available for your semester!

Uni Life

One thing I learned about King’s, and London universities in general, is that they have a very diverse and international student population. There are a large number of European students attending, as prior to Brexit, I believe they pay the same (or similar) fees to UK students. Therefore, you’re likely to meet lots of people from all around the world! As you are only able to pick your classes from a specific list, chances are you’ll likely meet other study abroad students too. In one of my classes, an intro tutorial asked us where we were all from. Only one of those people were actually from the UK! While I have definitely met those hailing from the UK, I believe it is often most common for UK students to go to smaller, ‘university’ towns – much like Otago – rather than choosing something in a bigger city! It does depend on each and every person though.

 

One day was truly disappointing though. I had just finished class, and was waiting outside for a friend. She came out, and had told me she’d bumped into a friend who’d just seen Prince Harry – yeah, you read that right – giving a speech at King’s. We’d just missed it! Top tip – keep an eye out for speakers! I wish I had known, because that would have been an awesome opportunity!

Exams

I’ve just finished my exams as of a week ago, and let me tell you, their exams are no joke. The actual exams are pretty ok as far as exams go, but the actual exam process is pretty intense. You’re given a specific seat number, in a room that contains around 1300 desks – it can be pretty overwhelming. The exams aren’t even held at King’s – ours were held in the Kensington Olympia Convention centre, which I guess was how they managed to squeeze so many people into one room. You have different length exams in the same room, so it can get pretty distracting when they announce the end of one exam, and you’re still writing. Other than that, it was all pretty easy to understand and efficient – just make sure to go with plenty of time to find it!

As sad as I am that my time at King’s has come to an end, I’m pretty excited for the next 3 weeks before I return home, as I’m set to travel around Europe, enjoying the nice summer sun! I hope this gives you a little insight into how the university system/academics works here at King’s – and will likely be a little similar if you’re attending another UK university. I wish you all the best of luck!

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Accommodation Awards: Courtney

When deciding where I wanted to study abroad, I knew I wanted to choose a big city to live in. However, the main drawbacks of choosing a city as opposed to a smaller town or a University town is that things can get a little more expensive – especially accommodation-wise. I would personally recommend staying in University accommodation over finding somewhere yourself, as it usually tends to be cheaper and more central. Along with this, it usually includes all bills, so all you need to worry about is buying food for yourself, and paying rent – no extra costs included. It also provides a great way to meet other students, both those local and other study abroad.
 
In saying that university accommodation is cheaper than most private rentals, London is still expensive. Fortunately, most residences at King’s are in Zones 1-2, which means an easy commute into Uni each morning. The location on each though, does depend. I personally live in accommodation situated about a half hour bus ride into the city – although I know some that consist of a 20 minute tube ride, 10 minute bus ride  and 20 minute walks. It all depends on your location and what public transport is available to you. Obviously, you’ll be paying more the closer you are to the centre of the city (and therefore closer to the University). I don’t mind travelling into the city, particularly as much of the time I am travelling with friends.
 
Now I can only speak for King’s residences, and of that I have obviously only lived at one. I have visited (and heard of) a few others due to friends living there, so I will give a rundown of these the best I can. So as follows, here are the Accommodation Awards for KCL Residences 2017:
 
Furthest Away, Most Modern and Highest Concentration of Woodland Creatures: Champion Hill
My residence, and arguably the furthest away is Champion Hill. Located in the suburb of Denmark Hill, it is connected by the Overground, National Rail services and buses. While the bus takes longer in London due to traffic, it has the advantage of being the cheapest. £1.50 will get you as far as you need to go – no zone charges, unlike the tube or rail. The absence of an underground does mean sometimes it takes slightly longer to get somewhere, but in a city as large as London, almost everyone has a long trip at some point.
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Because the residence is quite far out (although in London terms, its as close to the city as Mount Eden or Parnell), it has quite a suburban feel. I love this about the area, as you feel like you can get away from the hustle and bustle of it all and relax. Even better – the amount of squirrels and even a few foxes living in the area! Much to the amusement of my American and British friends, who are used to seeing these, I find it very exciting every time I see one! Now that we’re fully in Spring here in London, they seem to be out and about more, to help me get my fix of woodland creatures.
 
Rooms here are pretty spacious – similar to that of Carlaw Park Student Village/University Hall at UoA, although slightly narrower. The best part about these rooms is whilst it is classed as a non-ensuite, you still get your own shower and hand basin, sharing a toilet with around 4 others on your floor – which is great. Champion Hill does offer rooms with their own toilet as well, although these are slightly more expensive. Like the other residences, they come with a shared kitchen which you share with some of your flatmates.
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I cannot speak for the other residences, but I will say that there are very few events put on by the halls, so it can be difficult to meet others in your hall. Apparently this is due to the fact of my arrival time – I have heard they have lots of events in O week in September, and I arrived for the second semester in January. So if you are relying on those kind of events to meet people, I might suggest choosing to go for the Fall semester. However I will say that it is not impossible – as long as you put yourself out there, you will definitely be able to meet some people. Remember – your hall experience is what you make of it!
 
Highest Percentage of Study Abroad Students: Great Dover St
Located very near to London Bridge, this is a really nice centrally located hall. I have friends who reside at this dorm, and have visited it a few times. Mostly first year students live here, although a large majority of study abroad students are placed here – making it a great community to meet other like-minded study abroad students. However, it might be slightly harder as a result to meet British students, as they tend to put all the study abroad students together. The rooms are slightly smaller than that of Champion Hill, but they have full ensuites in all of the rooms. The rooms are organised into groups of about 8, which all share a communal kitchen. The location means its about a 20-30 minute walk to the Waterloo Campus, and slightly further to the Strand Campus. However if you’re placed at Guy’s campus – it is very close by!
 
Best Suburb Name: Julian Markham
This first year dorm also hosts other study abroad students in a similar set-up to Great Dover. It is located in a zone one suburb of Elephant and Castle, which arguably has the coolest name of an area I’ve found so far in London. It’s a 20 minute walk again to Waterloo campus or a very short bus ride if you’re running late! The rooms are similar size to that of Great Dover with a similar layout – ensuites with a shared kitchen.
 
Laziest Commute: Stamford St Apartments
You can imagine my envy, when on the first day of classes after a busy 40 minute bus ride into the Waterloo campus for class, I look directly across the street and see a KCL residence. Students that live there and have classes at the Waterloo Campus literally have to roll out of bed and they’re already at class – which I was beyond jealous of! Although – no excuse for missing class! While it’s a great timesaver and very convenient, the apartments cost an extra£40 per week (around $80NZD) and being that central means they are probably pretty used to lots of noise. Definitely something to weigh up though if you like your sleep!
 
From the Residences that I have seen, most seem to offer a good way of living, all in similar circumstances. However, the nicest ones are arguably Angel Lane in Stratford and Champion Hill – some of the furthest out, but recently renovated so they offer a few more modern additions.  While London is expensive, it is an amazing hub of culture, art, history and business. It is incredible to be living and studying in the heart of such a city, you barely notice the transport times or accommodation costs. If you’re an urbanite like me – I can definitely recommend living in London while studying abroad. 
 
More perks of living in London – it is such a great hub to get to other places in Europe! I’ve currently visited Scotland, Denmark and Sweden. I’m then off in a week to visit a friend in the Netherlands, followed by a trip to Cologne and Berlin, Germany with some study abroad friends! 
 
Until next time,
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Food, glorious food: Elizabeth

Food is perhaps my best part of life. Going on exchange it’s even better – using ‘well I won’t be here in six months’ as an excuse to buy excessive amounts of food is my favourite thing.

The hard part about living in a new city is not knowing straight off the bat where the best places to get food are. Although through trial and error (and lots of other people’s recommendations), I’ve done all the work so you guys have some top quality food to try if you’re ever in Nottingham!

Best cafés

My best advice to any exchange student looking to move to England (but outside of London) is to give up coffee now. You don’t want a caffeine headache when a burnt coffee from Starbucks is likely to be your best option. New Zealanders love good coffee, supposedly the Brits do too but I am yet to find much evidence of it – I would like take this opportunity to thank to the Uni Bookshop Costa for the worst flat white of my life.

The upside to the normally terrible coffee: bonding with other New Zealanders and Australians about it. I’m not saying that I’m friends with one of the Australians because of mutual complaining about rubbish coffee, but it definitely helped! That being said, there are a few hidden gem in among the very below average quality coffee.

Greenhood, Beeston
This is my local café – if local means a 15 minute walk away – and an absolute star. The people who work here are lovely, the locals are friendly, and the coffee is decent. What more could a girl ask for? I’ve spent many an afternoon here studying (or talking to friends while I should be studying) over a coffee or several. They also always have a small selection of homemade cakes which are always incredible – I can definitely recommend their Elderflower and cream cake.

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This was the first decent flat white I’d had in Nottingham and I had already been there for four weeks!
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Greenhood – appropriately named, because – if you remember from my other blog – everything is Robin Hood themed here

200 Degrees, Nottingham City

While Greenhood is my local, 200 Degrees is my favourite. The coffee is superb, the sign outside is always hilarious, and it’s just all around spectacular. There’s also a branch by the train station that I haven’t been to yet but I’m sure it’s just as good.  I always make an excuse to go when I’m in the city.

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Unfortunately, the Brits don’t do brunch like New Zealanders do. This is the worst thing about the country as far as I’m concerned. I have no recommendations in Nottingham and it kills me a little bit inside – especially since my friends in Auckland keep going to cute new brunch places at home. So please get your brunch fill while you’re still in Auckland!

Restaurants
Being a broke uni student doesn’t change while you’re on exchange (in fact, it usually gets worse), so I can’t say I’ve made it out to that many restaurants (the exchange rate kills me a little bit sometimes).

One place I can recommend is Annie’s Burgers in the centre of Nottingham. They have about 30 different burgers on the menu, from classic to weird and wonderful. My friend had the Elvis which is PB&J flavoured – just incredible.

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My burger, can’t remember what it was called but it had cheese, bacon, and a hashbrown – marvellous!

The best hot chocolates I’ve had: a series
In my attempt to get rid of my caffeine addiction (with varying levels of success), and because chocolate is amazing, I tried to switch from coffee to hot chocolate when I went to cafes. This has resulted in some incredible drinks, even if coffee is still number one in my heart.

 

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Mum’s Great Comfort Food – Edinburgh, Scotland. You should go here not only for the deluxe hot chocolates, but also because the menu has the best comfort food in the world. My friends and I went three times while we in Edinburgh over New Years, and I took my other friends here when I went back during Easter

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The Breakfast Club – Soho, London. I waited for 45 minutes in line to get into this brunch place and can confirm it was 10/10 worth the wait. Look at those mini marshmellows!!
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Northpoint – St Andrew’s, Scotland. Not only was this malteasers hot chocolate life changing, but this was the café where Will + Kate had their very first date. If you’re as royals-obsessed as me, this café is a must
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York’s Chocolate Story – York, England. I paid £10.50 to go through a chocolate museum and it was not wasted. The chilli hot chocolate at the café afterwards was pretty good too

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 Cooking food yourself
Since I live in a self-catered apartment, it means I have to cook for myself. I’m honestly cooking on exchange because a) you’re not studying as hard as you would at home so there’s more time and b) FRESH PRODUCE IS SO MUCH CHEAPER HERE! Honestly, berries at tesco are the same price (if not cheaper) off-season in England than they are in-season in New Zealand. I’ve been able to cook with loads more veges and delicious things than I can at home because it’s just way more affordable. Also they seem to always have Ben&Jerry’s on sale for £2.50 which is equally amazing and dangerous.

The range of food is also much wider than at home! Although there are still some things missing though. I searched the whole supermarket but couldn’t find fresh pesto. Plus, there’s no Wattie’s Tomato sauce here which breaks my lil kiwi heart (and annoys my flatmates to no end because I never shut up about it and they’re all from other countries and don’t understand).  My best advice for the stuff you miss is to make friends with a New Zealander or Australian whose parents send them a care package! I managed to sneak two tim tams and half a packed of chicken crimpy shapes off one of my friends and it was beautiful.

Traditional English Food
As far as traditional English food goes, it’s not that different from New Zealand most of the time. At the start of semester my flatmates and I tried sampling as many British chocolates and crisps as we could, but apart from that I haven’t noticed much difference (but that might be because Mum’s English). My favourites that you can’t get in NZ are quavers, cheese and onion Walker’s crisps, hot vimto, and Cadbury’s caramel chocolate (the caramel is WAY better than our caramellos, although it’s the same idea). Plus they have way more variety in popcorn at the supermarket which is fantastic – I’m partial to tesco branded salty & sweet popcorn for £1 a bag.

Mulled wine and cider are both big in Europe as well over winter. I tried mulled wine for the first time at Winter Wonderland in London, and although it’s not my favourite drink in the world, it was definitely nice to sip on while walking around Christmas markets.

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I was also lucky enough to stay with my mum’s family in England over Christmas and had myself a proper English Christmas dinner (complete with Yorkshire pudding, of course)! I maintain it was the best meal I’ve had on exchange. So if you’re coming over Christmas definitely try to get yourself invited to someone’s place for food!

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That’s all I’ve got to tell you for food! As always let me know if you have any questions about Nottingham or exchange in general.

As a side note, I just wanted to add to my Accommodation Awards post from last time, but the rubbish bins at Broadgate Park (where I’m living) recently featured in a meme (https://www.facebook.com/StudentProblems/videos/1235920199868044/) and so if you ever wanted to live somewhere #famous then Nottingham is your place!

Hope you’re all well – please enjoy a good flat white for me,

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United Kingdom

University of Auckland students have the opportunity to study at various universities in the United Kingdon

Let’s hear what our students have to say…

  • Most people think of going to London when they think UK but Sheffield is an underrated northern city with plenty of history, greenery and home to the Arctic Monkeys. It was voted the most generous and the safest city in the UK in 2015 and really lives up to this reputation. It’s an industrial city, with more trees than people and a village feel. Sheffield is a student city, where statistically the most graduates decide to stay on. (Natalie Wood, University of Sheffield)
  • Being away from home, I always felt very excited and found the people very friendly. It was at times a bit cold and wet in England, but not as cold and wet as I had been told it would be. Generally, it was full of beautiful architecture and public transport was very good. (Richa Garg, University of Birmingham)
  • As a bit of an Anglophile, looking at potential exchange universities in the UK was a no brainer for me. To go live in a society where tea almost literally flowed through the veins of every citizen was an opportunity too good to miss. Further than that, I love the Scottish accent, theatre and really old things, so Edinburgh really stood out as the perfect place for me. (Lauren Andrews, University of Edinburgh)
  • Glasgow is beautiful but so is the rest of Scotland – take advantage of the student tour companies and do lots of day trips to other parts of the country. Close to Glasgow and worth visiting again and again and again is Loch Lomond but there is no shortage of beautiful scenery – go to the highlands, visits other cities, take advantage of the ludicrously cheap flights to the European mainland. (Jessica Stubbing, University of Glasgow)
  • Edinburgh truly is one of my favourite cites in the world, and during my exchange I was lucky enough to see quite a few! Edinburgh city is so rich with history – even the everyday walk to university or the supermarket was interesting. The skyline, which is visible from many easily walkable viewpoints, such as Calton Hill, Arthurs Seat and Blackford Hill, is dominated by old cathedral spirals, clock towers and of course, the Edinburgh castle. (Natasha Neeve, University of Edinburgh)
  • One of the exciting things about going on exchange is being thrown out of your comfort zone and being put into a new environment and calling it home for a while, I remember my very first impression of London being how big it is. I can safely say that it’s the biggest city I’ve ever seen in my life. Kingston was a very suburban town about 40 mins outside of London city, this made it feel quite easy to settle down. I remember walking around in Kingston thinking of how lively and cute it is, as somewhat of a student town I felt like I was going to have a great time living here there seemed to be so much to see and do. (Roberto Panovski, Kingston University London)

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On culture

  • When I first arrived in London I must admit I was pretty overwhelmed. London is a huge city and walking down Oxford Street was nothing like Queen Street in Auckland. I had never seen so many people, buses or stores. However, within a couple of days I quickly realised that I loved London and there was just so much to see. (Allanah Colley, King’s College London)
  • Orientation was incredibly helpful and gave me the opportunity to make loads of friends. Both local and exchange students. Sheffield has the best students union in the country, with plenty of offices, tour guides and drop ins no matter where you are. They had plenty of activities set up, there was a dance, games, historical tours, campus tours, workshops to sign up for clubs and weekly weekend trips to other UK cities. (Natalie Wood, University of Sheffield)
  • King’s offers a rich selection of clubs and activities. Their student union is amazing, and there’s always something to head along to – a student play, or a debate for Black History Month, or the student bar to commiserate about election night. I joined the Literary Journal editorial team, and helped to produce a beautiful edition which we launched with the help of wine and crisps in the middle of the city. (Sophie van Waardenberg, King’s College London)
  • The most unique thing about St Andrews – other than the centuries-old architecture and the fact you might walk past an ancient castle on your way to class – is the tight-knit student culture. Being a small town, student life dominates St Andrews. There are so many unique events (including black-tie balls – I recommend trying to get tickets to Christmas Ball!), societies (which put on heaps of events), and pubs (which I frequented many times) all centred around students. It’s impossible not to be thrown into St Andrews’ student life – which is great for making friends. (Michael Calderwood, University of St Andrews)
  • At first I was slightly apprehensive of the fact that I would be living in Kingston, as it is a 40 minute train ride away from London city, but I quickly learned how amazing this would prove to be. I still remember how excited I was on my first day going to London city, seeing it for the first time I was amazed. I made the effort to go into London city every Saturday to explore and see as much as I could in the city, it became natural walking around in that colossal city and navigating the tube system was so easy I got to the point where I didn’t need to look at a tube map. There were so many benefits to living outside of London city, I got the best of both worlds. (Roberto Panovski, Kingston University London)

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On orientation

  • With the events put on by the Study Abroad team at King’s during Orientation week I found it very easy to make friends (even though I was nervous about this!). I truly made lifelong friends at King’s who became my new family and were a source of invaluable support during my time away. (Allanah Colley, King’s College London)
  • Orientation Week, or Fresher’s Week as it’s known in the UK, was no disappointment and some of my finest memories from my exchange are from that first week. (Sebastian Bailey, University of Manchester)
  • Also, Leeds University had many welcoming parties for exchange students like me which gave me many opportunities to talk to and get along with many other people from different countries. The orientation was good, the staffs were very friendly and easy to talk to. I loved the Leeds University as the campus was so much bigger than Auckland University and academically there was less pressure on grades and the courses were not as tight and difficult so allowed me to have some relaxing time. (Jiwon Hyeong, University of Leeds)
  • Beyond just being outrageously beautiful, I loved my time at Glasgow Uni for the people. Everyone I met was incredibly welcoming and open to me – they are always happy to help with whatever you need. The exchange student orientation was great for meeting other study abroad students and also orients you really well to being in the UK in between the tours around the city and day trips to Edinburgh. (Jessica Stubbing, University of Glasgow)

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On housing

  • The accommodation I stayed in was probably one of the highlights of my experience; it was directly on campus, central to everything you need, and I became very close to all my flatmates who also became my travel buddies in the weekends. (April Wong, University of Glasgow)
  • With King’s College I was lucky enough to live in Borough, which is very centrally located and within walking distance or a quick tube ride away from most of London’s sights. I was living in one of the University’s Residences, and was paying relatively cheap rent for being able to live so centrally. My flat was full of other study abroad students from around the world, and I made lots of friends through my Hall. (Allanah Colley, King’s College London)
  • My accommodation at St Andrews was incredible. I was lucky enough to be in Agnes Blackadder Hall where I had my own bathroom and a double bed! There was obviously a desk in my room to use to study or the study room at the hall was open 24/7. (Olivia Scott, University of St Andrews)
  • My residence hall was unbelievably nice – I had an ensuite bathroom, double bed, and TV in my room. I was catered, and the food was decent enough — there were also so many great options for affordable meals in town, and Tesco grocery store is right in the centre of town. There were events put on by the hall every week, including free pre-drinks before big events. I met most of my friends in St Andrews through hanging out in the kitchen that my corridor shared. (Michael Calderwood, University of St Andrews)
  • In Manchester, my accommodation was “Oak House” which is situated in Fallowfield. I had my own room and shared a bathroom with three other girls. My flatmates and I became very close, we cooked meals and baked delicious sweets in our kitchen throughout the semester. (Briana Putnam, University of Manchester)

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On academics

  • Although the coursework at Glasgow proved to be challenging – if not harder than Auckland – being on exchange helped me put things in perspective. I worked with local students in my classes and we formed study groups after class, and I was regularly in contact with my professors about aspects of Scottish law I found challenging. I realised that reaching out and asking for help when you needed it can do wonders when you’re on exchange. (April Wong, University of Glasgow)
  • I really enjoyed the classes I took at King’s College. I took European Politics and English Literature papers, including a Shakespeare paper where I had classes at the Globe Theatre! My lecturers were all passionate, helpful and very knowledgeable in their fields. (Allanah Colley, King’s College London)
  • All my lecturers were very professional and very helpful especially towards exchange students, always taking the time to answer any questions properly after class. The courses I took were interesting, and actually made me excited for more study. (Richa Garg, University of Birmignahm)
  • The final, and probably most important highlight of my St Andrews experience was the learning environment. Instead of having face to face lectures with the teaching staff, a lot of learning was self directed reading. Each class would then have 1-2 hours a week contact time to discuss and expand on that learning. I feel that this style, as well as the expectation of quality, really challenged me and I was able to understand and analyse concepts more critically. The teaching staff are also very friendly and easy to contact should any difficulties arise. (Olivia Scott, University of St Andrews)
  • Studying at King’s has been an absolutely incredible experience. From the daily crossing of the Waterloo bridge in getting to classes to the afternoons spent in the Dumbledore’s office like Maughan library, from the passionate lectures given by professors with posh British accents to the Friday afternoon tutorials that promised a peaceful sunset view of the Big Ben. Together they take you on a journey through time, a journey through the past 188 years reminding each and every Kings’ student of the rigour and diligence with which the generations of scholars have worked in search of the truth. As a student at King’s I was constantly challenged and thoroughly enjoyed the rigorous academic atmosphere. (John Liang, King’s College London)

 

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On travel

  • One of the highlights of my exchange was being able to travel so frequently and learning about different cultures. I was away from Glasgow almost every other weekend with my flatmates and we took advantage of the cheap air fares! With proper budgeting, I realised that there wasn’t any place that we could not go to. It was surreal being able to experience a different city in a different country weekend, and coming back to Glasgow to study during the week. (April Wong, University of Glasgow)
  • When I wasn’t studying, I spent my time in London going to markets, parks and gardens, visiting Buckingham palace, exploring art galleries and museums, getting lost in bookshops and department stores, being in the Graham Norton audience, wandering past the Thames river, going to musicals and shows on the West End as well as eating delicious food. There really is something for everyone in London – it is such a vibrant city and there is always something amazing going on. (Allanah Colley, King’s College London)
  • I visited the Peak district often, it is a 5 pound return on the bus. There are beautiful cycling trails, hikes and quant villages to explore and its right on your doorstep. Flights to Europe are also insanely cheap. I went to Portugal, Macedonia, Hungary, Ireland, Bulgaria and Germany. All of these flights ranged from 10-30 pounds. This makes it affordable if just for a weekend. (Natalie Wood, University of Sheffield)
  • Manchester also has a very big international airport, and I was able to pick up extraordinarily cheap flights to places all over Europe. I was able to visit places like Tenerife, Hamburg, Dublin, Barcelona and lots more places for outrageously cheap prices. (Sebastian Bailey, University of Manchester)
  • It’s easy to escape, too. As well as exploring Cardiff and Bath, I wandered around Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Munich, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Salzburg, Barcelona, and Paris, and the list goes sickeningly on and on. If you’re lucky, you can grab a ten-pound flight to France and have a weekend away, eating pastries and pretending to speak the language of love. (Sophie van Waardenberg, King’s College London)
  • While Studying in London I took great advantage of this opportunity and visited 12 countries with friends during weekends and study breaks. This has by far been the most memorable experience in my life, the friendships developed during these travels, the diverse cultures explored and the different people I got to meet are all intangible assets that will I cherish forever. (John Liang, King’s College London)

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Tips

  • If I had one piece of advice for outgoing exchange students, it’d be to enjoy each day as if it were your last day on exchange! This helps you put little everyday challenges in perspective and allows you to appreciate the people you have around you. (April Wong, University of Glasgow)
  • I highly recommend doing the exchange programme. Home will always be there, but the opportunity to study abroad may not. I have loved every minute of it, and although I am excited to come home, I am upset that it’s now over and that I must part with my new friends. (Richa Garg, University of Birmingham)
  • I felt this exchange programme gives you broader views of seeing the world because during the exchange period and while you travel, it allows you time to think about a lot of things: about your future, about yourself etc. which, I believe, actually helped me become more mature and gain more confidence through this time. (Jiwon Hyeong, University of Leeds)
  • I learned that I can accomplish a lot more than I thought I could and part of this was due to what I would recommend to future exchange students: make the most of your experience by getting involved in University life, seek new friendships and soak up as much information and culture as you can. Furthermore, even though it may be tempting to spend the semester partying and travelling, university life on the other side of the world is definitely an experience not to miss as well. (Briana Putnam, University of Manchester)
  • Going on exchange is hard. It’s an experience that will force you to grow, to go outside your comfort zone, to challenge yourself. But I guarantee that for every second of discomfort you will be rewarded with months and months of memories that you will take with you for the rest of your life. (Jessica Stubbing, University of Glasgow)