So, you’re considering a semester abroad and studying in the UK is one of your choices. Or perhaps, you’ve already sent in your application, but just want to know that tiny bit more about the UK. Or maybe, you’re just procrastinating on a Wednesday afternoon. Either way, it’s a good thing you’ve found this article, because here is your handy guide to life as a student in Australia vs in the UK.
The first big difference, of course, is the weather. The stereotypes are true, on both sides: the UK is perpetually wet and windy, and Australia is a sunny haven. Regardless of whether you spend Semester 1 or 2 in the UK, you will end the semester being no stranger to the cold elements. However, it is not all gloom and doom in the UK. The euphoria, the madness, the unbridled joy that the country will fall into when the sun is out makes all the rain worth it. All jokes aside, within two weeks, you will acclimatise to the temperature difference, and it will all be okay.
Now, university life will depend on what university and what courses you do. The set up of lectures, seminars and labs are the same; the main difference is assessment. In the UK, you don’t have your grades spread out over small assignments like in Australia. Gone are the days of 10 mark quizzes or 20% short essays. You will be assessed in large chunks, often 100% exam, or 50% exam/50% coursework.
Another difference is a campus vs city university. All of the Griffith University locations are what we call campus universities, i.e., all the university buildings being in one location, not that close to the city centre and not spread all over the city. City universities are often more central to the city centre, but this locality means buildings have to spread out across the city, so you may have to travel from lecture to lecture. Again, this obviously depends on the university, and each set-up has their own pros and cons.
A MASSIVE part of university life in the UK is societies. There are academic societies, where they can help with assignments and provide events around the subject. There are sports societies, arts societies, and recreational societies, from Cheese Appreciation society to Model UN society. I was a bit in shock when I walked around Griffith on orientation week, and there weren’t a million and one societies trying to get me to sign up. Societies are one of the main ways that you can meet people and make new friends, and plays a lot larger of a role in your university life.
A heads up though – societies do have a sign-up fee. Some are as little as £5, such as Asian society, but the most I’ve paid is £120 for swimming society (but this included access to the pool, coached swimming sessions etc). So, perhaps choose how many societies you sign up for carefully.
If you are on a semester abroad, then one thing many students want to do is travel. Unlike Australia, there are many countries that are close and cheap to get to. Denmark, France, Amsterdam, and Ireland are all examples of countries that are easily and cheaply accessible. All these countries have a long, rich history, individual culture and amazing attractions. Truly, I think the chance to get to experience so many different ways of life is one the biggest pros about studying the UK.