University of Birmingham Exchange- By Rachel Wong

Last year I was fortunate enough to embark on a semester abroad studying at the University of Birmingham. I chose to study two of my law electives (Environmental Law and Human Rights and Criminal Justice) and another topic (Rural Livelihoods in West Africa) that contributed towards my arts degree.


The University of Birmingham had a very similar structure to Adelaide in their organisation and administration of courses, general university life, as well as the learning aspect. This made it incredibly easy for me to transition and settle in here. The methods of teaching and resources (like MyUni) used were similar, and the contact hours I had were comparable to Adelaide. They also used a lecture-tutorial structure to learning, even the running program of tutorials was the same (in the way of class discussions and the level of preparation needed for class). I found that the lecturers were kind and approachable, always making time to talk with you and see them outside of class. For my law subjects the most interesting aspect about it was that it was taught within the context of the United kingdom and Europe. This was new for me and had to familiarise myself with a different body of authority and the processes that the UK goes through.


Regarding my living situation, I decided to opt for university accommodation. I was placed in a flat with five other students who were first years, despite being in fourth year this was not a problem for me. In fact it made it easier for me because they were also new to Birmingham and looking to make friends since most students in the UK move for university. My friendships extended beyond the flat to the entire block and the ‘Ashcroft’ accommodation district. Conveniently, we had created Facebook groups to keep in touch and attend social events together. Since it is such a large university there were also many other international students (quite a few from Adelaide itself), and international societies organised many events for other international students like myself to make friends.


I was responsible for my own wellbeing, like: the cooking, cleaning, laundry, time management for study, and so on. This was important for me to discover the extent of my independent capabilities. My room was very spacious, and I shared the bathroom and kitchen with my flatmates. The college administration ensured that we wrote up a ‘living agreement’ so that there was no inequality in chores being carried out. Furthermore the accommodation was very safe, cameras everywhere and 24 hour security. Living in accommodation very near to the university campus was ideal, making it easy to go back and forth between classes and eating at home to save some money! Also, because many shops are built close to the university for student living, it was easy for me to buy groceries from the supermarket near by or even from the farmers market on campus. This included transportation options, there is a ‘university’ train station on campus especially for students and lecturers, I could be within the city centre in twenty minutes, or London in an hour and a half.


The university campus itself is beautiful. I was fortunate enough to be around in the Autumn term, which meant that the grounds were decorated with a thick layer of rustic leaves. I found that I spent a lot of my time around campus, especially in the law library, a cozy place that was great to get assignments and homework done. As an affiliate student for the semester, I only had assessments due at the end, this included a major assignment for each topic that I did. In terms of the social aspect of the university, Birmingham has many societies that you can join. After attending the university societies fair, I joint the Christian youth group, Baking Society as well as the University Chorus. I throughly enjoyed being involved with campus life, and being a part of other social groups meant even more opportunities to meet people with similar interests.


My time spent studying abroad is one of the best times of my life, and I do not regret going at all. I only wish that I could have gone for longer. The best part was having the opportunity to study and do some travel on the other side of the world, there are cheap flights to Europe constantly and the other advantage is that it is so close to the UK. It is a once in a lifetime experience living abroad as a student, something I recommend everyone to experience. I am so grateful for this opportunity that Study Abroad has made available to students. Contact me if you have any questions, I am happy to answer!

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