It’s less than five weeks to go ‘til I say goodbye to my vibrant hometown of Melbourne and say hello to what I expect to be the spectacular Leeds. Personally, it hasn’t kicked in yet that I’m leaving. Subconsciously, I still think I’m going into third year at Monash University, where I’ll have the comfort of my friends and familiar faces, where I can navigate the campus somewhat without effort and where I’m only a short drive away from home. But in a few weeks’ time I’ll be nervously boarding a plane by myself to a country I’ve never been to on the other side of the world. My desire to go on exchange stems all the way back to my penultimate year in high school, when I missed out on a study abroad experience to Japan. Following that, I vowed to myself that I would take up the opportunity to study abroad during university. And now, here I am, finally being presented the chance to go, which I’m extremely grateful for. Choosing a host university, however, was not easy, especially since my home university is partnered with so many colleges and universities across the world. I decided to look into the UK, since my family lived there for five years before I was born. Coincidentally, they lived in Yorkshire, which I didn’t know at the time I was applying for Leeds. Perhaps it was fate all along?
I’m 20 years old and have lived in Melbourne my whole life. As cheesy as it sounds, I want to see the world while I can, especially being so young. I want to experience different cultures and see their practices, expose my taste palette to various foods and explore the myriad of architecture and landscapes that Europe is so renowned for. And of course, meet new people from all sorts of backgrounds. Most of all, I want to learn the skills that come with having to be independent. Since coming to university, I have created a ‘comfort-zone bubble’ that I rarely step out of. I’ve had the same friends since high school and haven’t really been involved in many clubs and societies, which is why I chose Leeds as my host university.
Once I saw just how many clubs and societies Leeds had to offer, along with their no-commitment Give It a Go programme and dedicated Leeds Student Union, I was immediately drawn. Leeds has a club for just about everything. They even have a sky-diving sports club! Having never joined a sports team at university, I’d like to join the Leeds boxing team. The hiking club also caught my eye. Going on hiking trips would be a refreshing way to explore the UK countryside. While I’m nervous about making new friends, Leeds certainly doesn’t shy away from presenting you with opportunities to meet new people. There is so much helpful and comforting information on the Leeds website which gives you a taste of what to expect when studying at Leeds. I had to choose between Leeds and the University of Nottingham as my first preference, and chose the former due to the interesting (and very different) modules they offered compared to the ones at my home university. Accommodation was a little more tricky to choose, but I knew I wanted self-catered (I looooove cooking) with an en-suite and close proximity to the campus, which helped narrow down my choices. One of my friends who’s studying abroad in Canada met some students from Leeds, who gave some recommendations. I ended up choosing Devonshire Hall as my first preference.
What will I miss most about my hometown? Besides the obvious family, friends and partner, I think I’m going to miss my 12 year old cat, Snooky, the most. It will be weird not waking up to him curled up in a little ball at the foot of my bed, for 6 or so months. My last month in Melbourne will consist of spending time with my close friends, Dad and sister.
How do you prepare for the trip of a lifetime? I think no matter how prepared you think you are, there will always be something that will catch you off guard. However, there are a few things I’ve done to ensure the first part of my study abroad journey is as smooth as possible.
Plane tickets. Check.
UK Visa. Check.
Accommodation application. Check.
Module enrolment. Check.
And now we wait…
by Tiara Dealey – Monash University – Australia