Exchange at the University of Nottingham – by Candice Caretti

My time on exchange at the University of Nottingham in 2014 was nothing short of excellent. Not only did it force me to break out of my comfort zone in an academic sense, but also on a personal level.

Upon arrival at the University, I was confronted by freezing temperatures and a campus that appeared to go on forever. It was daunting knowing that I wouldn’t see any familiar faces for the next six months, nor would I be able to stroll into Ligertwood and know exactly what was expected of me. However the fear of the unknown was not enough to dampen the overwhelming feelings of excitement. Knowing that I was finally in Nottingham, after more than a year of planning and saving for this experience was extremely rewarding.

The first few weeks of uni were a bit of a blur, meeting and getting to know hoards of international and local students seemed to take up most of my time. This was exciting and challenging all at once. I felt as if I had been pushed out of my comfort zone in every way imaginable, and to be honest, it was difficult building relationships from scratch when one is trying to get their head around being in a foreign country to start with. At times I had doubts as to whether exchange was the right decision for me. Eventually though, after two or so weeks had passed, I settled in, began to get a feel for the place and knew that these doubts were completely unfounded (but also totally normal). The social events organized by the University of Nottingham’s International Society and those of my hall of residence (Cripps) certainly helped in this sense – they sped the ‘getting-to-know-you’ process along and I was grateful for these opportunities to talk to students of all different backgrounds, cultures and nationalities. Of course as the teaching commenced, so too did the student workload, but surprisingly the amount of day trips, nights out and other social gatherings didn’t slow. I soon came to realize that the University of Nottingham’s students prided themselves on having some of the best student events in the country, and they lived up to that fun-loving reputation. What I found at Nottingham was a student culture that actively encouraged a healthy balance between hard work and downtime (whatever form that may take), and in my opinion this was executed perfectly.

I was lucky enough to have three fantastic lecturers, who also happened to be my tutors. Not only who were they wildly passionate about their fields, but were willing to assist international students in anyway they could. I found it comforting to know that although I was on the other side of the world, my teachers were of as high a calibre as what I had experienced back home, and were just as invested in each students educational journey. British Party Politics, which started off being my most loathed and challenging subject, quickly became my favourite, which was due, in large part, to the fantastic teaching of Mark Stuart and the dynamic classes which he ran.

In terms of the University itself, my experiences were nothing but positive. If I had any concerns, administrative or otherwise, they were dealt with in a prompt and professional manner.

Overall, my exchange exceeded my expectations and is without doubt, one of the best experiences I have had thus far. I loved every minute, including the challenges that come with studying and living in the UK, as these have helped me grow as a both a student and person (as cliché as it sounds!). If a prospective student were to ask me to rate my time at the University of Nottingham, I would respond unequivocally with 10/10 and highly recommend applying. Exchange is something one won’t regret and would do again in a heartbeat.

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