The beginning of my exchange experience at the University of Nottingham, UK – by Sophia Sweet

The first week of my exchange program at the University of Nottingham was filled with excitement, enthusiasm and not as much partying as expected. Being all of 22 years old can make for a vastly different exchange experience in comparison to those who are fresh out of school (freshers…).

Freshers’ week began on Monday 22nd September, which was heavily scheduled with themed parties, society and sport club sign ups, and the somewhat daunting process of making new friends.

Themed parties:

This would have been right up my alley if had just finished school. Think Schoolies, but bigger. Every night a different themed party was held at a nightclub where hundreds, even thousands, of enthusiastic eighteen year olds get together and have a jolly old time fuelled by beer and cheap wine. Fortunately, Nottingham is home to a few glorious pubs and bars. This provides ample refuse for those who feel a tad too old to be bumping and grinding with girls and boys that could be the age of your little brother/sister.

Societies and Sports clubs:

Freshers’ fair. This event was held over the first three days of Freshers’ week. It gave all new and continuing students to speak to members of societies and sports clubs and consider signing up for membership. The vast array of societies still astonishes me. They had everything from the Rowing to Quidditch.

Making friends:

The first point of call here is your flat mates. These are the first friends that I made and thankfully I made one particularly good friend from my flat who was the same age as me and had similar ideas about what we wanted from the exchange experience. Everyone in my building was an exchange student so at the beginning it was really nice to be around people who are all in the same boat as you and form some strong friendships out of that.

Once you begin lectures, it’s a whole other kettle of fish! Like me, you may not have any classes with the people you have met so far as the variety of degrees studied by exchange students is pretty vast. This was a chance to meet the British students who actually live here and you can get a real sense of what it is like to live and study in a different country and university.

I find that once you are a few weeks into the exchange, you start settling into a rhythm. Hanging out with friends like you would at home on the weekends and trying to focus on study during the week. And of course travelling when ever you get the chance!

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