I began my exchange at the University of Sussex on the 27th of January. After a long flight, I landed at Gatwick Airport, and caught the short 20 minute train ride into Brighton, where I moved into my new room. The accommodation allocated to me was the university managed off- campus accommodation on King’s Road. At first I was a little disappointed that I didn’t receive on- campus accommodation, as this was the experience I was hoping for, but looking back on it now I am so grateful for where they placed me.
The building I live in has 7 floors, each with 3 flats. Each flat has six students living in it, with a mix of international students and first year students. It’s great to have your own room, and sharing a bathroom was much easier that I thought. The people in my flat are lovely, and it’s so valuable to have that support around you. The accommodation is great on Kings road because my room looks out over the ocean, which I think has been the highlight of my exchange! Daily walks on the beach are amazing, and Brighton is an absolutely beautiful town. It’s very young, arty, lively and active.
The atmosphere is great, there are always people enjoying the beach, even though it’s been too cold to swim, and there are so many shops, galleries and cafes to explore. You will never run out things to do here, there is a huge array of cheap restaurants, bars, cinemas, theatres and cafes to explore, and lots of live music! Brighton is small enough that it doesn’t take long to orientate yourself, and it didn’t take long before I felt right at home. It’s also great because it is only an hour from London by train, and so close to Gatwick airport. It’s also very easy to bus into the university if you’re off campus (the bus system here is great) and the weather is never too grey for long; being by the coast there’s been lots of sunshine.
The things that I was most worried about before I left I quickly realized were going to be ok. The international support team is amazing at organizing the first week; there were so many events and orientations that I hardly had any time to worry or feel scared about meeting people. Within the first day I’d made friends who now are like family to me. By the end of the fresher’s week I had made an amazing group of friends, and almost three months later we are still a very close group, and have done a lot of travelling together. Making friends with exchange students is helpful as on the occasions I’ve been feeling homesick (which have been far less than I expected), there is someone going through the exact same thing that you can talk to. Another thing I was worried about was settling into the university courses, but they are amazingly similar to my courses at Adelaide in the way they are run and set out, so it was such an easy transition.
If I have any advice it’s not to worry before you arrive, I did a lot of worrying about settling in, making friends and starting at a new university, but very soon it feels just like home, everyone is very friendly and helpful. I have never made friends more easily than I have here, when you’re all thrown into it everyone is grateful for a friend! I would also recommend saying yes to as many opportunities as you can, especially at the beginning. Time goes very quick over here, it’s a great time to get to know yourself, how strong you can be and what you’re capable of. I have about a month left now, and while I am excited to come home this has been an amazing experience, I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. One thing that I’ve found is that the low points are always followed by a high point, you never feel down for long!