Departing from Melbourne in January for my first time travelling overseas, I was very excited to start my semester at Queen Mary University of London. Despite the challenging circumstances my exchange took place in, studying at Queen Mary has been an amazing experience!
My typical weekday would start with chatting to my flatmates, and then heading to class. On Tuesdays this would involve taking a short bus ride to the Whitechapel campus for my Global Health classes. I really enjoyed the subjects I studied, learning about many topics I hadn’t encountered before including environmental racism, Irish literature and mindfulness. After class I would typically meet friends for lunch, and study in the library. Once a week I would go running along East London’s canals with the Queen Mary athletics club, through which I made a lot of friends. Afterwards we would go to Wetherspoons for dinner.
Weekends were the time for catching up on study, and for exploring London. I had a great time experiencing all that London has to offer! I saw Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, the Sky Garden (see above image), the Natural History Museum, Hyde Park and Camden Market. I also enjoyed exploring closer to home in East London, visiting Victoria Park, Brick Lane, Columbia Flower Markets and Canary Wharf. Trying new foods such as Turkish gozleme at Brick Lane and exploring the vintage clothes markets there was a great experience.
At night I would often head out with friends to explore the many unique bars and clubs London offers, including a ball-pit bar! While not travelling beyond London as much as I had planned, I really enjoyed exploring London and being immersed in a new city.
My exchange was undoubtedly challenging in ways that I didn’t expect, particularly with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and my rushed return to Australia. However, I really enjoyed my time at Queen Mary. My top tips for future exchange students are:
1. Attend events for international students and join clubs (they are a great way to make friends!)
2. Take opportunities to experience London and beyond if you would like.
3. Don’t be afraid to reach out for support if you need it. Leaving home to study in a different country can raise unexpected challenges, but I found it ultimately very rewarding.
Thank you to Monash University, and to Queen Mary University of London, for giving me this opportunity! I look forward to returning to London to visit, and to continue exploring such an exciting city!