Exchange to the University of Leeds – by Ashlee Ferencz

In August 2014, I departed Adelaide to commence my six month exchange at The University of Leeds, UK. Before leaving, I hoped I would return having seen more of the world and perhaps having made more friends. Now that I am half way through my six month journey, I can certainly say that I am going to return with so much more than just that.

The thought of moving to a different country for six months was a frightening, yet exciting concept. Leaving friends and family to live on the other side of the world was the biggest decision I have ever made. However, now that I am here, I can truly say that it was the best thing I have ever done. Before leaving for exchange, I thought I knew what I wanted from life; what I wanted to achieve. However, now that I have been exposed to so many new experiences, opportunities, places and people, I have new aspirations and new plans.

The last three months have been three of the most rewarding, exciting and eventful three months of my life. I still remember the day I moved into my student accommodation. For me, this was when reality finally sunk in. Discovering where I’d be living and the people I’d be living with, was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences so far. But I can now saw that I am living with seven of the most beautiful people I have ever met, who I now consider as family.

One aspect of my exchange I have always been very excited about is the opportunity to travel. Europe is such a beautiful and multicultural place to explore and almost everything is on my doorstep. Through these travelling experiences, I have not only gained a greater understanding for different cultures and different ways of life, but have also gained a much greater appreciation for Australia.

My time here overseas is going by so quickly and before I know it, it will be over.  But the friends I have made, the places I have seen and the experiences I have had, have already truly shaped the person I am today. Upon returning home, I am going to be a completely changed person with a different perspective on life. Knowing that I have made such a daring decision gives me confidence moving forward with my life. My time overseas has completely changed my perspective on the way I view the world and I already have so many cherished memories that will remain with me for a lifetime. I have a better understanding of who I am and who I want to be. I now know what I am capable of and I have an entirely different perspective on my future and the goals I hope to achieve. This exchange has truly been a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am so grateful and proud to have made this journey.

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