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Exchange at the University of Bristol – by Ruth Waterman

I have always wanted to go on a university exchange and explore the United Kingdom and Europe. In 2014, I was able to realise both dreams. I considered many universities and countries before settling on studying at Bristol in the United Kingdom. I researched many universities and talked to lots of friends before choosing to study at the University of Bristol. As extra preparation before going away, I joined the University of Adelaide’s peer mentor programme, run through the International Student Centre. Working with international students gave me an idea of the experiences I would have upon arriving, fresh faced and jetlagged, in Bristol. I also met lots of students from the United Kingdom, who were more than happy to pass on their secrets for success for living in the United Kingdom.

My decision to study at Bristol University was most certainly correct. The university encourages international students to live in university accommodation called Halls. These halls hold up to 400 students, mostly first years. This was one of the highlights of my trip. There was always someone to talk to, be it in my own flat or the common room. If you were feeling a little down, there would always be someone to talk to. Beyond the student accommodation, Bristol is very lively. Every weekend there are events on in the city, usually inexpensive and within walking distance of the halls. For me the highlight was when the main street (as steep as the first section of Mt Lofty, and unfortunately the site of our university) was turned into a giant water slide. Due to the number of people wanting to go on the slide, none of my friends nor I were able to go on the slide. However, the city was abuzz with excitement!

Bristol is also a stone’s throw away from Europe, with a great airport where you can get reasonably cheap tickets to most tourist destinations. Flying out of Bristol is usually cheaper than from London, which is a four-hour bus trip away. I loved all my trips to Europe, made easier by the convenience of public transportation in Bristol.

The university itself was fascinating. Like most places in the United Kingdom, Bristol University is steeped in interesting history, with a campus composed of old and new buildings. The classes were challenging at first, but my classmates were more than eager to assist me in my flustered moments. Bristol’s grading system was very different to Australia’s (a 75%+ is virtually impossible to get), which made for a few weeks of confusion! Ultimately, I loved my time in Bristol and can’t wait to return.

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