A life changing experience...

Having the opportunity to study abroad was a large factor in my choice of university. And so being accepted at Reading and being given the chance to study in Australia, the decision was easy. Charlotte at La Trobe

Reading and La Trobe (in Melbourne) are very similar, they both encourage a good time alongside hard study. They are also both campus based and so it is like a small community of people, all who look out for each other.

The difference between exchange and your normal university experience is time. When you arrive at Reading on your move in day you know you have 3 years to settle; when you arrive on exchange you know you have 5 months. You want to meet as many different people from different cultures as possible, to travel, to learn and study, to grow as a person, to learn how to overcome culture shock and missing your family and to embrace every second of the experience. Exchange is exhausting, and just as you begin to feel like exchange is home you leave. But the friends you make, the things you do and the amazing places you see will forever be your second home.

Going on exchange was the perfect way to travel without the problems of backpacking. You can experience the travelling but after a week you can go back to security of studying and routine. And then, the next weekend you may go off again somewhere else, but you always have your base where you have your friends and a structured week.

Being able to learn and study alongside travelling is like a gift. It provides a continuity and a purpose. It is not a holiday nor is it a gap year, it is the chance to learn the degree you love whilst living in a place you love, experiencing university in a much broader sense.

For anyone who is thinking about exchange my only advice is to not think too much about it -  just do it. It really is a life changing experience, something that will affect you for the rest of your life.

Charlotte Wilkinson, BA Philosophy

La Trobe University (Australia)

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