Exchange to the University of Sussex – by Hayley Silenieks

I caught my flight on the 12th of September to London. The flight itself was very long and I spent most of the time sleeping and eating the meals which weren’t that bad. When I got to Heathrow I caught the free coach service run by the uni and met my first friend called Kirsten, who is from Portland, Oregon. We chatted for the whole 2 hour drive to the University of Sussex and met up at introductory events during our first week there.

The international student support ran lots of events especially in the first week to allow people to meet each other. I went to a lot of these and that’s how I made a lot of my friends. I went to the Brighton shopping tour and “Brighton Old and New”, where I got to spend time with Kirsten and also meet new people.

One event that I went to alone was the international welcome dinner. I was very nervous to go because I didn’t know anyone and though I would look a bit strange standing by myself, but as soon as I walked up to the bar I instantly made a friend who introduced me to a few other people who I hung around with for the rest of the night. I’m so glad I went because this group of people became my best friends and we hung out almost weekly.

In the first week when I was still getting to know the campus and Brighton I joined the buddy scheme which allowed me to paired with a local student to help me if I needed it. I met up with my buddy in my first week and she helped to show me Brighton so I could then return confidently by myself. The buddy scheme also ran lots of local events at discounted rates, which was also a great way to meet people. I met one of my best friends Brittney on a trip to a local aquarium.

The international student office also organised trips but most of these were around the UK and not based around Brighton. I went on many of these such as the London coach tour, tour to Oxford, tour to Bath, and Harry Potter world. These were great experiences and another way to meet people. Also, it allowed me to see places in the UK which I would otherwise not have seen.

A trip I booked by myself was to Paris. I didn’t know anyone on this trip but I made some along the way and it was a dream come true. England is a great place to go on exchange because it is so close to all of Europe and travel is very convenient.

In my last few days in England I visited my distant relatives in Yorkshire. It was an amazing experience meeting them and experiencing where my grandparents lived.

In terms of study it’s very different to the set out of the psychology program at Adelaide. Teaching was a lot more seminar based and there were less assignments. This sounds great but the assignments we did have were more heavily weighted which made it very stressful. Despite the stress I did enjoy the seminars more than lectures as it allows me to engage with the content more.

Overall I highly recommend exchange to anyone considering it. It is an amazing experience if you get involved with as much as you can, as you will meet more people this way. I’m glad I did as I met my best friends there who are from all over the world and they will be friends for life.

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