“You really love the U.K don’t you?”
“What gave me away?”
My desk is full of English postcards, a Jane Austen cross stitch, copious amounts of English Literature, John Lewis stationary, monarchy memorabilia, drawings of Shakespeare, a red telephone box, a Doctor Who Tardis and a couple of stray Twinings teabags (I always leave them in odd places, on the upside it really gives you something to brew over). There was no doubt about selecting the U.K as my top exchange destination but as to the exact university, I remained in the dark (metaphorically). When choosing your host university it is helpful to consider what type of things you want to experience or be near, for example I knew I wanted to be up North with easy access to Scotland, I wanted to live in an established city that accommodated students and I wanted to be near English countryside (I’m sure people from South England would be incredulous as to why I favoured the Northern countryside). That narrowed down my search. As I read student reviews of the Universities, mainly up North, the University of Leeds kept popping up. People spoke very highly of the university and the city itself, so before I knew it Leeds had made it to the top of my preference list and now here I am, currently preparing to move to study and live in Leeds for 6 months. Exciting times.
It’s strange to think that most students in the U.K move out of home for University yet here in Australia the vast majority of people live at home and commute to University. There are countless benefits but I feel as if a significant drawback is the limited living out of home skill set you develop while still living at home. That said, I’m pretty thrilled to be trying my hand out at this moving out business. In term of preparing for exchange I think I was ignorant as to how many little things you needed to take into account. I found it really helpful to keep writing a to do list and ticking them off as I completed them (writing an extra long ‘to do’ list is worth the satisfaction of that 1 second tick, ah the action brings me much delight). It’s worth just focusing on the essential details before worrying about the minor details -accommodation, visa, passport, module selection, banking and finances. As it was, it took me a while to make peace with the fact that I didn’t need to research and select my favourite coffee shop or spend an unhealthy amount of time on Google maps tracing my walk to uni (who me? Never.)
It’s pretty amazing how you can feel both thrilled and terrified for something- I keep oscillating between the two emotions. I’m really excited for the things I will learn while living out of home because I feel as if they will prove foundational for the rest of my life. I’m also looking forward to fire lit pubs, Tesco meal deals, English & Scottish history, weekend trips, copious amounts of tea and a heightened likelihood of meeting the royals.
To my future housemates, please be kind to me or remind me to laugh at myself when I make mistakes as I inevitably will and Leeds prepare yourself- I’m coming for you.
by Emily Buchanan – University of Sydney – Australia