I remember that this time a year ago I didn’t even know whether I had been accepted to study abroad or not, and it feels slightly surreal that my exchange has already happened. I’m so glad I decided to apply because I feel that it has been one of the best decisions I have made so far. Leaving Australia was hard, but it was pleasant coming home after such a long time away. I arrived back in the UK in early January so it was, ahem, much colder than Australia…I’ll just say that I miss the sun very much! Upon returning, I was at home (Cornwall) for a week and then moved back to Southampton for semester two of my second year. Initially, I found it quite hard settling in again but things improved after a while.
In terms of the academic side for studying at Adelaide, with English Literature, students in Australia usually take an ‘open arts’ degree which means taking four or so modules from ‘the arts’ which make up the degree – unlike in the UK where all (or nearly all) modules are based on your chosen subject. This meant that I was taking four English Lit. modules which hardly anyone does there (so there was more than enough reading!). However, I managed to balance the workload well although it was quite stressful at times. I also found that most people I met on exchange were at least several years older than me, which was slightly intimidating as I only just turned nineteen about a month after arriving. Although doing my exchange younger, I feel as though it has definitely given me the confidence that I would not now have, had I not tested myself.
As for my main travels at the end of my exchange, I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the freedom to have traveled where and when I did. Exams finished at the end of November. Many days were spent finishing deadlines and revising which was all worth it in the end (air-conditioning became my best friend after temperatures would often hit 40 degrees C outside…). On the evening of my last exam I flew to New Zealand, where I met a friend from home, who was traveling New Zealand the same time as me. It was an incredible experience – I saw so many beautiful places, visited Hobbiton, did a bungee jump, rode a horse through the Wairakei pine forest and geothermal landscape, and ended up doing a skydive above Lake Taupo.
In Australia, I visited Tasmania, Sydney, Byron Bay, the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Cairns – this is where I was able to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef. I also flew to Bali for Christmas and New Year’s which was so interesting to experience the culture in South-East Asia. I was also fortunate to have my sister visit and travel with me. All this traveling took a lot of time, planning and budgeting; it has made me much more independent by having to co-ordinate, research and organize everything as I had little knowledge of travelling beforehand. Although an exchange to Australia was amazing, it was also very expensive and would not have been possible had I not worked prior to leaving and had my own savings to support myself – which is definitely something to bear in mind when deciding where to go.
Lastly, I think one of the most important things to have is a positive attitude. Things did not exactly go smoothly for me when I first arrived in Australia (being on the other side of the world and not having anywhere to live was not the best start) but I managed to sort it and things worked out in the end. I’d like to say thank you to the exchange team at Southampton for helping to make my exchange possible, and also to Adelaide – I never thought I’d feel so at home, so far away from home. I definitely miss living is such a beautiful, friendly city. Before embarking on my exchange, I knew only the basics of Australia but now having lived there, I have learnt so much more. I can’t wait to go back one day.